Italian-Canadian chef Tony Cammalleri of gourmet Toronto grocers Pusateri’s didn’t grow up eating or baking biscuits, but over the years he’s developed mad biscuit baking skills, solely because biscuits are ah-mah-zing.
“My first real encounter with this style of biscuit was, funnily enough, at Red Lobster,” the chef recalls. “I remember thinking, ‘Whoa, this crazy! Uber buttery and intense!’ Now, I consider myself to be a professional biscuit taster, thanks in large part to Alan Yueng, the Head Chef at Pusateri’s Yorkville location. He’s been perfecting our biscuit recipe for the past six or seven years. We’ve been tasting his permutations and tweaks almost monthly – and now I think he’s totally perfected the recipe.”
Chef Tony suggests using biscuits to sop up soup and sauces, or topping your next shepherd’s pie or potpie with a layer of them. He also uses them as the base of a scrumptious eggs Benny, and has recently launched a breakfast burger for Pusateri’s, featuring a cheddar bacon biscuit topped with brown sugar, bacon sausage, aged cheddar, and a sunny-side-up egg.
If that doesn’t have you drooling, check your pulse.
Thankfully we managed to pull Chef Tony away from his kitchen alchemy for long enough to score his tips — and Pusateri’s recipe — for the best biscuits this side of N’awlins.
Chef Tony’s Pusateri’s recipe calls for bacon and cheddar, but he invites you to get creative with additions, substituting like for like (gruyere or parmesan instead of cheddar; salami or ham instead of bacon). “You can also use your favourite herbs, or add jalapeno for a nice spicy bite,” he says. “Or don’t add any meat or cheese and keep it plain and simple – the biscuits are so good you won’t even miss the extras!”
CHEF TONY’S TOP TIPS FOR BAKING THE BEST BISCUITS
- Buy a good-quality, salted butter for better flavour.
- Don’t dice your butter. Instead, grate it with a cheese grater – and it has to be super cold.
- Butter should be the last thing you add after the dry ingredients, along with buttermilk, and you want to process the recipe very quickly. Roll it out, cut it, and bake as quickly as possible so that your butter doesn’t start to melt.
- Brush your biscuits with buttermilk. You can use milk as well, but buttermilk gives a nice tang. Then sprinkle with a little bit of Maldon salt before baking to enhance the flavour.
- Be sure to bake your biscuits in a minimum 375-degree oven, and use convection mode if your oven has it.
PUSATERI’S BUTTERMILK BISCUITS WITH CHEDDAR AND BACON
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 312.5 milliliters buttermilk, plus extra for brushing
- 4 ounces butter, cold
- 3 tablespoons baking powder
- 1 tablespoon kosher salt
- 2 tablespoons Maldon salt
- 90 grams cheddar cheese (optional)
- 6 slices bacon (optional)
- Dice bacon and cook to render off fat. Drain and cool and set aside. (Optional)
- Combine flour, cheese (optional), kosher salt, and baking powder. Mix together.
- Grate in butter.
- Add buttermilk, and stir until everything is just combined. Do not overwork the dough.
- Turn on to a floured surface. Roll out, and fold over in thirds, three times.
- Roll out dough to ¾-inch thickness. Cut out in 3.5-inch rounds. Re-roll scraps as you go.
- Place 2-inches apart on a lined baking sheet. Brush tops with more buttermilk and sprinkle with Maldon salt flakes.
- Bake in a 375-degree oven until golden brown, about 15 minutes.
Yields 6 biscuits.
A final bite from Chef Tony: “Biscuits are perfect anytime of the day. Don’t think of them as one-meal appropriate. If you try different biscuit recipes that are more heavy on the sugar, for instance, they’ll be perfect next to your morning tea or coffee. Look for different biscuit recipes for different occasions and different times of day.”