Friday, January 18, 2013

January Jeliciousness: Buttermilk Biscuits with Bacon, Cheddar & Chives

I am delighted to receive a recipe from the beautiful Maggie of FlourChildBlog. Please check her blog for more deliciousness. Also check out her instagram feed which is full of her heavenly Weimeraners.

Maggie says: First, I could not be more thrilled to be taking part in your January Jeliciousness series. After being absent from my food blog for nearly a year, your kind invitation was just the kick in the pants I needed to get behind the camera (and computer) again. To say that your asking me to contribute to your series is a compliment would be a big understatement. Thank you.

Second, about this recipe. I struggled with whether to share a recipe that is truly my own, versus one I've adapted from a celebrity chef (and which is readily found on Google), but David LeFevre's buttermilk biscuits with bacon, cheddar and chives are TO DIE. They're the primary reason I frequent his wonderful restaurant, Manhattan Beach Post, in my hometown so often. When my girlfriends and I meet there for brunch or dinner, you won't hear any of us utter a single word about dieting or eating healthy as we dive into the biscuits with gusto. Although Chef LeFevre shared his recipe with Los Angeles Magazine in April 2011, I think (hope) that my notes help ensure a flawless result. (Although, how bad could bacon cheddar chive biscuits ever be, really?)

Buttermilk Biscuits with Bacon, Cheddar and Chives
Lightly adapted from David LeFevre
Yield: 12

These biscuits, served at David LeFevre's M.B. Post restaurant in my hometown of Manhattan Beach, are perfectly decadent and highly addictive. While I appreciate that most readers are focusing on virtuous eating now that the holidays are over, I'm a proponent of gently easing back into healthier habits. So rather than chuck the butter, bacon and cheese outright, let's enjoy these biscuits at the occasional supper or brunch in the weeks and months ahead. Just don't eat the whole batch (easier said than done), and maybe serve them with lighter fare.

Bonus: This recipe makes the absolute best "plain" biscuits (or scones, as they're known in my South African-American household). I dare say they're better than the legendary Scott Peacock's. They're perfectly light and flaky, with a crisp exterior and pillowy interior. So feel free to leave out the bacon, cheddar and chives, or experiment with any number of variations with other savory or sweet mix-ins.

A few tips: if you don't have a kitchen scale, get one. Weighing ingredients makes all the difference in baking -- especially biscuits! And grating the frozen butter sounds like a frivolous step but is incredibly easy and tremendously worth it. Make sure all of your ingredients are cold. I measure and mix the dry ingredients into a Ziplock bag and chuck it in the freezer. (This can be done well in advance and serves as a homemade biscuit mix.)


12 ounces all-purpose flour (the Los Angeles Magazine version of this recipe states that this equates to 1 1/2 cups, but when I measure 12 ounces of my beloved King Arthur All-Purpose Flour using the spoon and sweep method, I get 2 3/4 cups)
4 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/4 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt (I recommend Diamond brand)
1 ounce (generous 2 Tablespoons) sugar
1 stick butter, frozen, grated (I use a cheese grater to grate the butter onto a plate and put it in the freezer while I prep the rest of the ingredients)
6 ounces sharp cheddar cheese, cold, diced into 1/4 inch pieces (about 1 1/4 cups when measured after dicing
6 ounces (about 3 1/2 slices) Applewood smoked bacon, cooked until browned and crispy, drained and diced into 1/4 inch pieces
1 ounce fresh chives, chopped (a scant 1 cup after chopping)
1 cup buttermilk, cold, shaken thoroughly before measuring
1 Tablespoon clarified butter (I melt 3 Tablespoons butter, let it cool, and skim the solids off the top)
Fleur de Sel for sprinkling


1. Heat oven to 375 degrees F and position a rack in the middle of the oven.

2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt and sugar. (As noted above, these dry ingredients should be very cold, so after whisking them together I put them in the freezer for at least 30 minutes and up to 1 month sealed in an airtight bag.)

3. Add the grated frozen butter and mix gently with your fingers or a spoon. The mixture will resemble coarse cornmeal.

4. Add the cheddar cheese, bacon, and chives and gently mix again to combine.

5. Pour the cold buttermilk into the mixture and gently fold until it begins to form a dough. Turn out onto a surface lightly dusted with flour and, using a very light touch, work the dough until it comes together. Gently roll out to 1 1/4 inch thickness. (I roll the dough into a large rectangle, as it's easier to cut into squares, but you may want to roll it into a large round if you prefer to cut out round biscuits.)

6. Cut the dough into 2 1/2 to 3 inch squares, brush with clarified butter and season with Fleur de Sel. Transfer to a baking sheet lined with a silicone baking mat and/or parchment or waxed paper.

7. Bake for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown (use a toothpick or cake tester to determine if the center is cooked through). (Note: I find that it takes my oven 20 minutes to properly bake these biscuits, and I rotate the baking sheet after the first 10 minutes.)

8. Remove biscuits from oven and place on a cooling rack (still on the baking sheet) for 5 minutes. The cheese chunks will have oozed out the sides of the biscuits so they need a few minutes to set. (Confession: I pull the crisped cheese bits off the baking sheet to nibble.)

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