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Bacon Cheddar Chive Jalapeño Biscuits

  My gosh, I get so sucked in sometimes.

  Friday found me in a foul mood.  I was absorbed in my own dread of just...everything.  Then that night, while I was stuffing down potato chips and reading a mushy book, my best friend walked into my room.  Her laughter at the sight of me hurriedly shoving the empty bag beneath my bed coaxed out the first genuine smile of the day.  She's pretty good at getting me to see the big picture.

  It's a good thing too, because I'm a bit of a dweller.  This has its ups and downs.  Right now, it's a downer.  My senior year is stretched out before me, and all I can do is worry.  Worry about classes, graduation, my party, and generally just what the heck I'm going to do.

  Worry worry worry.

  I've revised this post so many times, trying to cover everything up with happy descriptions of biscuits.  In the end, I decided to get real.  Yes, those worries are running through my head, folks, but I'm not going to let them define me.

  As I stared at the computer screen last night, willing some magical witty banter about biscuits to pop into my head, I was distracted by an intermittent boom from outside.  I ignored it.  But after 10 minutes, my patience was lost and I shoved away from the keyboard, determined to find the source of the incessant noise.

  I went outside with my sisters, and was met by the sight of a huge firework popping in the distance.  Fireworks.  In our backyard.  After a few seconds of delay, the boom followed, and echoed off of our farm buildings.  I ran blindly into the pitch black behind the shed and sat down in the damp grass, pulling my knees up to my face.  I sat like that for the duration of the fireworks, watching the sky and the reflections off of my sister's faces in turn.  The finale came, making me tense between each round of fireworks, waiting for the crazy rat-tat-tat that was surely traveling towards us.  It was amazing. 

  I could've stayed inside, frustrated and dwelling.  But I didn't.

  I got out of myself, looked at the big picture, and saw something pretty spectacular.

  Oh, and then I ate a phenomenal biscuit...and you should too.  Happy Sunday, and no worries.  

Bacon Cheddar Chive Jalapeño Biscuits
Yield: 10-12 biscuits

Ingredients for the bacon:
  • 7 slices of bacon (turkey bacon is acceptable)
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • coarsely ground black pepper, as desired

   Ingredients for the biscuits:
  • 3 cups flour
  • 1/4 cup yellow cornmeal
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • 4 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 3/4 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper
  • 3/4 cup cold buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup cheddar cheese, in small cubes
  • 1 medium jalapeño, seeds partially removed (or completely removed, if you're spice-sensitive) and diced small
  • 3 tablespoons chopped chives
  • 3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold and cut into small cubes

To candy the bacon, place a rack in the center of the oven and preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Line a baking sheet with foil or parchment paper and spread bacon across the baking sheet in a single layer (If using foil, you might consider spraying it with some cooking spray for easier release.).  Sprinkle the bacon with brown sugar and black pepper.  Bake until crisp and cooked through, about 13 to 15 minutes (if using turkey bacon, keep a watchful eye, as it cooks much faster than regular).  Remove from the oven and carefully use tongs to place the hot bacon on a cutting board.  Don't use paper towels, as the bacon will stick.  Allow to cool until able to handle, then chop the slices into medium chunks.  Place in a medium bowl and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F and line 2 baking sheets with parchment paper.

In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, cream of tartar, salt, and pepper.  In a small bowl, whisk together the buttermilk and egg.  Add the cheddar cheese, jalapeño, and chives to the bowl with the bacon and toss together.  Set aside.

Add butter to the flour mixture.  With your clean fingers or a pastry blender, work the butter into the flour until the flour resembles a coarse meal; some butter chunks will be the size of small pebbles, others the size of oat flakes.  Toss the bacon mixture into the flour/butter mixture.  Create a small well in the center and add the buttermilk mixture all at once.  Toss together with a fork, making sure that all of the flour bits are moistened.  Dough will be shaggy.  Dump onto a lightly-floured work surface and knead for 8-10 seconds, just enough to bring it together.  Pat into a 1 1/2-inch-thick circle.

Use a 2 1/2-inch biscuit cutter to cut rounds.  Gather dough scraps, knead lightly, and cut out more biscuits until the dough is gone. (If you don't have a round biscuit cutter, just use a knife to cut the dough into 12 small squares.) Place biscuits on prepared baking sheets.  Bake for 12-15 minutes, or until the edges of the biscuits turn a light golden brown.  Allow to cool slightly before serving.

Biscuits are best served the day they're made, but they can also be stored in an airtight container at room temperature and served the next day.

Sources: adapted from Joy the Baker's Cookbook, and these biscuits