February is a fine month to celebrate biscuits. After a month of well-intentioned self-denial in January that maybe included a new gym membership, and before March when spring weather means the shedding of belly-hiding sweaters, February feels like a built-in cheat month.
February is also the month we honor the contributions of African-Americans to American history and culture. While it would be impossible to uncover the first biscuit recipe, it is certain that biscuits and gravy have been connected to the South since before the Civil War. And the sad truth is that most cooks in the South at this time were slaves, not Paula Deen’s great-great grandmother.
A classic cookbook that incited a resurgence and reverence of Southern cooking around 40 years ago called "The Taste of Country Cooking" by Dr. Edna Lewis includes two recipes for biscuits; in both, she recommends baking powder made by sifting cream of tartar with baking soda. Store-bought baking powders leave a bitter, chemical aftertaste, she believed.
A granddaughter of slaves, Lewis took her family’s recipes passed down from generations of living off Virginian land to New York City’s legendary Cafe Nicholson in 1948, where Truman Capote made frequent trips for her fresh biscuits. In a recommended New York Times article titled “Edna Lewis and the Black Roots of American Cooking,” she is credited as placing “Southern cooking in the pantheon of great cuisines” and her epitaph today forever marks her as the “Grande Dame of Southern Cooking.”
Whether your biscuit inspiration comes from Southern culinary history or simply tingling taste buds for America’s fluffiest carb, Dallas has some creative ideas for what can go between a biscuit. Here are six biscuit sandwiches where gifted epicures have expanded and evolved the traditional biscuit into soft yet sturdy supports for delicious fillings. We reckon biscuit sandwiches aren’t the healthiest meal, but they sure taste good going down.
Dude, Trust Me biscuit at Goodfriend Package, $61155 Peavy Road (East Dallas)
Everyone knows grape jelly tastes great on a biscuit, but have you tried adding peanut butter and chorizo to that? You should totally trust Goodfriend Package on this one and try it. A sandwich and bottle shop related to the dearly departed Blind Butcher, Goodfriend Package has always prided themselves on knowing where their meat comes from.
Butcher’s former sous chef, Brian Bell, now heads Goodfriend’s meat program and works out of their dedicated, offsite meat garage grinding out the spicy chorizo for this adult PB&J on a beer biscuit that’s going to require extra napkins. It’s available Monday through Friday until 2 p.m., and on weekends, Goodfriend switches to their “not breakfast” menu at noon.
Nacho Regular Biscuit at Hypnotic Donuts, $89007 Garland Road (East Dallas)
and 235 W. Hickory St., Denton
This 420-friendly East Dallas hangout has been serving as the city’s stand-in Voodoo Doughnut for almost a decade now. Not only does Hypnotic sell those creative, bacon-topped donuts along with vegan options, they also do chicken biscuits (not vegan). On the permanent menu, there’s the carb-on-carb Maribeth with fried chicken, tater tots and pepper gravy. General manager and “Donut General” Joshua Griffin says the kitchen doubles their gravy recipe on cold-weather days when Maribeth sales quadruple.
Hypnotic also has featured Biscuits of the Month-ish, like the current Nacho Regular Biscuit with Hot Cheetos-breaded chicken breast, yellow nacho cheese and pickled jalapeños. It’s like eating concessions at a high school basketball game after maybe getting blazed — on a biscuit.
Philly Biscuit cheesesteak at The Biscuit Bar, $9.405880 State Highway 121, Plano
Biscuit lovers couldn’t be happier about this all-biscuit restaurant at Plano’s Boardwalk with another location due to open this spring in Highland Park. The Hoss — Biscuit Bar’s best-selling biscuit with fried chicken, bacon, jack cheese, sausage gravy and honey butter — has recently encountered competition with what was a limited-time only feature, the Philly Biscuit. It’s everything a cheesesteak should be, with thinly sliced rib eye, sautéed bell peppers and onions, melted jack cheese and a smear of Sriracha mayo. Why eat that on a stale hoagie when you can have it on a fluffy, buttery biscuit? It satisfies without glutting, and thankfully it’s now on the permanent menu at the Biscuit Bar, where their slogan “Everything is better on a biscuit!” is put to good use.
Spicy Chicken Biscuit at Rapscallion, $92023 Greenville Ave. (Lowest Greenville)
The only way to improve fried chicken on a biscuit is to make that spicy chicken on a biscuit. Rapscallion’s best-selling “Long Walk to Nashville” is chef Nathan Tate’s rendition of Nashville hot chicken that takes a detour through northwest China. Tate is known for adapting time-honored dishes into his own modern fare, and he continues this trend by brushing fried birds with an oil-based mala sauce containing Szechwan peppercorns and Chinese five-spice powder, a deviation from cayenne-laced lard paste, as the original Nashville version is made. The result is a more complex, numbing heat rather than something that feels like stinging punishment and revenge. Try Tate’s mala sauce on a boneless fried chicken thigh sandwiched between a pillow-soft biscuit for one of Rapscallion’s tastiest and most affordable brunch plates.
The Hill Country Biscuit Sandwich at Angel Chicken Kitchen, $6.997632 Campbell Road (Far North Dallas)
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A spread of healthy-looking mixed greens makes Angel Chicken Kitchen’s best-seller, the Hill Country Biscuit Sandwich, feel like a diet biscuit. On top of the Hill Country’s small salad sits a crunchy fried chicken breast drizzled in jalapeño jam and Texas goat cheese or feta. It’s an explosion of Napa-inspired flavor packed between an extra-large house-made yeast biscuit. With decades of working in food and beverage product development, owner Tim Soufan settled on a chicken restaurant for his first personal business endeavor after coming to the conclusion that “America loves chicken.” Chicken-lovers outside of Far North Dallas can’t wait for Angel Chicken to expand toward the city center, but until then, this chicken biscuit storefront merits a stop when up north.
Open-Faced Pot Roast Biscuit at Jack’s Kitchen, $11.956041 Oram St. (Old East Dallas)
Believe it or not, there’s a biscuit under Jack Scott Jones’ open-faced pot roast biscuit. You may remember Jones from the much-loved Cafe Italia, a Tex-Italian spot that ran on Lovers Lane for 25 years, or maybe you recall him from Jack’s Southern Comfort Food on Lower Greenville that shuttered after less than a year due to bad parking. Jones seems to have finally found the perfect neighborhood niche with ample parking in East Dallas on Oram and Skillman. Here, he continues Southern comfort food with biscuits, lots of them: blueberry biscuits, chocolate biscuits, fried cinnamon-sugar biscuits, biscuits with pimento cheese, and so on. One of our favorites was the pot roast biscuit — a buttermilk biscuit piled high with large chunks of tender chuck roast in a gravy scented with rosemary and red wine. It’s perfect after a January-inspired workout or for just hiding under a bulky flannel for one more month, maybe.