Homemade Podcast Episode 43: All About Biscuits With Chadwick Boyd, Scott Peacock, and Karl Worley
Flaky or fluffy? Rolled or dropped? Ham or jam? Biscuits are a treasured, time-honored food but personal and specific to individual tastes or family histories. Today, Homemade host Martie Duncan welcomes three famed "biscuit bosses" - Karl Worley, Scott Peacock, and Chadwick Boyd - who share their tips, experiences, and secrets for their own acclaimed biscuit recipes. Listen to this episode on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, PlayerFM, and everywhere podcasts are available beginning June 9.
About Chadwick Boyd
Lifestyle expert and entrepreneur Chadwick Boyd's career has spanned from food media to branding and marketing, with offices in New York City and Atlanta. In addition to hosting "Reel Food," the first food series to air at movie theaters in the U.S., Boyd judges Hallmark's "Christmas Cookie Matchup" and has appeared on Hallmark's "Home & Family" and the CNN.com program "Chadwick Has it Made." His writing has been featured in Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Better Homes & Gardens, Food52, The Kitchn, MyRecipes, Rachael Ray Every Day, Real Simple, Serious Eats, and Southern Living. Follow Chadwick at @chadwickboyd and ChadwickBoydLifestyle.com.
About Karl Worley
After graduating from Johnson & Wales University, Chef Karl Worley cooked in restaurants in Colorado and North Carolina. In 2012, he and his wife, Sarah, founded Nashville's now-famous Biscuit Love, named one of Bon Appétit's 50 Best New Restaurants. He has since opened two additional locations. Follow Biscuit Love @biscuitlovebrunch.
About Scott Peacock
A James Beard Award-winning chef, Scott Peacock worked in kitchens in Florida and Georgia before creating the Biscuit Experience in the kitchen of a Greek revival mansion in Alabama in 2010. In addition to co-authoring the 2003 cookbook The Gift of Southern Cooking with Edna Lewis, the two founded the Society for the Revival and Preservation of Southern Food. His biscuits have graced the pages of Better Homes & Gardens, The New York Times, Gourmet, and Food & Wine, which named the recipe one of its 40 best-ever recipes in a special 40th anniversary edition. Peacock's biscuits have also been featured on TODAY and The Martha Stewart Show. Learn more about the Biscuit Experience and follow chef Peacock @rscottpeacock.
MARTIE DUNCAN Welcome to Homemade. I'm Martie Duncan. On this show we like to talk about treasured family recipes and cooking in the kitchen with mom and them. On this episode, we're talking biscuits. Everybody has their fvorite kind of biscuit, and that's usually what you grew up with. You may be a team flaky layers -- you know, the kind you peel apart and savor one layer at a time -- or you may be team fluffy middle, where you stuff the biscuit with ham, jam, or split them in half and pour some sausage gravy over the top.
And it's not just women who make the best biscuits. Although recipes may have started in Grandma's kitchen, today I am joined by three Southern gentlemen who have found their way to the top of the biscuit game. And I'm going to get some of their top tips and secret techniques for making world-class biscuits, which even Granny would approve.
Later on in the episode, Chadwick Boyd will stop by to talk about his wildly popular Biscuit Time tour with my friend Chef Carla Hall. James Beard Foundation award-winner Scott Peacock chats with me about his renowned Biscuit Experience workshops found down in Marion, Alabama. But first up is the man who is synonymous with biscuits in Music City. If you live in or if you've ever visited Nashville, you know about Biscuit Love. Karl Worley, along with his wife Sarah, founded Biscuit Love about 10 years ago. It all started with a food truck and it has blossomed to an outright biscuit empire.
Everybody makes their biscuits differently, and you'll even hear some of my guests say there is no one true biscuit. You'll certainly leave with all you need to make a big batch of hot biscuits no matter what recipe or technique you use.
To kick things off, here's Karl Worley talking about the origins of his family's biscuit recipe and how Biscuit Love has become one of Nashville's hottest food destinations.
KARL WORLEY So, I remember it from my grandmother, some of my earliest memories was her just watching me as my mom worked. She would have biscuits every day and she'd do drop biscuits for us in a little tiny skillet. We had this small table and at 10:00 every morning, she would cut a potato up into French fries and fry it on a fry daddy on that table with me just sitting there watching it. I'm thinking about four-year-old me watching hot oil boil.
MARTIE Oh, my word.
KARL So she would do that. And then on special occasions, so Christmas, Easter, anytime the family got together, she would do yeast-raised biscuits. So angel biscuits.
MARTIE Right.So your grandmother was the origin. She's the one that had the recipe. You learned from watching and decided, what the heck, let's start a food truck. Let's build an empire with that biscuit recipe.
MARTIE How did you get from watching your grandmother make biscuits to a biscuit empire?
KAR Oh, my gosh. A lot of luck or God or whatever you believe in. My wife and I both went to culinary school as adults, and I had this bright idea - this was before Hattie B's - I had this bright idea to do hot chicken and bring hot chicken to the masses. And my wife told me I was an idiot. That would never work. And so I often remind her how much of a visionary I am. But she said I would do biscuits and then you could do hot chicken on biscuits. You could do a lot of stuff. I think she was the true visionary.
We wanted to write a business plan and so we started looking for people. One of those people was,working for, a guy named Jason McConnell in Franklin, Tennessee, who owns a bunch of restaurants down there. And I said, "Hey, you think Jason would meet with me? I need some help writing this business plan. Just real world experience." He did. He promised me thirty minutes. I left two hours later with keys to his food truck to borrow, space in one of his restaurants to use as a commissary and a mentor. And we started 30 bucks in our pocket, a borrowed food truck and and a dream. And off we went.
MARTIE And now you rule the biscuit world.
KARL I don't know about that.
MARTIE All right. Well, Biscuit Love is such an appropriate name for this because when you bite into one of those, it tastes like and feels like a grandma made that biscuit. Are you making them all by hand?
KARL We're making them all by hand and so and I, uh...
MARTIE I don't even know how that's possible with all those people. Wow.
KARL In a pre-Covid world, the Gulch location would do about 2000 on a Saturday and 2000 on a Sunday. So it takes a team. It takes an army of biscuit makers. So.
