Beginner Cook - Short Cooking Time - Baked Goods - Side Dishes - Vegetarian
Biscuits are the mascot of Southern cuisine and one of my cherished childhood memories. Every Sunday, my father would rise before the rest of us, and prepare a fresh batch. Staying true to my mother's Appalachian upbringing, he always used buttermilk and shortening. After spending 15 years in the Northeast, I had forgotten about biscuits, until relocating to North Carolina a few years ago. By then, I had become weary of shortening, and developed a deep appreciation for extra virgin olive oil. Not only did I value its health benefits, I was also learning from my Greek mother-in-law how to use it beyond a simple salad dressing or marinade. Cinnamon and almond shortbread cookies, muffins, baklava, pastry dough - eventually, olive oil was in all my cooking. That's when I began to wonder: would it be possible to achieve a respectable Southern biscuit with olive oil?
A key biscuit characteristic is its light fluffy, sometimes flaky, interior. To achieve this consistency, the fat used must have a solid form such as cold lard, shortening, or butter. As a result, oil is not considered appropriate. However, most do not realize, that pure extra virgin olive oil hardens when frozen. In fact, the refrigerator trick is sometimes viewed as a good test to assess whether an olive oil has been diluted with other seed oils. If unadulterated, it should thicken, become opaque, and eventually harden after several hours in the freezer.
After testing various recipes, I concluded that hardened olive oil similar to frozen butter was easiest to work with. As it cools, the oil develops a texture comparable to lard and shortening. However, it is easier to work with when fully hardened.
When trying this recipe, there are a few important considerations to keep in mind:
Ingredients (yields 6-7 biscuits)
Time - 25 minutes (not including time to freeze the olive oil)