Tuesday, August 16, 2011

An Affair with Biscuits that Never Ended...

Ever since I was a kid, biscuits have been one of my favorite quick breads.  Yeast rolls didn't even come close, in my opinion.  Who doesn't remember loving those flaky canned biscuits with all the layers?  My brother and sister and I complained pretty obnoxiously, I'm sure, if my mom forgot to get the flaky kind; they were so "un-fun" to eat if we couldn't peel apart all the buttery layers one by one first.

And I don't think I'm alone in my love of biscuits - after posting a recipe for Baking Powder Biscuits a few months ago, it quickly became one of my more popular recipes.  I'm always thinking of new variations for my recipe, and it's never failed me (except once this past summer at Jamie's parents' house- I made biscuits to bake on top of peaches for a shortcake-type dessert, and the biscuits were too dense and didn't rise properly - I still don't know what caused that failure, since I've made these dozens of times with perfect results.  I will probably never know!  Just one of those cooking mysteries.)

My mind wandered the other day to something my mom used to make around the holidays - cheesy sausage balls.  They were, literally, exactly what they sound like - ground sausage mixed with cheese and other things, I'm sure, shaped into balls and browned in a skillet.  They were wonderful in their rich, cheesy, meaty goodness.

And when we had some leftover sausage from our Caprese Pasta with Sausage dinner, I thought, why not add sausage to biscuits?  I decided these could be a lighter version of those cheesy sausage balls since they would be predominately biscuit instead of sausage.

Happily, my intuition proved me right - they were amazingly good.  Light, fluffy biscuits studded with white cheddar cheese that slightly melted and savory bits of sausage, they were hearty enough to eat for breakfast without any eggs to go with them, although we had some sliced tomato on the side for a little freshness.  They also kept very well for several days - usually biscuits need to be eaten that same day or they get dry and chewy the next day, but these kept their tender, flaky crumb and moist texture for at least 3 days later.

I used my go-to biscuit recipe, with a few variations.  I rarely roll out and cut my biscuits since I prefer the rustic look of drop biscuits, but for this recipe, I baked them in a muffin tin, which worked very well, too.  Also, cutting the cheese into cubes instead of grating it will make it more a star in the biscuit, whereas grated cheese tends to melt into the batter rather than standing out too much.  And this time, I added an egg and used butter instead of vegetable oil - something that made it even better - lemon basil butter.  You should check that recipe out.  :)

Cheesy Sausage Biscuits
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons cold butter
  • 1 egg, lightly beaten
  • 2/3 - 3/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup cubed white cheddar cheese
  • 2/3 cup cooked, crumbled sausage
Whisk together the flour, baking powder and salt.  Using a pastry cutter, cut the butter into the flour until it resembles coarse crumbs.  Stir in the beaten egg with a fork until dough is slightly moistened.  Gradually add the milk, stirring just until the dough comes together into a sticky dough.  Fold in the cheese and sausage.  Cover the bowl with a damp cloth and let the dough rest on the counter for about 20 minutes.

Preheat the oven to 450.  Spray a muffin tin (makes 8 large biscuits) with nonstick spray and spoon the dough into the muffin tin, loosely mounding it in each cup.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until golden brown on top.  Remove from the pan and eat warm.