Carla Hall brings biscuits front and center in return to Food & Wine
Former ‘Top Chef’ fan favorite ‘drops some biscuit knowledge’ on opening-day crowd
Biscuits in the morning are always a good idea. Biscuits in the morning with Carla Hall to kick off the Food & Wine Classic in Aspen are an even better idea and an unbeatable combination.
Hall returned Friday to the presenter’s stage at the Classic to “drop some biscuit knowledge,” as Food & Wine magazine deputy editor Melanie Hansche put it.
Hall impressed by cooking up three biscuit recipes — which will be featured in the November issue of the magazine — in the hour-long seminar while also sharing some history on the southern staple.
“I wanted people to understand not only the history of biscuits, but also the different iterations of biscuits,” said Hall, who is originally from Tennessee.
First up was chicken and dumplings, which she explained are connected to the biscuit by way of slavery.
“When you think about scones and biscuits, you think about the English, you think about well, they did it so how do African Americans play into this? It’s through slavery and the enslaved,” she said, later adding “the biscuits sort of traveled and that’s where the enslaved learned how to do the biscuit.”
From there, Hall kept the audience entertained with her quick wit and vibrant personality while whipping up a batch of her flaky biscuits, which she said are her everyday go-to’s. “I can do (the recipe) from start to finish in the oven in nine minutes.”
Very important in the process of making these flaky baked goods was not overworking the dough, barely patting it together (Hall described the handling of the dough as like her cat gently batting a toy around) and then rotating and folding the dough to create the layers.
The final recipe of the day was what could be dubbed as “Carla’s crackers,” (think a southern version of a Stacy’s Pita Chip) which are a clever way to use biscuit leftovers that Hall thought of when she was running a restaurant.
“People overthink cooking,” she said, “and I really wanted people to understand, if you connect the dots, you know a lot more than you thought you did.”
Throughout the seminar, in addition to the cooking demonstration, the exuberant former “Top Chef” competitor (seasons five and eight) and cookbook author dished out a plenty of usable tips and tricks for biscuit baking and creating dishes to impress.
“I want you to take all these tips and then I want you to figure out what works for you,” Hall said to the excited audience, who spent most of the session hooting and hollering at the chefs jokes and joining in on a biscuit chant.
Hall also encouraged the audience to be your own hype person and compliment your cooking while also adding “compliments” to the recipe.
“You know what I call (salt)?” Hall asked. “Compliments. You know why I call it compliments? Because if you don’t use it, you ain’t going to get no compliments.”
Back in 2013, while working on a proposed box set of archival recordings, singer-songwriter Melissa Etheridge came across a group of songs that had been recorded in the late 1980s but never released.
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