Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Making Biscuits the Old Fashioned Frugal Way

(First for my British readers, sorry I don't mean cookies, I mean the scone dumpling type things that we here in the New World refer to as biscuits.)
Have you ever saved the fat from your cooking to make somethings else? Bacon drippings to cook eggs in for days, beef fat, chicken drippings? Not that long ago oil was too expensive for most people to buy and so they gleaned the fat the they used to cook from what they already had on hand. My mom did this while I was young and today I am going to pass this on to you.

Like all of my recipes, this one started as something else entirely. A few days before this I roasted a chicken in a crockpot. I made a rack out of potatoes, so what I really did was put a few potatoes underneath the chicken in the pot so that it wouldn't sit in the drippings. I put the chicken on top of them and rubbed it with butter and sea salt and ground pepper and fresh rosemary leaves. I was quite pleased with how it turned out, it was very tender and it actually turned a nice golden color. I cooked it on low for several hours. When it was ready there was all of this really ice broth in the bottom of the crockpot, and the butter and fat had been rendered as well. I chose not to make gravy and instead returned the uneaten chicken to the pot with some more water and cooked it overnight to make more broth. Then I strained the broth and picked all the meat from the bones. At this point I ladled all of the fat that I could skim from the top of the broth into a small bowl that I put in the fridge. Don't worry if you get some broth mixed in as well, it will separate after it cools.

Then I made soup.


I added all the leftovers I had in my fridge. I had corn and brown beans and some chicken and basil sausage that I sliced and browned and added at the end. There was barley in there as well. And it lasted for two meals. For the first we had leftover bread from something else to go with the soup. Two days later I pulled it out again to serve for dinner and also pulled out the skimmed fat.


I put about 2 1/2 cups of flour in the bowl, 2 tsp baking powder and a pinch or two of salt. I stirred it all together and added the fat from the bowl it comes out easily in one piece and cut it in like you would lard. until it was all evenly distributed. It comes out looking coarse and grainy but my picture of that is really dark. Those little bits in the fat are rosemary leaves from the chicken which added a really nice layer of flavor.

See how there is broth left at the bottom of the bowl, I just put that back in the soup.


Then I added about one cup of warm water. Only add it a little bit at a time until it looks like this. If you add it all at once you may end up with too much and a wet dough.

Then I shaped then with my fingers on a nonstick pan and cooked them at 350 for about half an hour, shorter if you make yours smaller than mine.
ready for the oven

And there you have it, a better tasting less expensive way to make biscuits.


Rose said...

Okay, I love this idea! I do like making biscuits (and I use that exact same flour!) But I have always been very aggressive about skimming off fat and throwing it away (after frying ground beef, bacon, etc.) because I've read that animal fat retains the most impurities. In other words, just like catfish, being bottom-feeders and all that, are nature's toxic waste dump on the food chain, fat is the body's toxic waste dump in the animal. What do you know about this? Or would it be okay to eat the fat only if we bought totally organic, farm-raised, healthy animals?

Scuzzlewump said...

About how much fat would you say you got from the chicken? I know different sized chickens will give off differing amounts of fat, and was just wondering what your best guess would be on an amount that would work best with your recipe.
I love making biscuits and have this really cool vertical grill that drips off the fat as things cook (pork chops, chicken legs, sausages, whatever will fit), and it would be really neat to be able to use those drippings instead of shortening or lard.

Carrien said...

Scuzzlewump- I would say I got about 1/2 cup more or less.

Rose- I couldn't find anything in particular on animal fat and toxins yet, but I did pull out my nourishing traditions cookbook and found some interesting things that may become a post when I have time to type. Briefly, it says that consumption of animal fat has gone down, and vegetable fats have gone up in this century and there has been either no difference or a slightly higher level of disease that was thought to be caused by animal fats. That was from Fats That Heal, Fats that Kill by Somebody Udo.

Okay, I must dash again I have a holiday feast to put the finishing touches on.

Stephanie said...

Yum... I made rolls for dinner the othernight using bacon drippings. I would think it would be equally as good with chicken fat.


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