Friday, May 22, 2009

Evening with Friends

The other evening we were pleased to entertain
our friends Susan and Mary at the Farm. I fired up the grill and made some spice and dark sugar-rubbed true country ribs, Vidalia onions and carrots. Mary brought potato salad and watermelon. We had a great time drinking Firefly Iced Tea with lemonade, playing with the turkeys and having a grand old time. I also tried out a new recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits.

I'm not normally a biscuit kind of girl. I'm from Iowa, and biscuits are nice, but not a religion like they are here in the south. However, since I'm a recipe tester for a cooking magazine and this month's test recipe was Sweet Potato Biscuits-re do, I decided to make them for our discriminating Southern-born friends. They received four human thumbs-up reviews, and several paws-up reviews from the dog audience gathered in the kitchen. Later that evening Mary's dog, Dudley the Deadly Dachshund, pinched and ate every biscuit I sent home with them. That was okay as he needed to gain a few ounces, anyway, but here's the recipe so Mary can make some more, and you can too. And yes, I do cook with lard. If you haven't heard, that solid vegetable shortening can kill you. Non-hydrogenated lard is wonderful stuff. 'Nuf said.

Sweet Potato Biscuits
Makes 16 biscuits

2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes (4-5 medium)
2 T cider vinegar
3 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cup packed dark brown sugar
5 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 1/2 t salt
8 T (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into 1/2 inch pieces, chilled
2 T unsalted butter, melted
4 T lard, cut into small pieces

1. MICROWAVE POTATOES: prick potatoes all over with fork. Microwave until skin is wet and potatoes are very soft, 15-20 min., flipping enough to handle, scoop flesh into bowl and mash until smooth. (You should have two cups. If you have excess, reserve for another purpose.) Stir in vinegar. Refrigerate until cool, about 15 minutes.

2. MAKE DOUGH: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 425 degrees. Line rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, chilled butter, and lard in a food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to bowl with cool potatoes and fold with rubber spatula until incorporated.

3. FORM BISCUITS: Turn dough out onto floured surface and knead until smooth, 8-10 times. Pat dough into 9-inch circle, about 1-inch thick. Using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter (or glass) dipped in flour, cut out biscuits and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Pat remaining dough into 1-inch-thick circle and cut out more biscuits.

4. BAKE: Brush prepared biscuits with melted butter. Bake until golden brown, 18-22 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes. Serve slathered with butter or jam or sandwiched with ham and mustard.

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