My mom would say that she’s not a very good cook. This is not true. She is not an aficionado of all things food – in fact, she is quite repulsed by most things I love (blue cheese, mustard, salsa, tomatoes, onions, pickles, ranch dressing, other various sauces) but the things she does cook, she cooks well. She grew up on a farm and they ate basic farm raised food. Her mom would make a huge dinner for her and her 7 sisters every night for them to dig in to when they came back from working in the fields. She said dinner was always huge and filled with things like fried chicken, biscuits, gravy, corn on the cob, green beans, etc. One or two things she hated and I don’t know if the notorious boiled lettuce had anything to do with turning my mom off of being an adventurous eater, but it certainly couldn’t have helped.
When I was growing up, she kept me in the kitchen – not slaving away, but watching her cook. She taught me how to do things, how to “keep my workspace clean” (to this day I can’t handle going to bed with a dirty kitchen.) I learned the very basics – how to not burn something, how to do 5 things at once, how to use common sense. You’d be surprised how many cooks don’t have common sense. Sure, they know what tarragon infused vinegarettes are but they don’t know how to tell if something is done simply by looking at it.
Anyway, one of the things I loved watching Mom make was her buttermilk biscuits. She made them without measuring. She made them almost mechanically. However, my favorite part of the process was when she got her round pizza pan out, filled it with a 1/4 cup or so of vegetable oil and as she cut the biscuits (with her “biscuit cutter” – a green chili can she cut the top and bottom out of – perfect biscuit size, she says) she would slap them in the oil, then turn them over and slap them down again and then push them to the far side of the pan. She did this with each biscuit until she filled the entire pan – no bit of pan could be seen – it was all lovely, glistening biscuit dough.
I love these biscuits. We had them with Mom’s sausage gravy (maybe a future post) or just with butter and apricot preserves (my favorite). Oh man. There is nothing on this planet like a hot biscuit with cold butter and apricot preserves. Gosh, just the thought…
Mom’s Crispy Buttermilk Biscuits
2 cups flour
1 Tbs baking powder
1/2 Tbs salt
1/2 cup shortening
Enough buttermilk to mix it (probably 1/2 to 3/4 cup)
Preheat oven to 425.
Mix dry ingredients. Cut the shortening into the flour mixture with a pastry blender until it resembles coarse corn meal. Stir in the buttermilk until all is moistened. Knead on a floured surface – not too much – just until it is relatively smooth and workable. Roll out – not too thin – about 1/2″ or so. Pour vegetable oil on a baking sheet with sides. Cut the biscuits, dip them in the oil on both sides, and place them close together on baking sheet. Bake for about 15 minutes or until golden brown.
Makes: 15-20 biscuits depending on how big you make them. Serve with cold butter and anything else your heart desires