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Kitchen Adventuring

Cabin biscuits for your Montana kitchen

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After months and months of cold weather and short days in Montana, I am always ready for the thaw and the warmer days of summer. We have earned those nice sunny days after the long and sometimes brutal winter. And we all have different ways of celebrating those most perfect days.

For our family, it’s monthly trips to my parent’s cabin south of Big Timber along the Boulder River. The cabin is so close to the river you can almost fly fish right from the patio. The towering mountains on either side of the valley cradle you on days when you want to be away from it all. Thankfully, it’s out of cell phone service too.

It’s far enough south of Big Timber that we have to pack our food in thoughtfully to avoid long trips back to town. There is only so much we can fit in our small SUV, so we try to bring ingredients that have multiple uses and aim for simpler dishes.

Out of this framework was born a favorite of ours that gets baked nearly every time we visit called “cabin biscuits.” They are crisp on the outside while fluffy and flaky on the inside. But the buttermilk goodness is complimented by some savory cameos from other ingredients that make it to the cabin — bacon, cheddar cheese and scallion. They are the perfect partner for other savory partners, like making a breakfast sandwich or biscuits and gravy. But they also need no partner if you just like to enjoy their buttery goodness.

Watch the light reflect off of the river’s ripples, listened to the newly returned birds, or take a walk in the morning sun cresting over high peaks. Those are all moments of bliss that can only be magnified with a cabin biscuit in hand.

A few helpful tips for the best biscuits. First, try to always keep your ingredients as cold as possible before they go into the oven. Second, you want your ingredients to be incorporated well, but you also don’t knead biscuit dough like you do normal bread. Lastly, biscuits are best when enjoyed right out of the oven or at least the day they are baked.

Cabin Biscuits Recipe

Ingredients: 

2 cups flour

1 stick of butter plus 1 tbsp for brushing tops

½ teaspoon baking soda

2 tablespoons baking powder

½ teaspoon kosher salt

1 cup buttermilk

4 strips of bacon

3 scallions

2 ounces cheddar

Black Pepper

Directions:

Cook your bacon until crisp and then place on a plate lined with paper towels to drain the grease. Allow to cool and then chop into ¼ inch pieces. Dice your cheddar cheese into very small pieces. Run your knife down the center of each scallion, then chop finely across. Place all of these ingredients back in the refrigerator to chill.

Combine your flour, salt, baking soda, and baking powder into a large bowl. Cube the cold butter into ¼-inch pieces and place into the dry ingredients. With a pastry cutter, a fork, or your fingers, smash the butter into the dry ingredients until you don’t have any large butter pieces in the mixture.

Add the bacon, scallion and cheddar to the mixture first and incorporate well. Add the buttermilk and gently incorporate with a fork until the dry ingredients are one mass. Add a little bench flour to your countertop, put the biscuit mixture on your counter top, and add a bit more bench flour to the top of the biscuit dough.

With a rolling pin, flatten the mixture out to about 1½-inch high, and then fold in half and roll once again to 1-1½-inch thick. Repeat this 5-6 times, adding topical flour as needed to keep it from sticking to your rolling pin and the counter. This process is adding the flaky layers to the biscuits.

With a 3-inch round biscuit cutter, you should be able to get 6 clean rounds. Press straight down with the biscuit cutter without twisting. You can get another 1-2 biscuits by pressing the scraps together and using the biscuit cutter. Place on a parchment-lined baking tray. Put them back in the refrigerator for 15 minutes while you preheat your oven to 450 F.

Melt the one tablespoon of butter and brush the biscuit tops. You can also push a dash of cracked black pepper on the tops if that is something you like. Place them into the oven for 16-18 minutes, until the tops are golden brown. Brush the tops once again with any remaining melted butter when they come out of the oven.

Jon Bennion is a native Montanan, born and raised in Billings. Outside of his day job as an attorney, you can find Jon experimenting in the kitchen and developing recipes that often feature a Montana ingredient or story. Jon posts on Instagram as Intermediate Chef (@intermediatechef) and lives in Clancy, MT.

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