MARTIE And this is what you call your family reserve biscuits. This is the recipe that you grew up with. That's what you're making every day. You have a lot of things on the menu beside the biscuits. But what I want to know is about this drop biscuits or these patted biscuits. Walk us through the technique really quick. Once you get the ingredients assembled in the bowl, how does it work?
KARL Sure. So dry ingredients go in, mix those around. You put your wet ingredients in. It's actually buttermilk and heavy cream. The dough is so wet it almost looks like cottage cheese. And you'll take just a spoon and scoop a scoop up, drop it in some all-purpose flour. I call it patty cake. Patty cake it around, and then drop it in - at home we drop it in a cast iron skillet, in the restaurant, they're doing large volume when those are on the menu. And so we do them in a few different ways when they come on the menu. So.
MARTIE It still has a crispy bottom.
MARTIE The top is still brown, but the middle is definitely fluffier, not layered like a lot of biscuits are today. These are a fluffy middle. I say biscuits fall in two categories. Are you flaky layers or are you fluffy middle? And yours I think are definitely fluffy middle.
KARL Yes. A lot of times in the restaurant we'll do different kinds of cakes and different things in it. So we had it on the menu as a hummingbird cake, or we'd mix all the hummingbird cake ingredients in the middle of it and serve it with cream cheese icing. And so it's able to do fun stuff with it. One of my goals is to get people to make biscuits, and so it's pretty foolproof to make.
MARTIE So for all the people who can't get to Nashville, then you want to encourage them to make biscuits at home. I love your quote that I pulled from somewhere. It says, "You're making biscuits and that brings people around the table. That's what we're missing these days." I love that quote.
KARL I think so, even more so this past year. It's one of the things that has brought us a lot of joy in a world where you can't get together is pulling people around the table. And one of the things I love about food is when you have food in your mouth, you shut up and you listen. The more listening we can do, the better.
MARTIE I don't doubt that one bit. Then how do we get it from the cottage cheese to something that bakes? How do you do that part? That's what you call the patty cake part?
KARL Yeah. So we'll have a second bowl with a little bit of just all purpose flour in it. When you scoop it up and then throw it in that all-purpose flour, it will hold together. And then you kind of pattycake to shake the excess flour off. And then at home we'll pack them tight in a cast iron skillet that's been buttered.
MARTIE So side to side in the cast iron skillet, they touch.
KARL Yes. Oh, yeah.
MARTIE And that helps them rise up too, I believe.
KARL They're going to move, whether it's out or up is up to you.
MARTIE What is the big secret? There's got to be a secret that you'll share with us about these biscuits.
KARL Don't work them too much. Some people worry about getting all the flour incorporated and everything and, and versus just barely working them. Working them as less as possible. And I think if you're cooking for people, you typically have love in your heart. And I think that that matters. So.
MARTIE It definitely matters. There's no doubt about it. So now that we've got our biscuits in the oven, they're baking away, what is your favorite go-to, your personal favorite go-to to stick in the middle of that thing? Are you butter, jelly, jam, ham, sausage? What's your favorite thing to put inside one of those Biscuit Love biscuits?
KARL I love good jam, and it's so easy to make. Put a little sugar, a little whatever fruit and cook it down. But my go to, and my childhood, is soft butter whipped about 50-50 with sorghum.
When we go on tour and we were able to go do different events, sometimes I'll take that and just surprise people and not tell them what it is.
KARL And the butter kind of cuts that sulphury part out of the sorghum when you mix it with butter.
MARTIE So is that something your grandmother did?
KARL Yeah, she always had sorghum and just soft butter. And so you take a little bit of soft butter and sop it up with the biscuit and kind of move it around, mixing it together.
MARTIE And what's the number one go-to at Biscuit Love? What do customers love to put in the middle of their biscuit?
KARL The number one thing is our East Nasty by far, which is fried chicken, Cheddar cheese, and then sausage gravy.
MARTIE Oh, wow. So...
KARL Just like Mom used to make.
MARTIE Oh, no. My mom did not make that. No.
KARL Mine didn't either.
MARTIE No, no, no. My mom did not. Now we got sausage in the middle of the biscuit or ham or bacon.
MARTIE But no. No chicken. That sounds delicious. So it's called the East Nasty.
KARL The East Nasty. Yeah.
MARTIE OK, and so tell us what that is again. It's one of the Biscuit Love biscuits.
KARL Yup. Regular fried chicken, Cheddar cheese, and then sausage gravy.
MARTIE Sausage gravy, which is one of the favorite things on the planet. If y'all have never had sausage gravy, you're not living. All right. So can you walk us through that really quick, too? What does that taste like? And y'all, I mean, I am assuming y'all go through a lot of sausage gravy at Biscuit Love.
KARL We, we use a local farmer and she sees, uh, all of our pork comes from her and we use about three to four pigs a week just for the sausage that goes into the gravy. And so we start with her pork, which is, is key for us, a good fatty pork. And some White Lily and really good heavy, heavy milk.
We use a local company, and so when you open the top, there's still that, that layer of fat on top, which you want. It kind of plays off of the, the heaviness of the gravy and the fried chicken. But it's not too - I don't think it's too heavy. But it is soul satisfying. It's everything you want breakfast to be.
MARTIE It sounds like the perfect thing to have on a Saturday morning in Nashville after you've been out having some fun on Broadway. You know, it sounds like the perfect stop to cure everything that ails you from the night before. For sure. Well, I'm so looking forward for this pandemic to be over so we can get back to events and back to doing things out on the road and having fun and gathering together. Tell me about how it's been for y'all at the restaurant with the pandemic and where you are now.
KARL It's been good. I'm thankful that we have really smart women running the company and we're going to come out of this. And it's allowed us to, to challenge ourselves and do different things. One of my favorite things is, we fell in love with Lisa Marie White many years ago in New Orleans. And...
MARTIE Love her. I love her.
KARL Last January, she came on board at Biscuit Love. I stepped back as the chef and she stepped in as the chef of Biscuit Love. And, in my opinion, she makes some of the best biscuits on the planet.
MARTIE Without a doubt she does.
