I just love baking (and eating) biscuits, and this recipe elevates them with the addition of parmesan cheese and basil. The cheese gives the biscuits its savoriness and slightly crumbly texture, while the purple and sweet basil, which came from my garden, adds a subtle peppery, yet sweet flavor. These rich biscuits make a wonderful accompaniment to pastas, soups, and salads. They’re also great for making Italian breakfast sandwiches filled with slices of prosciutto and eggs. Above all, they are absolutely delicious to eat plain, with only a generous dab of butter.
The key to these biscuits is to use good parmesan cheese (i.e., do not use the stuff in the green can). Parmesan is a salty cheese, so taste a little bit of the dough before adding any more salt.
Parmesan Basil Biscuits
Yields approximately 24 biscuits
4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups freshly grated parmesan cheese
2 – 3 tablespoons chopped basil, to taste (I used both purple and sweet basil)
2 tablespoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt (omit if the cheese is very salty)
1 teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
6 tablespoons vegetable shortening, chilled
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, cut into small pieces and chilled
1 1/2 cups whole milk, chilled (you may use buttermilk)
Preheat the oven to 425°. Line two baking sheets with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, parmesan, basil, baking powder, salt, sugar and baking soda. Using a pastry cutter or 2 knives, cut in the chilled shortening and butter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. (I prefer to use my fingers to incorporate the butter and shortening into the flour mixture.) Add the milk and mix gently until just incorporated. Overworking the dough will make the biscuits tough.
Turn out the dough on a floured work surface. Using a rolling pin, gently roll out the dough to a 13-inch round, about 1/2 inch thick. With a 2 1/2-inch fluted biscuit cutter, cut out as many biscuits as possible. Transfer to prepared baking sheets, leaving about 1-inch between biscuits.
Bake for approximately 18 minutes, until they are golden brown and risen. Serve hot or warm.
Adapted from Food and Wine.
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