It’s 9/11. How will this day ever be anything other than what it is? It seems that every year it comes upon us faster and faster like a waiting, patient reminder that when you think you’re so busy with the Fall of life that life can so easily fall away. It’s a testament to life moving forward that this day is no longer preceded by months or weeks or even days of reminiscing. And yet when it is here, sitting in our lap, it is so heavy. So heavy. Oh America. Oh my heart.
Comfort can come in so many ways yet food is always the easiest for me. It’s been a difficult upstart to Fall. I’ve been craving biscuit dough in my hands and in my oven for two weeks. The velvet feel of biscuit dough soothes my mind when the world seems to rage. Patting and shaping the pillowy mound then pressing an old jar with a small opening through the delicate dough peppered with my favorite seasoning or “add-ins” then picking up the rounds and nestling them together on a cookie sheet brings me back to what is simple, what is here, what is the opposite of heavy.
Callie’s Biscuits has been my go to gift for those in mourning. When I happened to be in Charleston this summer at the opening of Hot Little Biscuit, I told this to Carey Morrie as she signed a copy of her cookbook. In her wise and biscuit loving heart she glowed in the knowledge that her biscuits have gone across the country to friends and family at their saddest times. And while I was hesitant to tell her this, her reaction and her inscription was spot on, “Biscuits are the comfort food of the south.”
So, today, this day: biscuits. These are roasted hatch chili and cracked black pepper buttermilk biscuits inspired by the two women pictured above. Then I stuffed like sandwiches. The one upfront is black forest ham, baby swiss cheese, tomato, avocado and a honey and dijon mustard sauce. The background is roasted turkey, tomato, avocado with a sriracha mayonnaise. Comfort in a biscuit.
I roasted the hatch chilis. Here are their various states of undress. Even comfort can use some spice.
And, today, whatever your feelings, I leave you with this beautiful word:
- 2 cups self rising flour
- ¼ cup cream cheese
- 5 tbsp. butter, cooled to room temp. and divided
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tbsp. cracked black pepper
- ¼ cup diced roasted hatch chilis, at least 2 fresh chilis if roasting at home
- One or several days ahead, roast the chilis. Place at least 2 hatch chilis on a foil like baking sheet under the broiler on high for 15 mins. or until the skins are burned. You may smell the chilis as they burn. You may open the oven and check on them, but they should be very blackened.
- Turn the chilis and broil the other side for 15 minutes or until blackened.
- Place the blackened chilis in a sealable container. If using the same day, let the chilis cool for at least an hour. If using later, place the container in the refridgerator.
- Remove the charred skin from the cooled chilis. Slice and chop the green flesh. Reserve ¼ cup for the biscuits. Save any remaining for other dishes.
- To make the biscuits, preheat the over to 450.
- Place 2 cups of flour in a medium bowl with the cream cheese and 4 tbsps. of butter. Use your hand to "cut in" the fat. Using one or both hands you will massage the butter and cream cheese with the flour until the mixture resembles course sand. All flour should be incorporated. This takes some hand strengthen and is a great hand workout.
- Pour the buttermilk, the hatch chilis and the pepper into the flour mixture and use a mixing spoon to bring the dough together. This will be a very sticky dough as the chilis add even more moisture. You can add flour if the dough seems too sticky and it not forming a rough ball when turned.
- Liberally flour a work surface and scrape the dough onto it. Liberally flour the the mound of dough. Using your hands, pat the dough to about ½ inch thickness. Use a small glass dipped in flour to cut your biscuits. Place biscuits close together as your move them to your baking sheet. Gather the scrap dough, pat down, cut and place on baking sheet. Repeat until all dough is used.
- Place the biscuits in the oven for 14-16 minutes or until a very little golden color appears on the top.
- Melt the remaining 1 tbsp. of butter.
- Remove the biscuits from the oven and brush with the melted butter.
- Place the biscuits back in the over for 2 minutes.
- Enjoy plain or stuffed like a sandwich.