KARL She tweaked our biscuits. They're better than ever. She's tweaked the menu and it's a hundred times better than I could do. And it's beautiful to see this child that Sarah and I created-somebody else taking it and, and teaching it and making it, pushing it further. And so I think coming out of it, I'm optimistic that people will be excited to gather. And we're going to be a stronger company and have stronger people. We've been able to employ people through this. There was a few weeks where we had to lay everybody off, but we've been blessed to be able to have them and still have all of the things that we think are important. We have our staff-care program still, our therapists on staff, and we've been able to do that through the pandemic, which I see as a great celebration.
MARTIE It seems to me like love is a big part of your name for a big reason.
KARL It is.
MARTIE It seems to me that that's a lot to do with your corporate philosophy and the way that you do business, even down to working with local people, who you can make a giant impact on some of these farmers' and providers' lives, too. So it seems to me like you are mixing up a lot of things just right in Nashville.
Let's show some love to the Biscuit Love folks when you're up in Nashville, when we get out on the road, we start moving around and traveling again, let's show these folks some love. Karl, best to you and to Sarah and to the whole Biscuit Love team. Thank you for sharing your family legacy, your tradition of biscuits with us, and walking us through some of your secrets for wonderful biscuits.
KARL Thank you. Thank you for letting me be a part. I appreciate it.
MARTIE Be sure to visit BiscuitLove.com for information on their three Nashville-area locations, social media, and to find out more about Karl and Sarah's story.
Up next up is Scott Peacock, who needs no introduction when it comes to biscuits. His award-winning restaurants have always featured his legendary biscuits, and Food & Wine named his biscuit recipe one of their top 40 published recipes of all time. Scott also had a longtime friendship with chef and author Ms. Edna Lewis. They wrote a beautiful cookbook together, The Gift of Southern Cooking.
Chef Peacock has been hosting intimate workshops on the fine art of Southern biscuit making in a Greek revival mansion in Marion, Alabama. If you're lucky enough to make the trek, you'll learn hands on from the biscuit master himself.
You have a Biscuit Experience, where you're actually teaching the secrets to your famous biscuits in, of all places, Perry County, Alabama, which is close to Marion, Alabama.
SCOTT Oh, it is. Marion, Alabama, where I live and where the biscuit experience is hosted is the county seat of Perry County, Alabama. And we're about an hour and a half from Montgomery, and a little over an hour from Birmingham and Tuscaloosa, and half an hour from Selma. So when people come here, when I come here-I mean, I live here full time now. There's very much a sense of making a journey., it was settled before statehood. So it's a very historic, I think, very significant and important town with a lot of beautiful architecture and fascinating people and traditions, including food traditions. And so I'm very fortunate to host these in what has become the Biscuit Kitchen, in a Greek revival mansion here. not my house in, in Marion, Alabama.
MARTIE Restored beautifully. I've seen the pictures.
SCOTT It is. The historic kitchen is still intact and it's part of it that opens into the more modern kitchen that has been restored and renovated. And it's a very beautiful, very welcoming space. And there are no clocks or timers in the Biscuit Kitchen. So it's, to me, one the most exciting things about the Biscuit Experience is that it's this very leisurely, very organic. It's not a canned experience. There's no real format to it. I mean, the format is that at some point I will make biscuits and we'll eat biscuits.
MARTIE Yeah, but it's going to meander until you get to that point, depending on who's there.
SCOTT Exactly. It's a very personal, very organic experience. It is very much a response to who shows up. They're very small. I always imagined it is something to three or four people would do. And sometimes we have one on ones or a couple will come, especially during the pandemic. We keep groups very, very small, three or four, but we try to cap them. I mean, we make exceptions because people come for different reasons. So we've had as many as, I think, 15 people in the Biscuit Kitchen before. But that was not for like a half day experience.
MARTIE So it really must say something that people would journey so far from all over the planet to come to a very rural one hour off the highway,, interstate, rather, , to come and learn to make biscuits. You are considered to be the foremost biscuit expert in America. And you are also a biscuit purist, aren't you?
SCOTT I am definitely a purist. I don't know about the former, but that's very sweet. Uh, yes, I am a purist and having said that, I would also say that like, I don't believe there is any such thing as the one true biscuit. You know, a biscuit Is such a personal thing, that's part of what is so fascinating about it to me. I'm just as fascinated in why people travel, because that is interesting. And we have had people come from, um, 30 different states.
SCOTT It is very much a journey.
MARTIE So where did the biscuits originate?
SCOTT I grew up in a town smaller than Marion. Marion's a town of thirty six hundred people, I believe. I grew up down in the Wiregrass, down in the southeast corner of the state. Six miles from the Florida line is the little town of Hartford from where I grew up. My mother and grandmother were terrific cooks. they were not great biscuit makers. But my father, who grew up outside the neighboring town, his parents were sharecroppers and his mother, Grandma Peacock, was, he thought, an unequal biscuit maker. So when my parents married and they have my sister myself, my mother would, of course, it was expected that she would make biscuits. And she did so for several years, rather unsuccessfully. And my father was pretty vocal about it. And I remember a great fight when I was in the first grade, and that was the end of her biscuit attempts. And then on we had TV biscuits. We had canned biscuits, from that time forward. And I thought that was sensational. I couldn't imagine anything more miraculous on so many levels. Uh, I bought it hook, line and sinker. I had no idea that I was enamored with a polyester biscuit.
SCOTT It's interesting to me how successful that indoctrination was. So for years and years, I felt that that was what a biscuit was. And when we would go to Grandma Peacock's house out in the country her biscuits did not peel apart in the thousand layers. And they were shorter and crusty. her wood stove was still in the back porch, but these were cooked in an electric oven. But to me, they, they retain some aspect of that knowledge at least and I didn't like them as much. And I was pretty uncomfortable with them, in part because she was poor. That was-I think that's a recurring theme that runs through the South. I certainly hear that a fair amount. So when I was, I don't know, 8 or 10-years-old, my parents were letting me cook and I saw a recipe for biscuits, that was supposed to be the world's best biscuit in some food magazine. And I attempted them and I had high expectations and it was a soul-crushing failure.
