There are so many wonderful options to choose from when you are looking to eat your feelings. Ice cream, peanut butter pretzels (peanut butter anything really), dried mangos, whatever is within arm’s reach after the THC edible starts to kick, all great choices. But for me it’s bread. Croissants, butter rolls, kouign-amann, cinnamon rolls, a big ole hunk of crusty, rustic sourdough, it doesn’t matter, so long as it is glutenous it’s my jam, in that upon it I will put jam.
You could go the route that many have and learn to make your own naturally levained boule, but then you risk running afoul of folks on social media trying to naysay the small amount of fun you are trying to have during quarantine (and all the journalists feigning a similar smug outrage in order to create content). And while I would never dissuade anyone from experiencing the pure joy of pulling a perfect loaf of homemade sourdough out of the oven, might I suggest a different bready bite. Let’s make some fucking biscuits!
Not just any biscuits, mind you, but the recipe from current James Beard Semifinalist Briana Holt of Tandem Coffee in Portland, Maine. And if neither the buttery comforting goodness nor the biscuit’s esteemed origins are enough to pull you in like a cartoon character being whisked off their feet by an alluring aroma, then perhaps knowing that these “Beneficial Biscuits” are for a good cause will add a little extra sweet to your savory.
Like many cafes in the world right now, Tandem has had to temporarily close both locations due to COVID-19 concerns. Instead of going the virtual tip jar route, the folks at Tandem decided to sell Holt’s frankly quite amazing “super-secret, sweet-and-salty recipe,” with all the “biscuit bucks” going to “directly benefit Tandem staff.” Included in the pay-what-you-can fundraiser ($5 minimum) is a how-to video with Holt herself, giving you a 25-minute play by play.
When I heard about this, the first thing I did was buy the recipe, and let me just say, these are the best biscuits I’ve ever had in my life. Decadent, flaky, salty, and just a hint of sweetness, it is perhaps the perfect biscuit, as suited to jam as they are butter or white gravy. I’m speaking from experience here, as I spent about an hour Sunday following the rather simple and straightforward recipe and then the rest of the day binging on all potential iterations. Peanut butter and jelly and biscuits? That’s lunch right there. Bacon, egg, cheese, and sriracha biscuits? Why that’s breakfast for dinner. Add in a few “because I’m passing the bag” a la carte butter buddies and you’ve got a full day’s meal plan, my friend.
The best application, though, is a little something I like to call the Portland Connection. It’s a Portland, Maine biscuit smothered and covered in homemade mushroom gravy based upon how I remember Portland, Oregon’s Pine State Biscuits’ mushroom gravy tasting. Luckily, as a born and bred Southerner, my blood type is basically cream gravy, so it was a fairly easy code to crack.
Want the recipe? Here goes. First make a roux by slowly simmering—and stirring, always stirring—a 1 tbsp:1 tbsp combination flour to oil (bacon drippings preferred but not required). Is your roux done? Nope! Keep going. Ready now? WRONG! Keep stirring. Alright fine, stop if you want a half-done roux. Now add just a little milk and stir. Once it starts to thicken, add a little more. Still stirring. Wait for it to thicken again, and repeat and repeat, etc until you’ve got what looks like white gravy. Then add in the handful of chopped mushrooms you sautéed earlier. Did I not mention that? You’re definitely going to need those. Whatever, you probably assumed and got every mise en its right place. Salt and paper to taste. And voila, gravy!
I can assure you Holt’s direction is much more linear. And you know what else is linear? All the money raised from her biscuit recipe goes straight into the pockets of Tandem staff. The Beneficial Biscuits recipe can be purchased directly from Tandem Coffee’s official website. Once you’ve made them, you’re certainly going to want to show them off on the Gram, and when you do, make sure you use the hashtag #showusyourbiscuits. Maybe yours will make a cameo on Tandem’s stories.