I couldn’t tackle buttermilk biscuits without first consulting the Queen of Southern Breakfast: MawMaw
Of course she was tickled to hear from her favorite granddaughter-in-law and very excited that I was attempting to make a Southern breakfast of my own for her favorite grandson. After some catching up, she got down to business and told me that I couldn’t make biscuits without self-rising flour (and her blackberry jam, but we are all out). She said that one could do with regular flour, baking soda, and baking powder – but she never uses it, nor does she know how much of each to use. SO, just when I thought I was raring and ready to go, I had to rush to the grocery store to pick up some self-rising flour.
I couldn’t believe I almost messed up my challenge before I had even started!
The biscuits were definitely harder to make than I thought possible. First the buttermilk was runny – apparently it needed to be shaken? Then the dough was way too gooey, so I had to strategically add more flour without adding too much – all with some seriously sticky doughy hands. Finally, the dough wouldn’t come off of my fingers when I needed to roll the darn thing out.
While the biscuits were cooking, I did a little victory tap dance in front of the oven window…celebrating the formation of a buttermilky wet mess into smooth round biscuits. I was also praying that the sweet smell coming from inside that hot box meant my biscuits were going to be tasty. MawMaw told me there is no set amount of time it takes to cook biscuits – you just know they are done when they are golden brown and that’s that. “BUT,” she said, “Don’t overcook them or else they will be tough.”
Well how do I know if they are overcooking while they are in there??? Sheesh, Southern cooking is all about just knowing and not adhering to a set of instructions.
I removed the biscuits when I thought they were done – I can’t tell you how long they cooked because I wasn’t looking at the clock. All I know is that when the little piece I sampled straight from the oven melted in my mouth I knew it was time.
Hmmm… what to say about the grits? My husband does NOT like them – however, I discovered that I sort of liked them smothered in cheese late one night at Waffle House in Atlanta a few years ago. I couldn’t find true stone ground grits at the store, but I thought that Quaker Old Fashioned Grits would get the job done. I followed the instructions on the back of the container – slowly add grits to boiling water, cover and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes. Um… do you know how hard it is to cook something for that long when you can’t see what it’s doing in that stainless steel pot?? I might have peeked a few times just to make sure the grits weren’t sticking…
It’s good I peeked because they were sticking, so I decided to add a tablespoon of sweet cream butter. I figured that since people in the south love butter so much, what could be the harm in adding some to my grits? Sprinkle in a bit of sea salt and a pinch of Cajun seasoning… mmmmmmm .
In the end, my grits turned out lovely. I know I wasn’t supposed to add cheese, but I just couldn’t resist. A slice of white American melted on top of grits is just oh so good. And guess who ate more than a couple of bites?? My husband. =)
Eggs and Bacon
I definitely wasn’t nervous about cooking the eggs and bacon… I cook those two things all the time for my hubs. HOWEVER, how does one go about cooking eggs and bacon in the same skillet? Bacon produces a ton of grease and, well, eggs cooked in bacon grease sound like a heart attack waiting to happen.
I opted to cook my eggs last… after the bacon and gravy were done. I didn’t want my eggs to get cold, nor did I think that a sunny side up egg would taste that great after 15 minutes of sitting underneath tinfoil. How do these southern people cook with only one cast iron skillet? I think I am going to have to get another.
I can’t take all the credit for the bacon because it is one of my husband’s specialties. Plus I get scared of the popping and sizzling and frying grease that accompanies cooking bacon. We discovered something new today – there is nothing better than thick cut bacon cooked in a cast iron skillet. I could not stop myself from stealing a few nibbles of the crispy bacon we fried up.
MawMaw’s Skillet Gravy
After the bacon was resting its greasy little face on a paper towel lined plate, I added a couple of tablespoons of flour to the grease and started mixing away with a fork. MawMaw also gave me her secret tips for making incredible breakfast gravy – and the biggest tip she gave me was that she doesn’t use a measuring spoon or a cup – once again I had to just know when it was done. I poured in some milk, mixed a little more, added a splash more milk, and switched utensils from a fork to a rubber spatula. After about 3 minutes or so, my husband was testing the gravy with a bit of biscuit and grinning widely at me. Apparently my skillet gravy was quite tasty.
After pouring the gravy in a bowl, I cracked a couple of eggs right into the skillet. I cooked those little guys until they were over medium and after a bit of frustration (trying to get them to release themselves from their new skillet home), I slid them onto a plate. Before you could say, “Breakfast is done,” my man’s plate was covered in food and he was anxiously awaiting my permission to dig in. I had to snap a few photos before I let him go wild with his fork.
As I dug into my cheesy grits and sweet n’ steamy buttermilk biscuit, I heard lots of “mmm-ing” and “ahh-ing” from my neighbor. I think my husband likes my breakfast. Next thing I knew he was sticking his fork into the grits and exclaiming, “These are actually pretty good!”
In record time his plate was clear and he was reaching for another biscuit. I smiled to myself knowing that I pulled it off. I had made my first big Southern breakfast with only a few bumps and bruises. The dough had been a bit too gooey, the eggs got stuck to the skillet, and I got some bacon grease splashed on my old school Red Sox shirt. Plus my camera has flour in the little crack around the shutter. Overall, I believe my first Yankee Challenge was a huge success. My husband is a very honest guy – and he said my breakfast was a “delicious experiment” and he can’t wait for me to make it all again. Next time I will have some of MawMaw’s homemade blackberry jam on hand though…