And I do remember my father managed to eat one or two but they were not good at all. And I was really disappointed and I just thought, well, I don't have the touch because everyone talks about the touch. And there's something to that. There really is-there are some principles, I think, that once you understand and learn that you can - there are some very specific things to do or not to do. It's more about what not to do.
I very much believe in the handmade biscuit. Um, I know there are a lot of tricks and, and very popular - you know, frozen grated butter is very popular, big, you know, super tall, laminated biscuits. And I don't begrudge that at all. It's just not my biscuit because when I make biscuit, I feel connected to Grandma Peacock and Ms. Lewis and cooks before them who were really doing this on a daily basis, sometimes more than once a day, as a means of feeding hungry mouths. Uh, but I also think of it as a means of expression. And I've come to believe strongly that there is nothing else, certainly in the southern canon that I know of that expresses the literal touch of the cook more than a handmade biscuit. There just isn't. And you can't make someone else's biscuit. No one else can make your biscuit. I can't make - you know, I strive. I have ideas of what I'm trying to do every single time I do it. But it's a practice and it's not always the same. The variables are infinite, including who I am on that day. You know?
MARTIE I think about that a lot because I have most of my mother's things and I am in my mother's kitchen now, that both my parents have passed away. And that's where I do most of my cooking. And I can tell you for sure that I can use the same pot, the same recipe, the same oven, the same everything. And somehow it doesn't quite taste the same. It is a touch. It's a feel. For me, hers would taste the same every single time. And mine.
MARTIE Like you said, it sort of depends on my day how it turns out.
SCOTT I wonder if she thought it tasted the same every time. You know, that would be interesting to know.
MARTIE I don't know. But I do know this much. even if I don't get it just right, I'm close enough, you know? Close enough.
SCOTT The act is important. I mean, I do make my own baking powder. And I can-we can talk more about the ingredients if you want to. So, I mean evolved the...
MARTIE I definitely want to.
SCOTT I did evolve from when I first successfully made a biscuit, which was when I was, uh, in my early twenties and in Tallahassee, and it was used in self-rising flour and a recipe frankly was right out the, the Martha White bag. And I've evolved-because I was always interested in how things were made. So when I discovered you can make your own baking powder, that was thrilling to me. And I've never looked back. but a friend of mine recently sent me a picture of a biscuit. She's working on making biscuits, um, and lives in Charleston. And she sent me a photograph and I was like, those look amazing. And she wrote all caps, SELF-RISING FLOUR. And it was sort of in a-even though it was all caps, I feel like she was sort of apologetic because she knows a lot about.Homemade baking powder, etc. And I wrote back, without even thinking, in a minute, the act is much more important than the ingredients, you know?
MARTIE It's true when you put a bowl or a platter of hot biscuits or skillet of hot biscuits on the table. Well, let's face it. You put the butter, the jam, the sausage, the bacon, whatever, your jelly, whatever you put in there, your biscuit can maybe not have to be perfect. But there's the act that you got up that morning and you whipped up those biscuits, put them in the oven and are bringing them to the table with joy. Usually, you're so proud and so happy that it is, an act of love
SCOTT It's a miracle every time. people have asked me before me. I mean, a lot of people say, why biscuit, and there's a lot of reasons. for one thing, because I did grow up unable to make them, so once I discovered I was able, uh, that was very exciting to me. In my earlier cooking career, I was not interested in the American South or the food of my childhood. I mean, that came and came very quickly. It was a conversion moment. But I was thinking earlier today about when I went to Beringer Vineyards, uh, for the School for American Chefs, which is just as a two-week program with a wonderful, wonderful teacher, Madeleine Kamman. And, she asked if I made biscuits and fried chicken. And I was dismissive at that time. Later, I devoted a lot of time and energy to making biscuits and fried chicken and take a lot of pride in being able to make them, and to sometimes make them well. So in that way, like for me, biscuit-making biscuit is even an act of reconciliation. Um, I feel that way in the way.
MARTIE With your past?
SCOTT Absolutely. Absolutely. With Grandma Peacock, you know, because I had some - I was a little embarrassed by her as a kid because she was poor and not educated. And now as I'm older and understand things more, she's become this deeply heroic figure to me.
MARTIE And probably so much more educated than you ever realized.
SCOTT Oh, my God. Absolutely. An extraordinary, extraordinary human being. Strong, strong woman. She's always very present for me when I'm making biscuits. Yes, it is an act of reconciliation for me. It's, it's a meditation of sorts. It is - I - it calls me to be present. I think that's one of the beautiful things for anyone in making biscuit, is that it, it really-it is like a jealous lover, you know? It wants all of your attention.
MARTIE Yes, it does.
SCOTT It's like a dog. It can smell fear. So you have to, you know, fake it till you make it. It calls you to be present. And at the same time, it connects you to your own personal history. It connects you to a greater history. because I'm so lucky to make biscuits so often, um, I often think that of the millions of people, the millions of hands that have made biscuits before me and how lucky I am to step into that ritual in that tradition and be a part of that, um, You know, biscuits can be very consoling, deeply consoling. And we all need that some times Especially right now. The Biscuit Kitchen was dark for about seven months, and I was very anxious about resuming the biscuit experiences. I was anxious about safety for one thing, of course. But I was also anxious about being able to communicate and convey through masks and standing further apart. I've been so relieved that I don't think it has diminish the experience at all. In some ways I think it's even more meaningful now because we appreciate the ability to be together all that much more.
MARTIE You're listening to Homemade. When we return, Scott shares the details to his approach to biscuits. And later, Chadwick Boyd closes out today's episode with how his famous Biscuit Time workshops, hosted with his friend Carla Hall, began as well as his own step-by-step guide to biscuit making. We'll be right back, after the break.
MARTIE I'm Martie Duncan and I'm talking with chef Scott Peacock.
MARTIE Well, I want to get into the mechanics if we could.
MARTIE And I realize it is a very hands on thing.
MARTIE So everybody close your eyes and let's sort of-let's, let's kind of envision that we're at this Biscuit Experience. So flour - super important. I know you make your own baking powder, and that's very important to the structure of your biscuit. So.
