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This time, Erin Wilburn of Erin’s Food Files is taking a closer look at a timeless southern staple – the biscuit. From savory to sweet, appetizer to dessert, she’ll share the best ways to enjoy the rich & fluffy delicacy.
Let’s talk biscuits. First and foremost, this isn’t going to be a “how to bake better biscuits” post. While I’m not a biscuit novice, I still have lots to learn! What I want to do is open a discussion about what to do with your biscuit. I’ll be focusing on the classic southern biscuit, usually a buttermilk biscuit. However, I won’t turn my nose up at cream biscuits! But either way, we’re talking about a basic biscuit without cheese or herb add ins.
Classic: Biscuits & Jam
I’ve only recently begun making my own jam, starting with a simple strawberry. If you’re going to make homemade biscuits, they deserve the respect of homemade preserves and jam. My friend and fellow blogger Lindsay of Love & Olive Oil has a ton of unique jam and preserves combinations in the canning section of her site, if you’re interested in recipes. If you’re not yet ready to make your own, a great place to seek out homemade preserves and jam made by someone else is a local farmer’s market. The Nashville Farmer’s Market has a vendor selling Spring Valley Farms jams, which come from Holland, KY. My favorite Spring Valley Farms jam is a variety called “FROG” which is figs, raspberries, oranges & ginger.
Classic: Biscuits & Honey/Sorghum
Some people add a touch of butter, some don’t. I grew up in south central Kentucky, where I wasn’t raised on biscuits & honey, but biscuits & sorghum syrup. Now that I’m living in Nashville, and have a lot of friends who aren’t originally from the area, I’ve had to explain what sorghum is. I often find myself saying “Well, it’s kind of like molasses, but it doesn’t come from a tree… And it’s kind of like honey, but it doesn’t come from bees.”Sorghum syrup is similar to honey & molasses. I would say it’s milder than molasses, but with a different flavor profile than honey (it begins as a grain crop). Here in Nashville I’ve gotten sorghum at the Nashville Farmer’s Market, as well as at The Turnip Truck in East Nashville. Farm Flavor’s website has pretty helpful for more information. To eat biscuits and sorghum, I was taught by my grandfather to start with warm biscuits and room temperature butter. Put the butter on a plate and then drizzle the sorghum on top. Use your fork and give it a few good “smooshes” to get it mixed together. I suggest starting easy on the sorghum, because you can always add & smoosh more. Once you get it the consistency you like, just dip your biscuit in and enjoy! My grandfather used to eat this as dessert after dinner.
Savory: Biscuit Sandwiches
Can you tell I’m a sweets person? Don’t worry, I don’t JUST eat my biscuits like dessert. I’ve been known to make pretty epic biscuit breakfast sandwiches. For some reason, in my house we don’t tend to eat biscuits on the side, we use the biscuits as a vessel. I’m a lucky gal, because my dad has taken up the hobby of curing his own meats so he keeps us pretty stocked on homemade bacon, ground breakfast sausage, and more.
My husband really enjoys a big, mean breakfast biscuit sandwich. We’ll throw a few biscuits in the oven, fry an egg, and cook whichever meat we’ve selected. Add on a slice of cheese, and for him, it’s a pretty complete meal. We’re able to throw this together so quickly because whenever I make biscuits, I make a double batch and cut out the rounds. Then I freeze them. Once frozen I transfer them to a plastic freezer bag, or reusable container and keep them in the freezer. This way, all we have to do is warm up the oven and bake our biscuits. I add on an extra five minutes or so to the baking time.
I’m also a big fan of pan-fried country ham & biscuits. I just love the salty ham combined with the rich fluffy biscuit. Country ham has been dry cured, and aged anywhere from three months to four years. I feel like everyone has heard of Benton’s bacon, right? It’s served on various dishes all over Tennessee, as well as restaurants as far away as New York. Well Benton’s makes more than just bacon, they make other cured pork products like country ham, which you can order online. Here in Nashville you can purchase the Clifty Farms brand of country ham at local grocery chain Kroger. And I’m told that The Hamery in Murfreesboro and Rice’s in Mt. Juliet are great places to get stellar country ham in the Nashville area.
I feel like everyone knows about sausage gravy, right? Biscuits with sausage gravy are a definite southern staple. It’s a combination of ground breakfast sausage, the fat rendered from cooking, combined with flour, milk, and spices. You’ll find this dish at pretty much any good southern breakfast spot. Want to try it at home? Food & Wine has a spiced up recipe I’ve been eyeing.
Southern Treat: Chocolate Gravy
For people who are unaware of this southern delicacy, it sounds somewhat crazy. But you should first know, there’s no sausage in chocolate gravy, or any meat! It’s really similar to a warm chocolate pudding, only on the runnier side. Music City Food and Wine Festival talent Trisha Yearwood even has a recipe for chocolate gravy. Again, this is something else on the sweet side, and certainly not something I’d serve for breakfast everyday. But it’s great as an occasional treat!
While biscuits are certainly a staple of a good southern breakfast, they aren’t reserved for breakfast alone. I’ve been to many wedding & baby showers, and other daytime or evening parties & gatherings with biscuits served as an appetizer. I love a petite biscuit served with cured cold city ham (or what non-southerners just call ham, that has been “wet-cured”, brined & seasoned). It’s also good if you add a dash of whole grain mustard. Another great appetizer is a piece of boneless fried chicken with a dash of honey, on a biscuit.
Biscuits can be dressed up with fancy jams and fruit butters or dressed down with some messy chocolate gravy. Breakfast, lunch, dinner, dessert, late night snack — there’s always a time for biscuits! Stay tuned because later this week I’ll be sharing a few of my favorite biscuit offerings from the local Nashville food scene. As you can tell, I really love biscuits, so you won’t want to miss this roundup!
Erin is a full-time food lover, part-time food blogger. When she’s not working as a television video editor, she chasing after her exuberant toddler. When she finds the time, she enjoys cooking with local, seasonal produce, or baking treats to share. Married to a craft beer nerd, she enjoys seeking out unique local eats and great drinks with her husband. Erin can’t live without good coffee, and will never go paleo.