Monday, September 21, 2009

Sara Sizzles: Fancy Schmancy Bisquits

Welcome to post #1 of Sara Sizzles. Sara is a former coworker that I just ADORED. She's one of those really neat people that has tons of interests and ALWAYS has a fabulous story to share. Sara also LOVES to cook. While we worked together she was always willing to share her recipes. Our listeners loved them and I know y'all will too! I am especially excited because Sara THE VERY FIRST contributor to my blog!! Woo Hoo.

Sara's Fancy Schmancy Biscuits
Make ‘em big to go with soup, or make ‘em bite-sized to serve with wine and cheese. Delish!

3 cups Pioneer Buttermilk Baking Mix*
1 ¼ cup milk (use whole if you can, but no biggie if you only have skim or 2%)
6 slices pancetta, chopped into about ¼ in pieces*
¾ cup Kraft Parmesan Cheese, kind in the green can
1 teaspoon Lawreys Salt*
2 tablespoons FRESH GROUND black pepper*
1/3 cup finely chopped fresh parsley (optional, but makes them pretty)
Melted butter for brushing the tops (again, to make with the pretty)

Preheat your oven to 425˚
To start, toss the pancetta in a small nonstick skillet on medium high heat for a couple of minutes to crisp it up some. It will start to darken and curl a bit like bacon, but you still want it a bit soft. Remove from heat and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine Pioneer mix, milk, crisped pancetta, Parmesan cheese, parsley if you’re using it, salt and pepper in a bowl. CAREFULLY mix together, it’s really important when making biscuits not to over mix, as it will toughen the dough. Just mix until everything has come together and you don’t see anymore visible mix. The dough will be wet, this will give you moister, more tender biscuits that are stand-up-and-shout good.

Dip your fingers into some extra baking mix, and grab hunks of dough about the size right between a golf ball and a tennis ball and drop onto a greased cookie sheet, leaving at least 2 inches between each mound. Re-dip fingers after each drop to keep too much dough from sticking to your hands. Or alternately, if you are wanting to make hors de ouvres sized biscuits, you have two options. Either drop cherry sized pieces the same way on your greased cookie sheet, or grease a mini muffin tin and fill about 2/3 full. This gives them a pretty, smooth bottom that sits a bit better on a platter.

Brush tops with melted butter, and (if you really want to get crazy sprinkle with a little more Parmesan) bake for approximately 12 minutes for large biscuits, and 7 minutes for small, or until the tops are brown and everyone in the house is in the kitchen wondering what smells so good.

Serve hot or at least warm. Can be made up to 5 hours in advance and rewarmed in the oven or microwave for about 10-20 seconds.

I insist on Pioneer Brand. It’s simply the best baking mix ever, and it’s made right here in Texas. All their products are fantastic, and they have a booth at the State Fair every year. I think cream gravy out of a package is sacrilegious and bordering on child abuse, but theirs is the only kind I’ve ever used that tasted like mine and I wasn’t tempted to use as wallpaper glue.
Panchetta is an Italian style of smoked pork that is sliced very thin and is milder than bacon. You can substitute bacon in a pinch, but only use 4 pieces instead of 6, and drain it after cooking. THEY SELL PANCHETTA AT WALMART, it’s usually over by the cold cuts.
Lawreys Season Salt is one of my favorite things ever. Please don’t substitute. I know I’m starting to sound like Sandra Lee here, but brands really do make a difference!
Always, always, ALWAYS use fresh ground pepper. The flavor is so different, it’s more than just the hot black specks that preground is. Pepper actually gets hotter the longer it’s ground/cooked in things, so always grind fresh and always add your pepper last to your recipes!

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