SCOTT And the flavor. And the flavor.
MARTIE I want to start there because I think that's what sets your biscuits apart from any other I've ever heard of.
SCOTT Thank you. I do feel that it's important. Like, when people come, my goal is never that people leave trying to replicate or that they would want to replicate what I've done. But I do try to share what I know and why I do what I do. And maybe that's of use and becomes integrated or not. Uh, except for the baking powder. That is the one thing that I do openly wish and say that I hope that people believe and take with them because homemade baking powder sounds very complicated, which is great because you can use that to impress your friends. It's two ingredients. It's two ingredients. It's cream of tartar and baking soda. Two parts cream of tartar and one part, baking soda. there are no aluminum salts or stabilizers or anticoagulants or anything in there. There's none of that metallic taste or chemical burn, that you can get with commercial baking powder.
And both of those ingredients, if they are properly stored, will keep for three years at least. So as long as you have those on hand, you can always make up a little batch of baking powder as needed. So you're not wasting and throwing it away and buying extra cans at the store, which happens a lot. And you keep it dry and cool and in the dark. Don't refrigerate it because you get condensation and that's not good for it. and you sift it before you use it. And, um, because it does lump up and so does commercial baking powder, which has things in it to keep it from lumping. I do use very special flour.
MARTIE I was gonna say, don't you use heirloom flour?
SCOTT And I use very, yes, very specific antique flour, um, or flour mill from antique varieties of wheat. white Lamos wheat that's milled into cake flour and red made that is milled into pastry flour. And I get those from Anson Mills and my friend Glenn Roberts, who is my mentor, uh, in all matters, antique grains, uh, mills those and ships them to me. And anyone can buy them. Anyone can order them.
MARTIE And it's Anson Mills.
SCOTT Anson Mills in Columbia, South Carolina. And they are tremendous. Uh, and I blend them. I blend those two-They do have different flavors and different-the cake flour's a little softer. But I am basically blending them to approximate commercial, organic, unbleached All-Purpose flour. That's what I'm going for.
MARTIE If that's what you can find locally, you would want an unbleached.
MARTIE Um, soft like a winter wheat...
SCOTT Yes. I mean I hesitate to mention brands but there is a national brand that produces an organic unbleached All-Purpose flour that I'm-that used to be my biscuit-had become my biscuit flour over time. And so when I learned about antique wheat and I, actually, grew antique wheats for a couple of years here in Marion,, I started working to approximate the strength of that flour, uh, which I like quite a bit. And it's more absorbent. It takes, uh, it'll, it'll drink up a lot of buttermilk. I make a very wet dough by design.and I like the strength of it and it gives me a crust because of the crust has become very important. That was not always important to me, um, but as I've gotten older.] I think it is essential. Like, if, if I don't have a crusty top and bottom that feels like failure to me. Because
SCOTT Yeah. And, and they're equally important. And then the interior is really important that it be moist but not gummy and it be fully cooked and not too much of it. But it's also dry, not that it absorbs butter. And it receives jelly and any other number of things. And also at the same time, I feel like the first duty of a biscuit is to stand alone, that it, it requires no butter no jelly, anything to be satisfying and meaningful.
MARTIE OK. So speaking of what we going to stuff inside this biscuit. What's your favorite thing, you mentioned fig preserves, I think you said?
SCOTT Oh, God, I mean, fig preserves are probably just my-or brandied figs that I make are probably just my favorite thing in the world, period.
MARTIE You have some fig trees there on the property?
SCOTT I do. I had a huge one when I moved here and I planted a few more since. The first thing is, is that we eat do the leavings by themselves. So that your taste and just plain biscuit dough. And that-and what because we usually eat a little bit of dough too and people taste wheat in that and get excited. So when I do get down to serving the biscuits, I like a little salted butter, uh, and something that is a bit on the tart side. Uh, either if I'm very lucky and happened to have my Mayhaw jelly which is incredibly special, I feel like that's very, very good. Or even a Muscadine or a plum. Like I love plum jelly. A clear jelly of some sort, or sugared raspberries which are tart and I love.
MARTIE I don't know what those are.
SCOTT Sugared raspberries. That's something I learned from Ms. Lewis. It was a way of preserving raspberries or other berries, ad it's equal parts, sugar and fruit. And you crush it together just with a fork. You don't puree it. You just have this rough crush and then you cover it with a cloth and let it sit on the counter for a day or two until it just begins to start to ferment a tiny, tiny bit. And then you pack it up and refrigerate it or can it. And it tastes more like raspberries than raspberries do. And it has a fresh, not too sweet flavor and it's great because you can make it with frozen raspberries in the winter or blackberries. So that's, that's my favorite way to start, I don't want to cover up the flavor of the wheat and of the biscuit itself. So usually have one just with butter and jelly. And then I will warm up some, you know, thin-sliced country ham. Which I like also with a little bit of tart jelly in there, too. I like that very much. And those I think are exceptional if you're making biscuits ahead of time to take to a party, I love soft butter and some sweet, you know, sharp sweetness and country ham and then putting them back together and letting them rest for two or three hours and serving at room temperature. I believe in that very much. I'm not opposed to reheating biscuits at all. And I think you can reheat biscuits with great satisfaction. But once they're filled, I feel like you, you take it the way that it is. You don't try to reheat that.
MARTIE What is your big secret, like your biggest tip or secret that you can share with our Homemade listeners?
SCOTT If there is a secret, the thing that I would say - it's not a secret, but that I don't think even I used to think about or realized as much as I do now. But, I think the language around, working the dough is a little-is often to me off. Like to use the word knead at all, I feel like it's the one word because we think of kneading as yeast dough and sort of like really digging in and pressing. And I feel that's where things can go south the quickest with biscuit dough is that, baking powder is not yeast. It is not alive. It does not keep producing more. So if when you turn the dough out, or even in stirring it, at a certain point, you can begin to expel the baking powder, the effervescence, the gas that's produced from adding that liquid. You expel it from the dough and once it's gone, it's never coming back, period.
