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"Fast Foodies" co-host Justin Sutherland says the first time he met Rach, he promised to show her how to whip up his biscuits. He made good on that during his last visit and then some, pairing them with gravy, fried eggs and pickled Fresno chiles—a combo he calls "the OG field-hand fuel." No surprise, she loved it!
He also shared these tips for the flakiest results:
1.) Always use frozen butter (that goes for biscuits AND pie dough).
2.) Use the coarse side of a box grater to shred the butter.
Note: Feel free to scale down the pickled chiles recipe, which needs to be prepared at least three days in advance. You can also substitute store-bought pickled chiles. As for the gravy, this recipe makes a substantial amount. You can use it all for the four servings here, if you'd like, or you can use less and store the leftover gravy for three to four days in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
For the pickled Fresno chiles, make a sachet by wrapping the garlic and ginger in a square of cheesecloth and tying it up with butcher's twine. Place the sachet in a large stockpot. (Note: If you don't want to make a sachet, add the garlic and ginger directly to the brine and strain the brine through a fine-mesh chinois or strainer before pouring over the chiles.) Add the vinegar, water, brown sugar, and salt and bring to a boil. Stir until the brown sugar and salt dissolve.
Remove the pan from the heat and allow to cool to room temperature. Discard the sachet. Pack the chiles in a large glass jar and pour the brine over. Cover with plastic wrap, gently pressing the wrap down on top to make sure everything is submerged.
Store in your refrigerator for at least 3 days prior to serving to allow the pickling process to complete.
For the biscuits, cut the butter and lard into pea-size pieces and freeze in a covered container for about 30 minutes. Meanwhile, preheat your oven to 350°F. Grease a baking sheet.
Sift together the flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or your fingertips, cut the butter and lard into the dry ingredients until the mixture has the consistency of coarse sand.
Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the buttermilk, chives, cheddar, and bacon. Using your hand or a wooden spoon, stir together until a shaggy dough just comes together. Important: Do not overwork the dough. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface, dust the top with flour, and gently fold the dough over itself eight times.
Flatten the dough into a 1 ½-inch-thick rectangle and cut into eight to ten 3-inch by 3-inch squares. Arrange the biscuits on the greased baking sheet at least 1 inch apart. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, until the tops are golden brown and the centers are cooked through. Serve warm.
For the gravy, in a large skillet, combine the ground pork, bacon, onion, and garlic. Cook over medium heat until the pork is browned and crumbles, 6 to 8 minutes. Add the thyme and rosemary and cook just until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Stir in the flour, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute, stirring constantly. Slowly pour in the milk, stirring constantly until the flour is mixed thoroughly with the liquid.
Bring the mixture to a simmer and stir often until the mixture thickens to a medium-thick gravy, about 5 to 7 minutes. Add the butter and stir until it is well incorporated. Taste, adjust the seasoning if you'd like, and keep warm over low heat.
To assemble the dish, fry the eggs. Warm up 4 biscuits, split them in half using a fork, and divide the biscuit halves equally among 4 plates. Ladle the warm gravy in equal portions over the biscuits, then place 1 egg on top of each biscuit. Garnish with pickled Fresno chiles.
Adapted from Northern Soul by Justin Sutherland. Copyright © 2022 by Justin Sutherland. Used with permission by Harvard Common Press. All rights reserved.