Biscuits With A Little Something-Something

Magnificent biscuits with a novel ingredient.
Magnificent biscuits with a novel ingredient.

These crispy-all-over, supremely decadent tasting biscuits are unlike others.

Because they have a novel ingredient that you might just guess from my cheeky photo.

Yes, duck — as in fat.

There’s no butter or shortening in these babies. Just a generous amount of lavish duck fat along with buttermilk.

This fabulous biscuit recipe is from “Still We Rise” (Clarkson Potter, 2023), of which I received a review copy.

It’s by Erika Council, creator of the Southern Souffle blog and chef-owner of Bomb Biscuit Co. in Atlanta’s Old Fourth Ward historic district where Martin Luther King Jr. was born.

As she writes, this book embodies the “gospel of biscuits,” the heritage and heart these rounds of little more than flour, fat, and dairy have carried over generations, especially among Black home-cooks who proudly perfected them for their families.

The book contains more than 70 recipes for biscuits and the like, some of them wonderfully surprising such as the “Duke’s Mayo Biscuits” and “7-Up Biscuits.” Equally irresistible are “Rosemary Orange Cream Biscuits” and “S’mores Biscuits,” as well as the hearty “The Glori-Fried Chicken Biscuit Sandwich” and “Biscuit-Crusted Breakfast Quiche.”

While making cassoulet one night, Council was inspired to make “Duck Fat Biscuits.” You can get your hands on duck fat at your local butcher shop or a gourmet grocery, where it’s usually in the freezer case.

With that in hand, it’s just a matter of using your fingers to work the cold duck fat into flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. Then, in goes cold buttermilk to bring everything together.

Take care not to twist the biscuit cutter through the dough.
Take care not to twist the biscuit cutter through the dough.

The dough gets folded like a letter three times. The recipe says to press the dough out into a rectangle each time. You can do this either with your hands or a rolling pin.

This folding technique helps the biscuits rise more, as does taking care to press the biscuit cutter straight down rather than twisting it in and out of the dough. To gently transfer the biscuits onto the baking sheet, a spatula works better than your fingers, which may accidentally smush them in places.

The biscuits go into a very hot oven — 450 degrees — where they quickly start to puff up.

A beauty.
A beauty.

They emerge golden with a slight sweetness despite having no sugar in it, thanks to the natural taste of the duck fat. And yes, you can taste a subtle duck flavor, too.

These biscuits are at their best warm to let the full complexity of their flavor shine through. They are super rich tasting. So much so that you might not even need to slather butter on them. However, if you did go that route — or spread on some black truffle goat cheese — you will have chosen a most glorious path to follow.

To butter or not. That is the question.
To butter or not. That is the question.

Duck Fat Biscuits

(Makes 10 to 12 biscuits)

2 1/2 cups (300 grams) all-purpose flour, plus extra for folding and cutting

1 tablespoon baking powder

1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon baking soda

1/2 cup duck fat, cold

1 cup full-fat buttermilk, cold

Adjust the oven rack to the middle position and preheat the oven to 450 degrees.

Place the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl and whisk to combine.

Using your fingers, work the duck fat into the flour mixture until only pea-sized pieces of duck fat remain.

Add the buttermilk and stir gently with a spatula until the dough forms into a ball and no dry bits of flour are visible. The dough will be shaggy and sticky.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and lightly dust with flour. With floured hands, pat the dough into a 1/2-inch-thick 11-by-6-inch rectangle. Fold the ends of the rectangle toward the center, one end on top of the other, to create a trifold. Dust the top lightly with flour, press out (or use a rolling pin) to the same size rectangle again, and repeat the folding. Repeat this process a third time. After the third folding, pat the dough into a 1/2-inch thickness and cut out the biscuits using a floured 2 1/2-inch biscuit butter. Be careful to press straight down and do not twist the cutter.

Use a lightly floured spatula to place the biscuit rounds 1 inch apart on a parchment-lined baking sheet. Gather the scraps, reshape them, and pat the dough out to a 1/2-inch thickness. Cut out as above. Discard any remaining scraps.

Bake for 10 to 12 minutes, rotating the pan once halfway through, until the tops are golden brown. Serve immediately.

Adapted from “Still We Rise” by Erika Council

More Biscuits to Enjoy: Angel Biscuits

And: Aphrodisiac Biscuits

And: Apple-Stuffed Biscuit Buns

And: Biscuit Berry Nests

And: Cathead Biscuits

And: Scallion Pancake Biscuits

And: Tupelo Honey Ginormous Biscuits

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  • Were this a mere ordinary food blog, I can envision some clueless reader chiming in to ask “I don’t have any duck fat. What can I substitute for that?” To which a discerning writer like you would quite properly reply “Don’t even bother; just make something else” Then, further down in the comments we would come across the helpful suggestion to try melted Peeps instead, right? Followed of course by a vigilante vegan saying they had subbed applesauce and aquafaba, but the biscuits failed to rise and the resulting slabs of cardboard tasted terrible so they will never make this recipe again! Thankfully, this is not that blog.

    They sound, and look amazing, Carolyn. And with black truffle goat cheese, you say? Oh my!

  • Hi Carroll: As usual, you write the BEST comments! Too funny. As for the black truffle goat cheese, I just happened to have some in the fridge when I made the duck fat biscuits, and I must say that they were delicious together. πŸ˜‰

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