So that's the main thing that I try to impress, because one of the biggest complaints you always hear about biscuits is that they were heavy, you know, hockey puck. That's the standard. And I think that comes from compressing the dough. So I tend to think of the dough as a sponge full of water, and I'm trying to gently work with it to avoid squirting the water out. And being just very, very aware that once it's gone, you flattened it, you compress it, you burp it, you deflate it, there's the lightness. The biscuit has really risen on the biscuit marble or the counter or wherever. You know? And then if dilates a bit more in the oven.
MARTIE I love that. Don't be burping those biscuits, y'all.
SCOTT Do not burp the biscuit. Yeah.
MARTIE That's the best tip ever. Listen, Scott, I have loved every second of this conversation. I could talk to you for a year, I think, and never stop wanting to ask you questions, I cannot wait to come to Marion to come and see the town and experience it and see what y'all are doing there. I think it's so important, what you're doing down there ] I want to encourage all of our listeners to go find out more about this wonderful biscuit experience in Marion, Alabama, with Chef Scott Peacock. And you can find more information on his website. Chef Scott Peacock dot com. Scott, thank you again. It has been a joy and, uh, y'all go pick up that book. If you want to, uh, really expand your Southern cooking, go pick up his book with Ms. Lewis. It'll be your go-to all the time.
SCOTT Thank you so much, Martie. I've loved every second and I can't wait to welcome you to Marion and the Biscuit Kitchen
MARTIE I am tickled to chat with my final guest today, who's an author, TV host, executive brand strategist and of course, a biscuit boss in his own way, like Karl and Scott. Along with our favorite girl, the Food Network's Carla Hall, he has created a touring experience called Biscuit Time, which he describes as "not about baking bread, but making bread." He regularly appears in Better Homes & Gardens and Southern Living magazines, and he's a champion for the home cook. So to close out today's special biscuit episode, please welcome the wonderful Chadwick Boyd to Homemade.
CHADWICK What's up, Martie?
MARTIE I watch you and follow you on your social media. And I have to say, there is nothing that stops me dead in my tracks more than seeing some of those big, beautiful biscuits you post almost always on the weekend. We see some kind of biscuits from you. And I have to tell you, during the pandemic that kept me going.
CHADWICK Well, it kept me going too, it kept my creative mind going. when the pandemic started about a year ago, I started to have dreams, especially on like Friday and Saturday night. And I would wake up at six in the morning with this new biscuit inspiration. And I just had to, like, get up out of bed, throw my cap on and get into the kitchen and just, make whatever came to mind. And I have to tell you...
MARTIE Time to make the biscuits.
CHADWICK But almost always those recipes were like eight plus recipes where they, like, worked out perfectly. And I, I, I've had so much fun doing that and sharing that with everybody.
MARTIE Well, that's pretty exciting. Whatever it is, I can't wait to hear about it. I'm going to love it You've been cooking your whole life and you were one of those lucky enough to cook at the side of your grandmother. I want you to tell us, I see you share her handwritten recipe sometimes. I'm so jealous because I did not know my grandparents. I have a few cherished recipes from my mother who I learned to cook with. But, uh, I want you to tell me about your grandmother and what started you down this path to food and cooking and loving people through what you make.
CHADWICK It's actually a nontraditional, um, family story. So I was blessed. When I was born, uh, my parents divorced when I was really young. And then gotten remarried really young. And so, uh, before I was four-years-old, I had every single set of grandparents and great grandparents alive except for two. So unlike most people and yourself, Martie, I grew up with my grandparents all around me, and it was fortunate enough that we were mostly farmers. So food was the number one thing that we were rich in. We were poor in money, but we had a lot of rich in food. And, uh, that's really where my connection to the table, to people, to creating special moments, even with the most simplest of foods, that's where that was born. But more importantly, Grandma Clara, that I talk about and I share her handwritten recipes, we were related by marriage.
CHADWICK But the moment that we met when I was three, my mother and stepfather said it was like kismet. And my grandpa, too.
CHADWICK And we just-I don't have a memory in my life where they are not a part of my life. And they were my greatest teachers. But my grandma was one of these people who would just go to the stove and she would sing and she would smile and brought so much joy to her to share with others. And as a little boy, I just marveled at what it was that made her spark and just be happy. And so I joined her at the stove because I was like, I want some of that for me.
CHADWICK And that's really where it all began. And she had a cake decorating business.
CHADWICK I didn't have coloring books, but I had, um, icing piping bags and I had a little practice board. And she's like, have at it. And so that's what I did to create my designs instead of crayons.
MARTIE Oh, my gosh, that must have been a wonderful, magical sort of upbringing in the kitchen right there under your grandmother's wing and watching everything. Just you're having a grandmother that was a cake decorator. Are you kidding me? I'd have never left that kitchen.
My mother was a great cook, but she didn't go in for decorating much and baked only a few cakes. She baked a lot of pies. And of course, my mother, like your grandmother, baked a lot of biscuits. There was a homemade bread at every meal, whether it was corn bread rolls or biscuits with every meal. so I want to jump into the buttermilk and I want to talk about biscuits. I want to start with the basics. Chadwick, all right. Number one, fluffy or flaky? Flaky layers or fluffy middle? Which one are you?
CHADWICK Of course, I'm going to say all.Because there's not a biscuit that I make that, I don't like. If I were to get up and make biscuits for myself, they would be layer biscuits. I like a little crispy, crusty on the outside and, and the different layers that I can kind of peel it apart. I'm not a cakey, kind of put gravy on top type of biscuit person, um, all the time. I like to see those really tall, big layers.
MARTIE OK. Is that what you grew up with or that something you've come to develop?
CHADWICK So I grew up with kind of a combination of both. So my other great grandmother was the real biscuit maker, Ms. Zella. And half of my lineage is from southwestern Virginia. And, uh, they were tenant farmers. So they came up to southeastern Pennsylvania, where I actually was born. There was a bunch of Southerners that kind of settled in that area because they were tenant farmers that came up the railroad line. And, Ms. Zella, she would always cook lunch for everybody in the town at 11:30. And so I grew up with her just putting flour on the board and taking sour milk and just doing that kind of cupping with her hands to bring the dough together. And so it was a very, very simplistic type of biscuits,which were more cakey than they were like, you know, really big, tall and fluffy. And so Grandma Clara was like the layered biscuit. And then Ms. Zella was the more cakey type.
