Cinnamon Butter Pan Biscuits and Black-Eyed Peas & Collards Hotdish: A Piece of Cake #49 & #50
Two new recipes for the first day of 2022.
Let’s just get this out of the way: Thanks to Omicron sweeping through NYC, the photography in this issue is brought to you by Andrew’s iPhone. We couldn’t make one of our normally scheduled shoots happen, but I didn’t want anything to keep me from sending these two recipes out before New Year’s. We’ll be back with Hunter (and Brooklyn) by New Year’s Eve!
These recipes started with a request from my husband. He wanted this last issue to be a brunch menu. Because what’s better than a New Year’s Day brunch? A New Year’s Day brunch you can make in your underwear. After a night of too much champagne, you need a hearty main dish, some warm cinnamon-scented biscuits… and another glass of champagne.
It’s been well-documented in this newsletter that I am from the Finger Lakes. And you may be wondering (fairly!) why a white guy from upstate New York is making black-eyed peas and collards. Well, that was the other part of Andrew’s request: he’s from North Carolina and wanted to keep his family’s good-luck tradition of eating collards and black-eyed peas on New Year’s Day. Check today’s Quick Bites for more on the Black American roots of that tradition. My hotdish version is a little more breakfast-y, and midwestern, than the greens and black-eyed peas Andrew grew up with. But I didn’t hear any complaints when we tested the recipe. The cinnamon butter biscuits probably helped.
I probably don’t need to explain what hotdish is, because Molly Yeh has been spreading that good news for years. Hotdish doesn’t need any more introduction beyond “tater tots.” But this New Year’s brunch hotdish has ham hocks, greens, and black-eyed peas hiding under those tots. I simmered the hocks with onions, bay, and black pepper until they were tender. But if you’re in a rush, you can use really thick-cut bacon. Crisp it up and cook your shallots in the fat. Then replace the ham broth with some really good stock. And I have some great news for your future hungover self: the hotdish filling can be made the day ahead. Just spread the warmed filling in the dish when you wake up, cover it with tots, and bake while you’re having coffee.
Now I couldn’t do a brunch menu without a biscuit. These layered cinnamon butter biscuits are inspired by recipes from two of my favorites, Kelly Fields and Tara O’Brady. When I think of Kelly Fields, I think of biscuits. I mean, The Good Book of Southern Baking has SEVEN biscuit recipes. (To be fair, I am including the dog biscuit recipe in that count, but still.) I’ve recently been intrigued by yeasted biscuits, and Kelly’s Angel Biscuit has a combo of yeast, baking powder, and baking soda. Wild. I started with that recipe as my base, and this is a fairly close adaptation. But I layered that biscuit with salty-sweet cinnamon butter. The added fat led to a bit of slumping in the oven in my first test, but it also gave the biscuit a great crispy bottom. So I pressed on.
While I was contemplating a solution, I remembered a recipe that Tara wrote last year around this time; a slab biscuit recipe for Epicurious. Tara bakes her slab biscuits in a 13x9 pan and offers both a sweet and savory option—which is brilliant recipe writing, btw. Following her lead, I put my layered Franken-angel biscuits into a pan, and wouldn’t you know? They’re great. These are morning-of biscuits. They come together in a flash, and you don’t need to let them rise. The three leaveners help them puff right up in the oven.
Pour some juice, brulée some grapefruit, and you’ve got a little Southern-midwestern-anywhere New Year’s brunch. Speaking of the new year, to everyone who’s subscribed through the first year of this newsletter, I cannot thank you enough or tell you what your support means. I’ll spare you the sentimental mush, but your DMs, comments, emails, and pictures make this all worth it. Thank you for coming on this journey with me. I can’t wait to see what we make together in 2022.