A recipe for Eastern North Carolina cheese biscuits

Wilson Daily TimesOctober 22, 2013 

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A cheese biscuit at Abrams BBQ in Tarboro. It is a biscuit/roll baked with a hunk of cheese in the center that oozes out. It is an indigenous Eastern North Carolina food and the owner, Gerald Abrams, says he started the trend at his restaurant.

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From time to time, I crave the cheese biscuits Mama used to make for us.

The perfectly browned cheese biscuits she made from scratch were a little bit fatter and more rounded than her usual biscuits, and they held a divine secret inside – a chunk of bright orange, melted Cheddar cheese. Sometimes that secret ran out onto the pan and made a golden puddle of cooked cheese. Some in the family gravitated toward the biscuits with the oozing cheese that hardened as it cooked. I always wanted the biscuit that held all of the cheese inside.

My sister and I loved Mama’s cheese biscuits and couldn’t wait for them to come out of the oven.

The first thing we did with our cheese biscuit was to lightly tap it on top to break the biscuit open. It was easier to eat that way, pulling off pieces of biscuit and cheese to eat. We had to be careful because the melted cheese is very hot.

Cheese biscuits start with a basic buttermilk biscuit recipe. Scoop up dough about the size of a small peach, and press it out a little bit in your hand. Then place a chunk of cheese in the middle and wrap the biscuit dough around it, making sure all the cheese is covered. Smooth the biscuit in a ball and place on the baking sheet.

I make a very easy version of cheese biscuits for breakfast quite often with Pillsbury’s flaky biscuits in the can. I place the cheese in the middle layer of the biscuit and seal the edges before baking. They are very good and very easy, but the scratch recipe is much better.

My family loves my homemade cheese biscuits. I made them again last week, after craving them enough to make a special trip to the grocery store to buy buttermilk.

We had a simple meal that night of rotisserie chicken with corn, butter beans and field peas. I knew the cheese biscuits would be so good with the meal, and they were. Seems like Mama made them when we had pork chops or on a night when we didn’t have a big meal. I’ve done that several times as well, figuring the cheese biscuits would be a nice addition to a small meal.

My granddaughter, Sora, was with us last week and watched me make the biscuits. She also agreed to try one. She’s not much on trying new foods, but she wanted her own biscuit, so I obliged.

Her Aunt Anna showed her how to pop the top of the biscuit, just as I taught her when she was a little girl, and helped Sora pull off a piece of biscuit with melted cheese. Once it had cooled, Sora popped it in her mouth and declared it was good. Yay! Another generation of cheese biscuit eaters.

Cheese Biscuits 2 cups self-rising flour 1/3 cup shortening 3/4 to 1 cup buttermilk Cheddar cheese cut in chunks about the size of a peach seed or a little bigger

PREHEAT oven to 425 degrees.

COMBINE flour and shortening with pastry blender or by other means. Add buttermilk, starting with 3/4 cup; mix with spoon or hands until dough forms in a ball. Knead a few times until smooth, adding more buttermilk or more flour if needed. Don’t overwork dough.

TAKE a piece of dough about the size of a small peach. Flatten a little bit in your hand and place a chunk of cheese in the middle. Bring dough up over cheese to cover. Roll dough into a smooth ball. (Again, don’t overwork.) Flatten a little bit on one end and place on cookie sheet prepared with baking spray. Repeat with remaining dough.

PLACE pan in oven on one of the higher racks. Bake at 425 degrees for 15 minutes or until browned. I usually turn on the broiler for about 30 seconds at the end of baking time for biscuits to brown, but watch carefully if you do this.

YIELD : 5 to 6 biscuits.

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