Buttermilk Ramp Biscuits

 

Buttermilk Ramp Biscuits, hot from the oven

Nothing says “Country Breakfast” like fresh, hot buttermilk biscuits.

There’s really nothing hard about making biscuits. With a little bit of practice, you can whip up a batch in 15 minutes or less (plus baking time, of course).

Our old, but trusty pastry cutter. It's been around forever.

Our old, but trusty pastry cutter. It’s been around forever.

The secret to making great, flaky biscuits lies in a few basic principles.

  1. Chill all of your ingredients before you start
  2. Cut in the fat with a pastry cutter
  3. Add just enough liquid to hold the dry ingredients together
  4. Use liquid with a slightly acid pH
  5. Don’t overwork the dough
  6. Use a sharp biscuit cutter

If you stop to think about it, most cooking, including making biscuits and other quick breads, is nothing more than applied organic chemistry.

Light, flaky biscuits result from thin layers of moist dough, separated by layers of fat (lard, shortening or butter), raised high by heat and trapped gases generated by the reaction between bases (baking powder & soda) and acids (buttermilk, vinegar, lemon).

Don’t have buttermilk?  Use milk with a couple of tablespoons of lemon juice or yogurt mixed in.  Don’t want to use lard?  Use shortening or butter instead.

Once you understand the basic chemistry of cooking, it’s easy to make substitutions and create your own variations.

Ingredients:
Use smoked hog jowl if you can get it.

Use smoked hog jowl if you can get it.

  • 1/4 lb smoked hog jowl, cut into 1/4″ dice (substitute thick sliced bacon if jowl is unavailable)
  • 4 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 Tbsp baking powder
  • 1 Tbsp baking soda
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1/2 cup pure lard or shortening
  • 2 cups buttermilk
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fresh ramps, including greens (reserve 1 Tbsp white portion for ramp butter, recipe follows)
  • 1/4 lb softened butter
  • Pinch paprika
Sliced Ramps

Sliced Ramps

Make the biscuit dough:

Cook the hog jowl or bacon in a large skillet over medium high heat until crisp. Remove from pan and drain on paper towels until cool.

Sift the flour, salt, baking powder and baking soda together into a large bowl. Using a pastry cutter or two knives, “cut in” the lard until it’s in little flour-coated pieces the size of a grain of rice. Take care that you do not cut the lard or shortening too finely – it’s easier than you might think. When the dough is rolled out, it’s these tiny globules of fat that will make your biscuits light and flaky.

Add the sliced ramps and crisped jowl and gently stir in just enough buttermilk to make the dry ingredients adhere into a soft ball of dough. Do not mix any more than absolutely necessary. It’s OK if the dough is not completely homogeneous at this point – the kneading with take care of any lumps or unincorporated ingredients.

Turn the dough out onto a well-floured surface. Dust your hands with flour and gently fold the dough on itself just until all the ingredients are evenly incorporated. Add a little flour to the kneading surface as you go if the dough is too sticky. Be careful not to overwork the dough.

Dough Rolling and Slicing

Roll the dough & cut the biscuits:

Biscuits, Ready for the Oven

Biscuits, Ready for the Oven

Using a rolling pin well-dusted with flour, roll out the dough until about 3/4-inch thick. Cut the biscuits with a sharp biscuit cutter or 3-inch diameter tin can with both ends cut out. Do not use a glass or jar to cut the biscuits. It’s important to make sharp, clean cut if you want your biscuits to raise high and flaky and a glass will pinch the edges of the biscuits together.

When you have cut all the biscuits you can from the sheet of dough, gently knead the leftover portion back together into a mass. Again, roll the dough 3/4 inch thick and cut the remaining biscuits.

Lightly grease a baking sheet and arrange the cut biscuits spaced evenly on it, about 2 inches apart.

Ramp Butter

Ramp Butter

Make the ramp butter:

Lightly cook the reserved 1 Tbsp of ramps in a little of the fat from the hog jowls until slightly softened and translucent. Set aside to cool slightly. Put the softened butter into a small bowl and mix in the ramps and paprika, stirring vigorously until the butter is smooth and all ingredients are incorporated. Use a small food processor if you prefer.

Bake the biscuits:

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Brush the tops of the raw biscuits with a little of the ramp infused butter.  Place the biscuits into the pre-heated oven for 15-20 minutes or until golden brown.

Serve immediately with more of the ramp butter.

Makes 12 – 16 biscuits.

Tall, flaky biscuits, fresh from the oven

Tall, flaky biscuits, fresh from the oven

 

 

Curly Divider

 

Many of the ingredients used in this recipe, and other recipes on the Earthy Delights Blog, can be purchased online at our retail website, Earthy.com. We welcome you to visit the Earthy.com website to view our extensive selection of hard-to-find ingredients and our complete Recipe Collection of over 500 tested recipes.

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Breads & Baked Goods, Wild Foods
16 comments on “Buttermilk Ramp Biscuits
  1. Wow, what a lucky find. A friend of mine arrived home from Muskoka with a bucket full of wild leeks and gave me some. I asked the almighty google what to do with them, and they pointed me here. Aside from these wicked biscuits (tasty without the pork, for other veggies out there), we’ve also had them with grilled scallops, and done up in a fritatta. And I’ve still got about 2 lbs left. When the friend comes down with more this weekend, I think I’m going to make the marmalade recipe.
    Thanks for a great site, I’ve subscribed to your feed, and will post a link to you from my blog.

  2. Ramps have just come into season here in Ottawa (we call them wild garlic, or L’Ail du bois)and I made this recipe last night. Although I have no idea where to obtain a hog jowl, I used thick sliced bacon and had excellent results. The biscuits turned out exactly like the picture, and the ramp butter was a perfect complement.

  3. Wow- these really make me miss home! I especially love that you’ve incorporated ramps into this country classic…will definitely be making this, and teaching my UK family about the true meaning of the word ‘biscuit.’

  4. I just started making biscuits not long ago and couldn’t believe how easy it was! I guess I was intimidated by cutting in the butter but with a pastry cutter, it’s really not that hard. I’d love to try your recipe with the bacon in it!

  5. I know that ramps taste great and make us feel close to nature because they’re wild, but please keep in mind that they’re starting to get over-harvested. No sense in celebrating the wild by wiping them out.

    • John, I understand your concerns. We support the responsible harvest of wild products. Thus far, there is no worry of overpicking of ramps or wild leeks by any of the foragers we work with. Ramps do more than make us feel good about connecting with nature; they are a very nutritious wild food and have a indescribable wild flavor like nothing else. As long as we are good stewards and harvest responsibly, ramps and wild leeks will continue to be an infinitely sustainable resource.

    • Thank you, Grace. My mother is a southern gal too – I learned to make biscuits from her. Don’t even get me started about fried chicken!

  6. Just found this site (OCT 2011) while looking for biscuit recipes. I just had to try it — w/wo ramps. Used organic scallions. Absolutely delicious! Ate them with sliced tomatoes on top…yum, yum! Can’t wait to order some ramps in the Spring.

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