Just in time for Thursday’s Thanksgiving holiday, Food Network Star winner Damaris Phillips, a lifelong southerner with a knack for baking and the host of Southern at Heart, is demystifying biscuit making so that you can skip the store-bought tubes of dough and make your own buttery beauties at home. This Kentucky native is known for enjoying her biscuits with gravy for breakfast, and just last month she took the stage with fellow Food Network Star alum Justin Warner at the New York City Wine & Food Festival to fuse her classic recipe with another morning favorite: bagels and lox. She walked fans through the step-by-step of creating this hybrid breakfast while chatting about basic biscuit-and-gravy how-tos, like simple tricks for cutting biscuits and the importance of cooking the flour in the gravy roux. Read on below to get Damaris’ top-six tips, then try her recipe for Sweet Potato Biscuits with Peppered Pork Loin, Apple Mustard Butter and Salad.
1. Don’t worry if you don’t have a fancy biscuit cutter at home; a round glass will do the trick.
2. There are two kinds of biscuits: flaky and cakey. Damaris prefers the cakey variety, as they’re better suited for sopping up gravy, so consider this if you plan on serving your biscuits with gravy as well.
3. When making the roux for the gravy — the mixture of fat (here, butter) and flour — it’s important to let the flour cook for a bit so it loses its raw flavor. The more you cook it, the darker the roux will be.
4. Opt for warm milk instead of cold when adding the liquid to the roux; this will help it better incorporate.
5. Pepper is a must when making traditional Southern gravy. Don’t be afraid to use plenty of it.
6. To best serve biscuits and gravy, slice the biscuit open like a book, then flip it over, so the top and bottom sides are facing up and the insides are flush on the plate. You’ll be better able to glide your fork through the biscuit this way once it’s topped with gravy.
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