MARTIE Now you have a million different varieties, which we're going to talk about here in a minute. But let's start with the beginning for the novice. So when you do your biscuit time class, I'm sure a lot of these people have never made a biscuit before. Are you of the school that feels like you only can use one kind of flour or do you use self rising and or do you use regular flour and add to it?
CHADWICK So, Carla, this is something that Carla and I agree on and this is what we talk about with our Biscuit Time class, that we are not of the school, that you have to have a particular flour to be successful in making your biscuits. But there are some fundamentals that you should know, no matter where we are in the country, we all have access to the same like core ingredients. So, um, just pick whatever flour, whatever brand you like, um, but make sure you aerate it, um, because you want that separation. if you don't do that, then that's where you kind of get like super heavy biscuits or you don't have enough and you're kind of disappointed in that. Uh, but aerating it when you're measuring it is the first step or two.
MARTIE So aerating means like whip it with a whisk.
CHADWICK Oh, yeah.
MARTIE And get some air in there? Or sift it? Which one?
CHADWICK Yeah, so I like a very simplistic way. you can take a fork or whisk, put it in-dump the flour out of the bag into the bowl. I like a two-cup flour biscuit. So put it in a bowl, aerate it with your fork or your whisk and then measure and then put it in your dry mix bowl.
MARTIE That's a smart way to do it because you, number one, you get the air in there and then it's not as compact when you go to measure. So you get a more precise measurement.
CHADWICK That's right.
MARTIE OK, so do you use self rising or do you add your own leavening?
CHADWICK Seventy-two percent of the time I add my own leavening, but I do keep self rising in, um, my cabinets just because it's easy. Typically, in a Biscuit Time class Carla will do a regular All-Purpose Flour and I will show how to use this uprising because we both believe that everybody should know the difference between the two and be able to make the choice.
MARTIE All right. So you do them both ways. And most three quarters of the time you do add your own leavening. So are you add baking powder and baking soda or just one?
CHADWICK So I sometimes split between, um, baking powder and cream of tartar.
CHADWICK And I almost always add baking soda. I like the two together.
MARTIE I do, too. I've never put cream of tartar and a biscuit though, so that's a neat little secret. Thank you for that one. So now I want to get to the butter.
MARTIE So are you frozen butter? Not frozen butter? Are you grating your butter? What's your butter prep?
CHADWICK So I almost always grate my butter. I do love the snapping of the fingers and, you know, doing that myself, as cooks feeling and touching our food and connecting with our food is really important. And biscuits are a great way to show love, to ourselves and to other people. So sometimes if I'm really in that mood, that's when I kind of, you know, snap it through my fingers. But almost always it's super cold butter. Grate it. Make sure that it comes through. That there's separation with all the different, uh, pieces with flour, and that's where you're going to get success with the layers.
MARTIE So what I've started doing is,, I grate my frozen butter. Then I put it back onto a piece of parchment paper. Then I put it back in the freezer. So it gets those little separations you're talking about. So when it goes into the flour, then it tends to separate better. OK, so are you whole buttermilk? Are you milk? Are you-what are you? What do you do with the liquid?
CHADWICK So if I'm doing buttermilk, it has to be full fat. Really good buttermilk. This whole low fat buttermilk that's in every grocery store is crap y'all.
CHADWICK I mean, it's - don't pick that up. I actually am sour cream.
CHADWICK Thin sour cream, because it mimics and is almost exactly like full fat buttermilk and anybody anywhere can have full fat sour cream.
MARTIE Even if you can't find buttermilk, you can find sour cream. So you just thin it out and use that just like how you. Oh, how smart.
CHADWICK Thin It out with some really cold water or with, uh, some milk.
MARTIE Y'all, we're getting all the secrets today. Two things I didn't know about the cream of tartar and now sour cream. And you get that great tang from sour cream too.
CHADWICK Absolutely. It's the same with the buttermilk. So it like hits you right here on the back of your tongue. And it's, you know, with that sweet cream butter melted on top. Oh.
CHADWICK Why aren't we eating biscuits while we're talking about this, by the way?
MARTIE I know. I need to go and run in there, make some really quick. So are you, don't handle it? You're somewhere in the middle? Or you're that, yeah, let's laminate it and, you know, get it exactly that flaky layers that we want, as many as we want. Where are you?
CHADWICK I'm a laminate the hell out of it kind of guy.
MARTIE Me, too, now. I didn't used to be, I was like, don't touch em. And now like hey yeah that's good.
CHADWICK there's something to me about the folding of it I mean, let's be honest. So biscuits really are about practice, doesn't matter, you know, where you live and, and all that. It really is about practice. And the more you do it, the more you know.
CHADWICK I made tens and tens of thousands of biscuits. And, that is what, you know, lets me do them really easily, but I really get a lot of joy out of doing the letter folding, you know?
MARTIE People that don't know what lamination is.
CHADWICK So basically, I'll tell you how I do it. I, um, roll or pat out the first iteration of the dough to about an inch thick and then I take the right side, fold it a third of the way to the center. And then I take the left side and fold that a third on top. And then I take my, um-I like my French rolling pin And then roll that out, um, and, and people push too hard on the rolling pin. You really just want to start from like just the bottom of your fingertips to the center of your hand and just easily just let it glide until it's about an inch thick again and then you fold it. I fold it forward to third and then on top a third and do it again. And for me I think three is great. Sometimes I got a little crazy and I do like six or seven. But I think the key after that, though, is you got to put it in the refrigerator and it needs to chill for at least 20 more minutes because we've been touching it. So heat is going to start to break all that stuff down and that's not what you want to do. So that's the technique or method of lamination.
MARTIE Yes. Because we still want that butter to be cold, because we want it to help make the steam, which pushes up those beautiful, flaky layers that we all love. do you butter before you go to the oven.
CHADWICK No, only salt. I use light salt on top of my biscuits.
