Ham, Parm, and Chive Biscuits
There is a sweet little cafe and bakery close to my house which has some of the best pastries I have ever had. It is located just next door to the place I get my nails done, so I always treat myself to a latte and something delicious from their pastry case when I am on my way to get pampered. (Treat yo self)
While chocolate croissants, macarons, and apple tarts are delightful, I always end up going for the savory options. Specifically, they make a ham and cheese biscuit which is to DIE FOR. Biscuits are brilliant in that they are basically a vessel for other flavors, not unlike mashed potatoes.
It dawned on me, as I was walking home from the cafe munching on a freshly purchased biscuit “why the hell am I paying $4 for this? I can make these my damn self!”
I began reviewing some different recipes and one of my favorites is a recipe by Local Milk, found here, but the recipe has a small yield. This is usually great, cause biscuits are always best eaten fresh and this recipe is perfect for two people on a Sunday morning. Alternatively, this Bon Appetite recipe appeared to have a technique that would jive well with my idea of flakey biscuits which can hold some delightful hammy and cheesy nuggets inside.
I ended up following the BA recipe and it was the wise choice for a couple of reasons. 1.) The technique really complimented flakey layers that could accommodate some additions (ham and chives) without weighing them down and 2.) the recipe is has a higher yield, so you end up with more biscuity goodness.
The first time I attempted this, I had a little bit of difficulty stacking and rolling out the dough as the recipe instructs to create those delicious buttery layers that only a biscuit can have. Bon Appetite thankfully has a video which features the recipe to show the technique involved and I highly recommend watching. Regardless of the biscuit recipe you go with, I'm pretty sure I will be cutting my biscuits like this from now on!
Savory Ham and Chive Biscuits
3/12 cups all purpose flour
2 tsp salt
2 tsp sugar
2 1/5 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp baking soda
1 cup butter, cold and cut into pieces
1/4 cup chopped chives
1 cup buttermilk
3/4 cup diced ham
4 tbsp butter, melted
1/2 cup parmesan
Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
Dice ham into tiny pieces, you want each cube to be and 1/4” in size or smaller. Also prep your other ingredients; chop chives, grate parmesan with a fine grate or microplane, set aside.
Place diced ham into a dry pan and cook in the stove for about 5-8 minutes on med-high heat, or until they are just starting to brown. Remove from heat and set aside too cool.
Place flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, sugar, and combine in a food processor. Pulse the dry ingredients together for even distribution. Add cubed butter and pulse until butter is evenly distributed throughout and in pieces roughly the size of peas.
Move flour/butter mixture to a large mixing bowl and mix in chives.
Slowly pour chilled buttermilk and stir with a fork until evenly distributed throughout flour/butter mixture. Carefully and quickly, use your hands to further mix dough until the flour is mostly saturated with buttermilk, but butter is still cold. If the dough starts to feel like it it coming to room temperature, STOP MIXING. Dough should be shaggy and dry, but not too crumbly.
Pour the dough onto a floured work surface and compress the dough into a squared pile and begin to roll out. I used a bench scraper to periodically smoosh in the sides to keep the dough in a square shape.
Once rolled out to about 1’, divide into 4 even squares and set two of the squares aside.
Place 1/4th of ham on top of the bottom square and lay the other square evenly on top. Roll these out until they are 1’ inch flat.
Repeat step 7 with remaining two squares.
You should now have two squares with a hidden layer of ham in the middle. Pick one of these and sprinkle on remaining 1/2 of ham and place the last square on top. Roll out to 1.5’’ thick.
Divide into 12 even squares (3 by 4 grid) and place onto a parchment paper lined baking sheet. Chill for 15 minutes in the fridge or freezer.
While the biscuits chill, heat remaining butter in a small sauce pan.
Pull out biscuits and brush with melted butter, top with a sprinkle of parm, and ground black pepper.
Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until edges are golden and the bottoms are dark, golden brown.
Eat immediately and enjoy!
**A couple of suggestions for the biscuit making with this recipe:
One is kneading the dough after incorporating the buttermilk to make make sure that all of the flour is at least slightly saturated but the buttermilk, but not enough that the butter starts melting - so work fast. Whenever I read recipes for biscuits or pie dough, it is stressed that the dough should be “dry and shaggy” Honestly, I have found that it needs to be more shaggy than dry. If the buttermilk is not incorporated enough, you’ll end up with some biscuits that don’t rise and some that are so dry and crumbly that they fall apart as you eat them.
Additionally, part of the technique they use in the BA recipe, is to initially roll out the dough into a square, divide the square into 4 quadrants, stack them, and then roll them out again like that. I opted to divide the square into 4 then roll out 2 quadrants together and then the other 2. I found this made it easier to roll everything out without a crumbly mess all over my counter.