I never knew the pleasure of a good biscuit for the majority of my life. Kinda sad, isn’t it?
I guess not eating good biscuits is just part of growing up in New Jersey. Don’t feel bad though, we had plenty of other wonderful carby things to make up for it – bread, pizza, bagels, pretzels, pasta, etc.
Luckily, I made my way to the deep south when I was 19 and discovered the magic of truly amazing biscuits. I honestly can’t imagine what my life would be like had I never come to know these fluffy, buttery discs of awesomeness.I’ve had biscuits on the brain ever since we came back from Miami a few weeks ago. Yes, Miami, Florida – land of stone crabs and Cuban sammies – doesn’t exactly have a reputation for being the biscuit mecca of the South. But I’ll be damned, we had what I’d argue are some of the best biscuits south of the Mason Dixon. First at the Yardbird Southern Table and then at the Federal Food Drink & Provisions. I haven’t stopped dreaming about them since.
Being that St. Patrick’s Day is right around the corner, and March is the one month out of the year I admit to being half Irish, I decided to put a Paddy spin on a traditional biscuit. Ireland’s cuisine has always gotten a pretty bad rap, but it’s taken a major turn for the better in recent years due in part to the incredible quality of ingredients they’re producing. Thanks to all those gorgeous green pastures, Ireland is pumping out some of the best butter and cheese on the planet.
Oh, and beer. Obvi. They’ve had that down pat for, like, ever.
A good biscuit should be light and flaky, not dense and crumbly, and this can be a bit tricky to achieve. Biscuits follow similar rules to pie crust – Keep the ingredients super cold, and don’t over mix.
I recently read about freezing butter and grating it to make pastry dough as opposed to working the fat in with a pastry cutter or by hand. I’m not exactly sure who to credit this concept to, but it’s a rather ingenious one. I tried it with these biscuits, and it worked like a charm. A lucky charm that is… because they came out magically delicious. See what I did there?!
I realized halfway into my biscuit making endeavor that I don’t actually own a biscuit cutter, or even a cookie cutter for that matter (I know, weird right? I do, for the record, own a doughnut cutter). So, I did what any self respecting Irish girl would have done in this situation: I looked to the booze cabinet for a solution. This champagne flute had a sharp edge, was the right size, and got the job done just fine. High fives!
Light and flaky with a little added flavor from the beer, sharp cheddar cheese and scallions, these biscuits satisfy in all the right ways. I mean, since when has adding beer and cheese to a recipe not been a good idea?
Southern biscuits are great, but I’d argue Irish biscuits are better. Maybe it’s true, or maybe it’s just because they’re in my blood. 50% to be exact. Just don’t tell my Italian side.
- 2 1/4 cups flour
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 4 tablespoons Irish butter, frozen, plus 2 tablespoons, melted
- 6 oz extra sharp Irish cheddar, grated
- 2 scallions, thinly sliced
- 1 tablespoon dijon mustard
- 7 oz Irish stout (such as Guiness) or other dark beer, cold
- Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar and salt in a mixing bowl and whisk together. Using a box grater, grate the frozen butter into the flour mixture and then quickly toss to coat all the butter pieces with flour. Place the whole bowl in the freezer while you grate the cheese, slice the scallions and whisk the mustard into the beer. Remove the bowl from the freezer and mix in the cheese and scallions. Make a well in the center and pour the mustard beer mixture in the center. Use a rubber spatula to gently mix until it JUST comes together.
- Dump the mixture out onto the counter and fold it over on to itself 3-4 times and no more. Pat the dough out until it's about 1-11/2 inches thick and use a biscuit cutter or glass to cut out rounds. Reform the scraps, working them as little as possible, and continue cutting until it's all used up. Alternately, you could use a knife to cut out 12 squares. Place the biscuits on a sheet pan and then place the whole sheet pan in the freezer while the oven preheats to 425 degrees.
- When the oven is preheated, remove the biscuits from the freezer and put them immediately into the the oven. Bake for about 15-20 minutes until they are golden brown. Remove from the oven and immediately brush with melted butter. Serve warm.
- This recipe will work fine with non-Irish ingredients, but you risk disappointing St. Patrick himself.