MARTIE Now, y'all, we're talking about a basic biscuit because Chadwick has about one hundred million thousand different variations of his biscuits on his website, which is Chadwick Boyd Lifestyle.com. You can find all kinds. I saw veggie skillet biscuits, cornmeal biscuits with cheddar and thyme, which I'm trying carrot sage biscuits, pumpkin brown butter biscuits.
CHADWICK You know what the fan favorite is on our biscuit times tour?
MARTIE What? What is it?
CHADWICK The carrot sage biscuits. They're - like people look at me. So Carla is like, all right, I'm going to teach you how to do a buttermilk, a classic buttermilk biscuit. Right? And so I'm like, well, I can't do the same thing that Carla does. So I created these carrot sage biscuits that have roasted carrot in it with a tich of honey and some fresh sage. And people look at me like, what is this dude doing, right? But then when they come out of the oven and there's that biscuit smell that every biscuit gets, like right as it's done? And that's what, you know, to open the door. Right? And all a sudden people are like, what is that? Right?
CHADWICK And then they come out of the oven and they're like, oh, OK, I might be into eating that.
CHADWICK Yeah. And then when they bite into it, they're like, oh, I'm going to have to make these. And then they're like, well, Carla, your biscuits were good, but...
MARTIE But, OK, walk us through really quick. Just really quick. give us the overview of how we're going to make this carrot sage biscuits.
CHADWICK So, the, the trick to adding fruits or vegetables and additives like that to biscuits is you want to make sure that you toss them in flour and fully coat them. because moisture is not a biscuit's friend, so when you roll them in flour, then you just put them just quickly enough into the biscuit dough to bring it together. And then because biscuits need to come together quickly anyway, that way you ensure that they're not going to flatten and disappoint you, but they're going to do all the things that we want with a biscuit, getting a rise, and you get crispy on the outside.
MARTIE And so it's just like a rubbed sage that you use?
CHADWICK I throw fresh chopped sage into the dry mix and then put the butter And then the carrot as your sour cream or buttermilk. Bring it together, roll them, cut them out, pop em in the oven.
MARTIE Oh, that sounds fantastic. And I imagine like for a real rustic or holiday meal, that is the perfect bread to go with it. Like that sounds great for Thanksgiving even.
CHADWICK Yeah. So, you know, you started talking about biscuits. You..give us this day our daily bread. My thing is, give us this day our daily biscuits, because biscuits are the most practical quick breads that anybody can make any single day. It's less than thirty minutes and they're on the table and they are fresh and hot and they just make you feel so damn good.
MARTIE OK, so your favorite biscuit accessory, jam, jelly, honey, gravy, chocolate gravy. pick one biscuit accessory.
CHADWICK Alan Benton's fresh sausage patty.
MARTIE Oh, I love that.
CHADWICK His sausage, his sausage has such wonderful sage in it, that there's something with the butter that mixes with the sausage grease and the sage comes through and you've got-I like a little black pepper in my biscuits, too. And it's just like, it's just like the most beautiful, wonderful bite.
MARTIE All right. So we have talked about everything but temperature.what is your recommended temperature for a good basic biscuit?
CHADWICK So I learned a tip earlier or, um, in the fall last year that is become my thing. so I heat the oven to 500 and just before I put the biscuits and I drop it to 450, and the thing about biscuits that everybody needs to know, whether you've never made them before or you made them a long time, is once you put them in the oven, you've got to commit you.
MARTIE Oh yes.
CHADWICK You cannot open the door until the recipe says so or until you hear that smell. And I just know it. And it actually tickles the front part of my tongue where that butter start to just turn to brown butter and you just know the tops of the biscuits are that beautiful golden color and that's when you open the door. so what we do want is when you put the biscuits in the oven, you want to, like, activate that chemistry right away because we want to go. We want them to punch up real fast. And so by the extra heat, what I've found is that it just jumps them up a little bit faster.
MARTIE So start them a little bit higher. OK, now here's a question for you. What's your favorite thing to do with leftover breakfast biscuits?
CHADWICK Um, Martie?
MARTIE There is no such thing, is there?
CHADWICK I don't ever have leftover biscuits.
MARTIE That's right. There's no leftover biscuits. It's like there's no crying in baseball. There's no leftover biscuits.
CHADWICK I mean, if you do, then you're doing something wrong.
MARTIE True that, my friend. All right. So I think we've gotten a pretty good number of secrets out of you. Is there one thing that we've done wrong our whole lives that we need to do right? I mean, that we can fix.
CHADWICK So I will, um, tell you one thing that Ms. Carla, um, my biscuit Boo has taught me to answer in a serious way your question about leftover biscuits, um, she just taught me how to turn them into biscuit crackers.
CHADWICK So if you have leftover biscuits you slice them about, um, just less than a quarter of an inch thick and then you lay them down on a sheet pan that is buttered and then you put them in the oven and they turn into crackers and then you can just, like, spread pimento cheese on them. I mean, they're real, real, real good. And they're in Carla's cookbook, Carla Hall's Soul Food.
MARTIE That's one I'm going to have to try. And you could eat it with your soup. So good. [5.6s]
CHADWICK I mean, but I mentioned pimento cheese, though, Martie. I mean, biscuits and pimento cheese? Come on.
MARTIE They're just such a natural thing. Right?
MARTIE They go together. Like what?
CHADWICK Like Martie and Chadwick. Or John Travolta and Olivia Newton John.
MARTIE Oh my goodness. Well, listen, I just want to say, Chadwick, you have given us a lot of insight into biscuit baking and taken us back to Grandmama's Kitchen and helped us learn to wait for that smell before we open the door. So many great tips. Thank you for being part of our biscuit episode.
CHADWICK Well, I am just sad that this is over because I've had a blast and, uh, there's nothing more that I love to do than to talk or bake biscuits with people, whether I know them or meet them for the first time.
MARTIE Again, thank you for being our guest on Homemade. We have loved learning from you and we cannot wait to get to go to a Biscuit Time class with you and Carla somewhere in this world.
CHADWICK Yes, ma'am. We're ready too.
MARTIE You can find out more information on Biscuit Time and all that Chadwick's up to at ChadwickBoydLifestyle.com or on his Instagram, @ChadwickBoyd.
I hope you've enjoyed today's episode and can use some of these tips next time you make biscuits.