My Citizens, there are only two Chefs who – in my mind – exemplify traditional Southern cooking: Edna Lewis and Scott Peacock, who were the closest of friends while Chef Lewis was still alive (she passed in early 2006).
During her declining years, Chef Peacock willingly took care of her until her death and has since taken up her mantle as the true heir of Southern cuisine knowledge! Their signature recipes both included biscuits – and it is Scott’s version I’ll be sharing today!
As noted on southernliving.com:
The term biscuit was originally coined by the British and it referred to their thin cookie and cracker-like biscuit – much different from what it evolved into once it got into the hands of southern cooks.
In the pre-Civil War South, the biscuit was regarded as a delicacy and usually reserved for Sunday lunch or dinner. Now the cathead biscuit was born out of necessity, as they had to get things done quickly. Do it simply, make your biscuit dough, and then pull and drop huge clumps of the buttery dough onto your baking sheet.
Then you have the sweet potato biscuit. Sweet potatoes were abundant in the south. they were often used as a flour substitute because flour was really hard to come by. Then you had the beaten biscuit. Biscuit that was sort of built to last all day in your lunch pail. You could put it in your overall pocket. It is not nice and layered and fluffy like the others, because it had to be durable.
Soft winter wheat flour was really hard to come by for southern biscuit makers. They had to rely on the port cities on Mobile, and New Orleans, to bring in this product.
But when White Lily started making white winter wheat self-rising flour in Knoxville, Tennessee in 1983, it was very much a game changer for biscuit makers. Here in the south you know, we kind of kept our biscuits really close to home.
It wasn’t until the good Colonel Sanders of Kentucky Fried Chicken fame took our biscuits out of the south in 1952 when he opened his first franchise – in Utah of all places – thus bringing the Southern biscuit nationwide. Now, the key to any great biscuit is to not overwork your dough. Just fold it over very gently.
One mistake a lot of biscuit makers make is they twist the cutter. You don’t want to do that, as you have worked very hard to create these layers. With improvements made on cooking ingredients and techniques, biscuits are one of the easiest things to whip up. They were and always will be a Southern delicacy. And you can find them on any table for any meal of the day.
As biscuits are one of Scott’s signature dishes, I would like to share his recipe with you, as documented by one of his students.
Scott is a friend of mine and I admire his talent and his desire for a normal life, far from the ‘celebrity chef’ lifestyle that so many strive for in this industry. Far better to focus on making the best dishes, firmly rooted in tradition and teaching the next generation of Southern cooks how to make dishes that are quite literally in their DNA.
I am on the waiting list for Chef Scott’s Alabama cooking school to learn his secrets – this was the latest email I received on this important topic:
Thank you for your interest in the Black Belt Biscuit Experience with Scott Peacock.
We appreciate your patience; the wonderful level of interest has overwhelmed us and we are slower in our responses than we would like.
The April issue of Garden & Gun magazine features a profile of Scott that highlights his Biscuit Experience here in Marion, Alabama. The April issue of Travel + Leisure Magazine also features the Biscuit Experience. In response to this wonderful publicity, demand for booking is at a high.
Space is limited and we suggest that you secure space and priority scheduling by purchasing your biscuit experience as soon as possible. We can then work with you to find a date that is to your liking. I have attached a copy of the Garden & Gun article for your enjoyment.
Please let us know if you have any questions, we are happy to work with you in any way we can.
Scott hopes to host you in Marion, Alabama soon!
Black Belt Provisions
Follow the directions in this recipe *exactly* and know that you will be making the finest biscuits you’ll ever taste! 🙂 If you can, sign up for Scott’s cooking school and learn all the techniques you need to be the ultimate Southern Chef!
Battle on – The GeneralissimoPrint
- 5 cups sifted, unbleached all-purpose flour
- 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon homemade baking powder or store-bought baking powder (see recipe below)
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt (Diamond Crystal)
- 10 tablespoons Plugra-brand butter, cold from the refrigerator
- 2 cups buttermilk, cold from the refrigerator
- Homemade Baking Powder:
- ¼ cup cream of tartar (organic preferred)
- 2 tablespoons baking soda
- For the baking powder:
- Sift together ingredients and store in a glass jar. Sift again before using ~ the ingredients tend to clump when stored. Store in a cool, dry place like a spice cabinet for up to six weeks.
- Heat the oven to 500 degrees Fahrenheit.
- In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.
- Dice the very cold butter into ½ inch pieces and toss into the flour. Get your hands in there and use your fingers to press the butter into the flour. Work quickly; the goal is to have pieces of butter of varying sizes throughout the flour.
- Clean your hands by rubbing them together and shaking off the floury bits.
- Make a well in the center of the flour and pour in the cold buttermilk. With the spoon, quickly stir the ingredients together. It’s okay to stop before you incorporate all the stray floury bits; the dough should be very sticky.
- Lightly flour your countertop and immediately turn the sticky dough on to the counter. With a quick and gentle touch, gather the dough and shape it into a ball. Persevere and resist the temptation to add more flour.
- Dough will be craggy and sticky, but if you taste it, you’ll know that you’re creating a masterpiece.
- Use your hands to gently flatten the dough to about an inch thickness.
- Flour your rolling pin, but not over the biscuits. You have put a lot of work into these biscuits so far, do not ruin them with excess flour.
- Take the rolling pin and center it over the dough. Roll once from center to top and lift. Center again, roll from the middle to the bottom and lift. Repeat one or two more times, just enough to even out the tops of the biscuits.
- Dip the dinner fork in flour and pierce the dough every inch or so. Grab your biscuit cutter and dip it in flour, stamping out biscuits and arranging on parchment-lined baking sheet. Cut out biscuits, but do not twist. The twist deflates the biscuits. A little flip is all you need to lift the biscuits from the dough.
- When you’ve stamped out all the biscuits that you can, place the extra dough bits wherever they will fit on the pan.
- Place tray in 500 degree Fahrenheit oven and bake for eight to 10 minutes until biscuits are crusty and deep golden brown. If your oven heats unevenly, rotate the pan at the 7 to 8 minute mark.
- Remove pan from oven and let cool for a few minutes on the counter. Serve biscuits warm with a pat of butter and a drizzle of honey or spoonful of jam.
- Calories: 895.5 kcal
- Sugar: 6.31 g
- Sodium: 2132.3 mg
- Fat: 31.4 g
- Saturated Fat: 19.15 g
- Trans Fat: 1.16 g
- Carbohydrates: 130.66 g
- Fiber: 4.24 g
- Protein: 20.5 g
- Cholesterol: 81.23 mg
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