Christmas Eve was a bit different for my family this year. Instead of my mom hosting (and making most of the food), we decided to go to my brother and sister-in-law’s house instead … and they, along with my husband and I, would do all the cooking. Umm, how did that happen exactly?
I’m happy to report that after a very long day of cooking, everything turned out just fine. There were a few bumps along the way, but we rolled with the punches, and I’m pleased with the food we put on the table. The star of our show was a 3-foot pork loin wrapped in pork belly (dubbed “Porkzilla” … I figured we’d better go big or go home … or, well, back to my mom’s house). Because pork always seems to remind me of the South, I created a Southern-themed menu around Porkzilla.
One of the items on our menu was homemade sweet potato biscuits, to be served with homemade honey butter. The sweet potato biscuit recipe below is from the November 2003 issue of Everyday Food (with my adaptations noted). Slathered with warm honey butter, these were a Southern delight indeed.
- 1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for kneading and shaping
- 2 tablespoons light-brown sugar
- 2 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 6 tablespoons chilled unsalted butter, cut into pieces, plus 1/2 tablespoon melted butter and more for pan
- 3/4 cup Sweet-Potato Puree, chilled (recipe below)
- 1/3 cup buttermilk
1. Make the dough: In a large bowl, whisk together flour, sugar, baking powder, salt, and baking soda. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in butter until mixture resembles coarse meal, with some pea-sized lumps of butter remaining. In a small bowl, whisk together sweet potato purée and buttermilk; stir quickly into flour mixture until combined (do not overmix).
2. Shape the biscuits: Turn out dough onto a lightly floured surface, and knead very gently until dough comes together but is still slightly lumpy, five or six times. (If dough is too sticky, work in up to 1/4 cup additional flour.) Shape into a disk, and pat to an even 1-inch thickness. With a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out biscuits as close together as possible. Gather together scraps, and repeat to cut out more biscuits (do not reuse scraps more than once).
3. Bake the biscuits: Preheat oven to 425 degrees. with rack on lower shelf. Butter an 8-inch cake pan. Arrange biscuits snugly in pan (to help them stay upright). Brush with melted butter. Bake until golden, rotating once, 20 to 24 minutes. Makes 8.
NOTES: We cheated and skipped step 2. Instead, we used a medium-sized scoop to portion out the dough, a la “drop biscuits.” The finished product was a bit more rustic looking, but tasted great just the same.
- 3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch chunks
- Maple-butter, orange-ginger, or lime-cayenne flavoring (optional)
- Coarse salt and ground pepper
1. In a large saucepan, cover potatoes with water. Bring to a boil; cook until tender when pierced with the tip of a paring knife, 15 to 20 minutes.
2. Drain potatoes; puree in food processor. Add flavorings, if desired (see below). Puree.
3. Season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.
FLAVORINGS: For Maple-Butter: Add 2 tablespoons each melted butter and maple syrup; serve puree with more butter and syrup. For Orange-Ginger: Add 1/4 cup each milk and orange juice, 2 tablespoons melted butter, and 2 teaspoons minced fresh ginger. For Lime-Cayenne: Add 1 tablespoon lime juice and a pinch of cayenne; thin with a bit of cooking liquid, if needed.
- 3/4 cup butter, room temperature
- 1/4 cup honey
1. In a small bowl mix butter and honey until smooth. Store, covered, in the refrigerator.
Oh, whatever happened to Porkzilla, you ask? Well … he was one of those “bumps along the way” I mentioned above. We had planned on cutting him into slices so that everyone had a piece of loin wrapped with belly, but after spending over 8 hours on the smoker, Porkzilla was so tender that slicing just wasn’t an option. So, you know that old saying, “When life gives you lemons, you make lemonade?” Well, when life gives you a too-tender Porkzilla … you make pulled pork.