When it comes to biscuits, I haven't always had the best luck. All too often my biscuits are dense and dry despite following the "rules" - really cold ingredients (especially the butter if it's part of the recipe), cutting the butter in only until the pieces are pea-sized, not working the dough too much, not twisting when cutting, etc. Maybe I should blame it on my northern roots - I definitely don't remember eating many biscuits as a child, but for whatever reason flaky, tender, buttery biscuits have eluded me. Until now that is.
Enter Ina Garten's chive biscuits, which I found while flipping through her book Barefoot Contessa Family Style. I decided to give them a go to accompany the chili I made for dinner this week - we had a few cold, damp days and chili and biscuits seemed like the perfect comfort food. These biscuits are made using a stand mixer (though certainly you could do it by hand too) and I think this is now my preferred method for making biscuit dough. I really felt like the mixer made it easy to pull the dough together without overworking it. Instead of cutting rounds from the biscuit dough, I patted mine into a rectangle and just used a knife to divide the dough into eight biscuits. I kept peeking into the oven (through the window) to see if they were rising as they baked, and they did! These were the biscuits I've been waiting for - light and fluffy, tender on the inside, with just a bit of subtle flavor imparted by the chives. They were fabulous, especially warm from the oven! If chives aren't your thing, you could substitute just about any other herb or a combination of herbs or even cheese.
from Barefoot Contessa Family Style, by Ina Garten
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon sugar
8 tablespoons (1 stick) cold unsalted butter, cubed
3/4 cup half and half
1/2 cup chopped fresh chives
1 egg mixed with 1 tablespoon water (optional egg wash)
Preheat oven to 400 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Add the flour, baking powder, salt and sugar to the bowl of a stand mixer fitted with the paddle attachment. Mix on low briefly to combine. Add the butter to the bowl and mix on low speed until the pieces of butter are the size of peas. With the mixer still on low speed, add the half and half to the bowl in a steady stream. Mix only until just combined. Add the chives and mix briefly just to distribute them throughout the dough.
Sprinkle your work surface with flour and turn the dough out of the bowl. Pat the dough into a rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Cut rounds from the dough with a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter (cut straight down, don't twist the cutter). Transfer the rounds to the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops of the biscuits with the egg wash, if using.
Bake for 20-22 minutes, or until the tops are browned.
Yields 8 biscuits