Pecorino & Pepper Biscuits

Preparation info

  • Difficulty

    Medium

  • Makes about

    twelve

    2½ inch 6 cm ) biscuits

Appears in

Baking-powder biscuits and cheese are a natural combination, but I like the cheese to be completely absorbed into the dough rather than appearing as little lumps in the baked biscuits, as it often does in traditional cheese biscuits. Grating the cheese finely and then giving it a spin in the food processor with the butter does the trick. By the way, resist the temptation to try any kind of blue-veined cheese in this recipe, unless you really like gray biscuits. Also, the amount of salt in this recipe is purposely small to compensate for the saltiness of the cheese.

Ingredients

  • cups all-purpose flour (spoon flour into a dry-measure cup and level off)
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • teaspoons coarsely ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • 3 ounces Pecorino Romano, finely grated, about 1⅓ cups
  • 8 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into 12 pieces
  • ¾ cup milk or buttermilk, plus 1 to 2 tablespoons, if needed
  • 1 cookie sheet or jelly-roll pan lined with parchment or foil

Method

  1. Set a rack in the middle level of the oven and preheat to 400°F (200°C).
  2. Combine the Hour, baking powder, pepper, and salt in a mixing bowl and mix well.
  3. Combine the grated cheese and butter in the bowl of a food processor fitted with the metal blade. Pulse several times to mix the butter and cheese together. You might need to scrape down the inside of the bowl with a thin metal spatula once or twice and pulse again to make sure they are thoroughly mixed. The whole process should take about 30 seconds—you don’t want to soften the butter too much. Use the metal spatula again to scrape the cheese and butter mixture off the side and the bottom of the bowl.
  4. Add the flour mixture and pulse 6 or 8 times to combine the butter and cheese mixture thoroughly. Add the milk and pulse again 3 to 4 times until the dough is thoroughly combined but does not form a ball.
  5. Invert the dough onto a floured work surface and carefully remove the blade. If there are dry areas in the dough, sprinkle with up to 2 additional tablespoons of milk. Use a bench scraper to fold the dough over onto itself several times to make it a little smoother.
  6. Lightly flour the dough and press it into a rectangle about ½ inch (1 cm) thick. Use a floured plain round cutter up to inches (6 cm) in diameter to cut out the biscuits. Press straight down with the cutter—twisting it as you cut prevents the biscuits from having straight, even sides when baked.
  7. Arrange the cut biscuits on the prepared pan about 1 inch ( cm) apart. Press the scraps together and cut more biscuits, then discard the remaining scraps.
  8. Bake the biscuits for about 20 minutes, or until they are well risen and nicely golden.
  9. Serve the biscuits immediately or cool them before serving.

Serving

These are excellent with baked ham—split the biscuits and fill each one with a small piece of ham. They’re also very good with a hearty soup, such as minestrone.

Storage

Keep the biscuits loosely covered with plastic wrap on the day they are baked. Double wrap in plastic and freeze for longer storage. Defrost and reheat at 375°F (190°C) for about 5 minutes before serving.

Variations

Parmigiano-Reggiano Biscuits: Substitute Parmigiano-Reggiano for the Pecorino Romano. Decrease the pepper to ½teaspoon or leave it out—too much pepper will drown out the delicate flavor of this cheese.

Gruyère Biscuits: These are a personal favorite. Substitute real Swiss Gruyère for the Pecorino Romano. Pepper or not, as you wish; they’re excellent either way. If you use these for ham sandwiches, add a thin smear of Dijon mustard.

Old-Fashioned, Baking-Powder Biscuits: Omit the cheese and pepper and increase the salt to ½teaspoon. Pulse the dry ingredients in the food processor first, then add the cut-up butter and proceed with the recipe from the middle of step 4.

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