Some foods rile up chefs and diners more than others, ensuring a food fight of epic proportions.
Take the biscuit. Use butter, shortening or lard? Go with buttermilk or milk? Eggs or no eggs? Does the type of flour matter? Keep it simple or go over-the-top with improvisation?
“In the South, everyone thinks their biscuits are the best,” says Brian Wiles of Durham, North Carolina-based Rise Biscuits. “Sometimes it comes down to personal preference, but it’s always because you’re baking with pride.”
Southerners lay claim to the biscuit, but it has stretched far beyond, increasing its presence on menus nationwide by 99 percent over the last four years, according to research firm Datassential. Chef-driven establishments like Chicago’s Giant Restaurant can fetch $7 for two small, fresh-baked biscuits with jalapeno butter, while 61 Local in Brooklyn, New York, offers corn biscuits with hot honey and butter for $6.
Biscuits are also proving they can headline a concept. Last year, casual dining chain Cracker Barrel joined the biscuit arena’s fast casual fray, a trend that’s been led by independents. Its first Holler & Dash in Homewood, Alabama, serves signature biscuit sandwiches, such as fried pork tenderloin with blackberry butter and fried onion straws, and country ham with red-eye aioli, kale and apple butter.
For the most part, biscuit love gets a nod for low food costs, usually around 15 percent. The price of improvisation depends on how far you want to take this baked good.
For example, Chef Chris Uhrich's doughnut-biscuit hybrid, the doughscuit. Meanwhile, Chef Carrie Morey, of Callie's Hot Little Biscuits, whips up her own peppery take on the beloved country staple.
Food Fanatic's top picks for knockout biscuits:
Try the MacGregor biscuit, made with bacon, cheese and caramelized onions.
Spring for the sour cream biscuits with pimento cheese spread and spiced buckwheat honey.
Try the housemade corn biscuits, served with hot honey and local butter.
Make a point to enjoy everything bagel drop biscuits with sawmill gravy and fried eggs.
New Orleans, LA
Take a chance on the maple bacon sweet potato biscuit.
Photography by Frank Lawlor