For the ingredients, you must use self-rising flour, not all-purpose flour. Self-rising flour has baking powder and salt already in it in just the right proportions. Get a brand like Martha White or White Lily. Both are good brands and make good biscuits.
For the shortening, you can use vegetable shortening (Crisco), lard, or unsalted butter (margarine won't work - use real, unsalted butter).
First Things First!
Place oven rack at highest position. Preheat oven to 450 degrees F. Spread newspaper on your work area. Take a sheet of wax paper about 18 inches long, and place on newspaper. This is where you will make your biscuits. If you have a large cutting board, you can use that instead. You'll need a cookie sheet or cast-iron skillet to bake the biscuits.
How to Make Biscuits
Place two level measuring cups of self-rising flour in a bowl. Don't pack flour in the measuring cup. Spoon flour into measuring cup to slightly overflowing. Use back of table knife to level the flour. Too much flour will make hard, crumbly biscuits. Add 1/4 teaspoon baking powder (not baking soda). Stir flour and baking powder together.
Add shortening. If you're using Crisco or lard, pack the shortening in a 1/4 cup measuring cup, or use four level tablespoons of shortening. If using butter, cut the 1/2 stick of butter into 4-5 pieces and place into bowl. Using a fork, mash the shortening or butter into the flour. The idea is to mix the flour until you see small pieces of shortening and flour the size of a pea. This might take a minute to do.
Now add the buttermilk. Using your fork, gently mix the buttermilk with the flour. The idea is to allow the flour to absorb the buttermilk. This might take another minute at most. Remember not to be rough with your biscuit dough. It will be ready when it looks shaggy and is almost a clump.
Sprinkle about 2 tablespoons flour on wax paper. Turn your mixed dough out on the wax paper. Take flour and put on your hands. It's like washing your hands with flour instead of water. This keeps you hands from sticking to the dough. If you hands start to stick, use more flour on your hands. Take your hands and gently press the dough-ball together. Turn the dough over and bring the edges together and gently press. Do this about 4-5 times. It should take about 45 seconds.
Flour your hands again. Gently pat the dough ball to spread it out. It's a combination of patting and gently pressing that is the key for light biscuits. Try to make a circle of dough about 9 inches around and about 1/2-3/4 inches high (about the width of your thumb). This will take another minute at most.
Flour the lip of your biscuit cutter. No biscuit cutter? Use a juice or water glass about 2 inches in diameter. Place over the dough, press down and lift back up. It may be necessary to gently shake the cutter to drop out the biscuit. Place biscuit on the cookie sheet or in a cast-iron skillet. Repeat until the dough is used up. Take the remaining pieces, roll together, pat out and place on cookie sheet.
Place cookie sheet on the top rack in your preheated oven at 450 degrees F. Be sure the oven is on bake, not broil, or preheat. Biscuits bake fast in a hot preheated oven and will take 9-12 minutes to bake. After 8 minutes, check your biscuits. Keep checking until the biscuit bottoms and tops get a nice brown color.
WARNING! Once biscuits begin to brown, they're about ready. Don't walk away, keep your eye on them, and when brown on top take them out of the oven. Don't wait until the entire top is brown. About half-brown and half-golden and take the biscuits out of the oven.
Eat them while they're hot. Don't wrap hot biscuits in towels to keep them hot. Wrapping biscuits hot from the oven traps moisture and makes the biscuit soggy. Keep them on the cookie sheet and they'll be fine. When they're cold, don't put them in refrigerator. Wrap in a paper towel, and place in a food safe container or bread box. Cold biscuits can be warmed in the oven at 300 degrees F for 5 minutes or split open and toasted.
Here's the best part. Don't want to make 25 biscuits and cook them all at one time? No problem! After cutting out your biscuits place the extra uncooked biscuits on a plate, cookie sheet, or on wax paper and place in the freezer. After a couple of hours remove from freezer and place frozen biscuits in a plastic bag or plastic food container. Now when you want a biscuit just place on cookie sheet or in a cast iron skillet, turn oven to 450 degrees (not preheat) and in 15-18 minutes, you'll have hot biscuits hard to tell from freshly made ones. I do this all the time. I double my recipe and make about 40 biscuits, freeze them, and then I'm ready for homemade biscuits day or night! Delightful!
Serve with Milk Gravy, Sawmill Gravy, White Gravy. Whatever you call it, it's easy to make. Keep stirring, and take it off the heat before it gets too thick. If it gets too thick, add a little milk (about 1-2 tablespoons at a time) and stir it in; it will thin out.
This is enough for two hungry people or one person making a meal of it (like me).
Heat drippings in a skillet on medium low. Blend in flour, salt, and pepper and stir until smooth and bubbly, about 2 minutes. You must cook it long enough to remove the raw flour taste.
Stir in milk and heat on medium-low to medium heat, stirring constantly. It will begin to thicken in 1-3 minutes depending on heat. Don't cook on high heat. Add another dash or two of black pepper and serve immediately over biscuits. These biscuits may even make your mother-in-law like you!
"May your best meals be the ones you make and share with family and friends."
Source: Copyright: 2011 Stephen Greenfield. Contact me at http://elcheapocooks.com/ and let me know how they turn out for you!
My mom taught me to cook decades ago before I went to college. This recipe is still one of my most requested meals for friends and family.
By El Cheapo from Chattanooga, TN
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