I have a confession to make. Until recently, I had never baked biscuits from scratch. Oh, I’ve eaten plenty, whether at the nearest Bojangles’ after duck hunts (yes, I think that chain wins the fast-food biscuit war) or while visiting Blackberry Farm (those biscuits made the cover of G&G’s October/November 2012 issue). And though my Southern cooking repertoire does include such standards as smoked pork butt, venison chili, and fried sea trout over grits, I was inspired by this issue to finally rectify the glaring hole in my kitchen skills.
I started by calling Karl Worley, who with his wife, Sarah, runs Nashville’s Biscuit Love, a veritable shrine to the Southern staple. Worley, whose restaurants churn out biscuits seven days a week to feed the ever-growing lines out the door, was delighted to offer a recipe and talk shop. Most people, he says, don’t think about how few ingredients there are in biscuits. “Flour is eighty-five percent of the taste. Whenever possible I tell folks to buy a local flour.” In my case, I reached out to Glenn Roberts of Anson Mills in nearby Columbia, South Carolina. Roberts is the godfather of heirloom grains, and he promptly supplied a bag of his Colonial Style Fine Cloth-Bolted Pastry Flour.
Worley also lobbied for the purest buttermilk I could find (“No fillers like tapioca! Just milk and culture”) and real honest-to-goodness lard, though I admit I cheated this time by subbing in Crisco.
Riding a wave of enthusiasm from Worley, I awoke before the rest of my family and dove into the recipe before dawn. To my relief I found it surprisingly simple. “Remember, these are everyday biscuits,” Worley had reminded me, “not the show-pony biscuits.” Before long I had a batch nestled in a cast-iron pan baking in the oven. While they may not have turned out cover worthy, they were darn good. And as my family launched into the warm stack, I couldn’t help but think of what Worley had told me when I asked him what I was most likely to screw up on my first attempt.
“You’re not going to do anything wrong,” he’d said. “You’re making biscuits, and that brings people around the table. That’s what we’re missing these days.”
If you need your own inspiration, we’ve got you covered this issue, whether you would like to up your biscuit tools game or want to hear from another biscuit maestro, the famed chef Scott Peacock. Worley was happy to share his recipe with you, too. See it below. And I hope you enjoy your time around the table this spring.
Senior Vice President & Editor in Chief