Biscuits!November 12, 2014
As you’re getting your grocery list together for Thanksgiving, skip the frozen rolls. Upgrade to some Southern-style biscuits (& gravy!)
Biscuits are a cornerstone of Appalachian cuisine, and a staple in Southern West Virginia.
We’re not talking about that thin dough you buy in a tin. We’re talking about thick, hearty, homemade biscuits. A good biscuit is golden brown on the outside, and soft and flaky inside.
Appalachian Biscuit History
Cornbread started out as the more common Appalachian bread, because it was more convenient: easier to make, and cheap.
When people started worrying that cornbread was unhealthy, beaten biscuits (an early form of biscuit, which was really more like a cracker) were touted as an alternative. But, with their complex recipe and pricey ingredients, the biscuits were more of an upper-class delicacy.
After milling became more common, people could get flour to make fluffy biscuits more easily, so they gained popularity.
Biscuits might take a little extra touch, but a home-baked batch is sure worth the effort!
Old-time biscuit recipes used lard, rendered right on the family farms. But more commonly, shortening, oil, cream and butter are used today.
Buttermilk biscuits are the most iconic, prized for their softness and buttery taste. The old-fashioned favorite was the fluffy cathead drop biscuit, named for being “as big as a cat’s head.”
For Thanksgiving, you can also be festive with sweet potato biscuits, which also include a hint of nutmeg or cinnamon.
There are lots of traditional ways to serve biscuits. You can fill them with whole-milk cheese, or top them with honey, butter, jam or applebutter. Fill them with ham or sausage to make them a meal. As a dessert, they taste great with sugar, honey and berries.
But usually, biscuits pair with gravy— sausage gravy. It uses the leftover fat from pan-cooked sausage (in cast-iron cookware, of course) sizzled with flour and spices. Cayenne pepper sometimes adds a hint of spiciness.
Some people add bacon fat to make combination gravy. Or, red-eye gravy, which is made with ham and a hint of coffee for an extra kick. Veggie or onion gravy are also tasty and dynamic. Of course, turkey gravy might be the easiest Thanksgiving option. We suggest a gravy bar so people can choose their own flavor.
Where to Buy Biscuits
But if you don’t want to cook your own biscuits, you can always buy some. But buy real biscuits from a local restaurant, not flavor-void biscuits from a can.
Ask any Southern West Virginian where to get the best biscuit, and you’ll likely hear Tudor’s. Tudor’s Biscuit World is top-notch, and you can find them all over the region.
Loved for their massive size and melt-in-your-mouth buttery flavor, Tudor’s serves them up as sandwiches, stuffed with gooey cheese, sizzled potato hash browns, egg, pepperoni and more.
Here are some other places to taste a hearty helping of country biscuits:
- The Bluestone Dining Room at Pipestem serves buttermilk biscuits with traditional sausage gravy or ham. You can also have them delivered to your room at the resort.
- Cafe One Ten in Oak Hill serves up hot biscuits for breakfast.
- Smokey’s on the Gorge has biscuits on their gourmet breakfast buffet, which pair perfectly with their sweet & savory maple bacon.
Pair your biscuits with Thanksgiving gravy by the quart from Tamarack.
What’s the best biscuit you’ve every eaten?