Tuesday, June 9, 2015

On The Menu: Red-Eye Ham/Biscuit Squares

Step one: Soak the ham for an hour in warm water. Why? I couldn't figure it out, but I did it anyway. After carefully reading the recipe, I came to the conclusion that nothing involved in the preparation of the ham filled me with culinary feelings of inadequacy. I understood all the steps and was feeling pretty confident. The biscuit squares, however, were a different story. They filled me with a sense of foreboding and dread. So, I put off making them as long as possible. You see, I do not really bake from scratch. Ever. I began to wonder why I had picked this recipe to start my retro recipe cooking adventure. I had heard that red-eye gravy was tasty, but now, I was apprehensive and unsure. I gave myself a pep talk. I could do this. Forty five minutes into the ham soaking period, bolstered by a pre-pre-dinner cocktail, I took a sideways glance at the first step to prepare the biscuits: cut the shortening into the flour. I cautiously approached my bowl of dry ingredients (snuck up on it, really) and began to gingerly add the shortening a little at a time. I opted for a butter knife technique of my own creation, where I furiously traced tic-tac-toe grids over and over across the entire surface of the bowl with the tip of the knife, hoping that by literally cutting (stabbing) the shortening it would work. And, it did. The recipe card indicated that I should stop cutting in the shortening when it was the size of small peas. Done.
After the wet and dry ingredients were combined, I began to roll out the dough.  I found that I did not have enough counter space to roll out the entire batch at once.  So, I improvised as best I could and rolled, cut, and buttered small batches at a time.  I ended up with twelve biscuit squares, which close to the sixteen the recipe says it will yield.  I just figured my biscuits were slightly more generous.  Perhaps the early seventies were a time of stingy biscuits. I slid the baking sheet into the oven, quickly closed the door and immediately felt calmer.  While the biscuits were baking, the ham was really no problem.  I figured out the benefit of soaking as soon as the meat hit the pan.  The slices of ham released all that extra moisture as they cooked and it added a lot of flavor to the gravy.  Red-eye gravy really couldn't be simpler. After the ham is cooked through, remove it and then de-glaze the pan with one cup of coffee.  After it comes to a boil and simmers a bit, just spoon the red-eye gravy over the ham.  It's absolutely delicious.  It tastes simultaneously of coffee and smokiness and hammy goodness.  So, the ham was a hit.  As for the biscuits, they were perfect.  Now, it could've gone either way.  I could have just as easily been standing in the kitchen screaming "you think you're better than me!" to charred biscuit remains  Thankfully, I had a bit of beginner's luck.  They were so good.  Tiny squares of buttery goodness.  They were a revelation.  Maybe I should bake more.


  1. Well it is good that you are embarking on all this cooking, I am sure more baking will be involved. I am glad that you did so well for your first meal.

  2. Those biscuits were amazing! They will haunt my dreams...