Bacon-fat biscuits with apple, white cheddar and rosemary

biscuits, buttered, on a plate

One of the things that I’ve noticed in my old Alaska cookbook research is the way Alaska cooks, especially in the earliest days, didn’t waste. That’s definitely true when it came to fats. In the first part of the last century, which produced some brilliant church cookbooks, butter wasn’t in great supply (unless there were cows) and refrigeration was spotty. Olive oil was not in the picture. Bacon fat makes a number of appearances in savory baking.

Last time I made some bacon (the nitrite-free variety) in the oven, a friend suggested I keep the grease. I poured it in a jar, put it in the fridge and have been baking with it, subbing it in for butter in savory pie crusts and cornbread. It provides great flavor. I have to say this biscuit recipe might have elevated it to its finest use. These biscuits are sweet and salty, rich, crispy on the outside and soft inside.

I’d encourage you to experiment. Try other sorts of cheese and different herbs like thyme or sage. The apple adds a wonderful sweetness, but you could skip it. Crumbled sausage or cubed ham might be awesome. If you don’t have bacon fat on hand, use butter and add bacon. I’d strongly advise making these into breakfast sandwiches the next day.

Bacon-fat biscuits with apple, white cheddar and rosemary

2 cups flour
1 1/2 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon sugar
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper
3 tablespoons bacon fat, cold
3 tablespoons butter, cold
2 teaspoons chopped fresh rosemary (dry works fine too)
3/4 cup peeled, super finely chopped apple
3/4 cup grated white cheddar cheese
1 cup cream, plus more to brush on biscuits

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, sugar, pepper and salt. Using your hands, work the fats into the flour mixture to form a coarse meal (you can also do this in the food processor). Add the cheese, apple and rosemary to combine. Pour in the cream and mix until the dough comes together. Turn it out onto a floured surface and knead it gently until it comes together. Roll it out to about a half-inch thick and cut with a cutter or a glass. Put on a parchment-covered baking sheet, brush with cream and bake for 22-25 minutes or until golden on the top. Serve hot.