Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

I’ve always said: “Happiness is a warm, fluffy, buttermilk biscuit!”

Actually, that’s a lie – I’ve never said that before. But, I have felt that sentiment deep down in my heart for a very long time, and NOW I’m saying it… and I mean it! Seriously, a buttermilk biscuit is a beautiful, wonderful thing, especially when it’s fresh from the oven and slathered in butter. Part of the beauty of a buttermilk biscuit is that you can dress it up in millions of ways. Add cheese! Pop it on top of a chicken pot pie! Slice it in half and use it to sandwich a delicious piece of fried chicken!

(Stop drooling on your keyboard. It’s unsightly.)

ANYWAYS. When I was brainstorming some menu ideas for a wedding shower I was helping to throw, I knew I wanted to make a biscuit sandwich of some sort. A biscuit sandwich fulfills many of the requirements for food at a brunch: it’s dainty, it’s cute, it’s carb-y to soak up all the mimosas in your stomach. I wanted to add a couple other elements, too – something Italian (I met the bride while working in her dad’s Italian bakery nearly 20 years ago), something cheesy (please tell me I don’t need to explain the need for cheese?), and something to give it a real savory/spicy edge. Mission accomplished!

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)
makes about 16 petite sandwiches, with jam left over

For the jam:
1 pound strawberries, rinsed, hulled and quartered
1 cup brown sugar
2 T water
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar (white, if you have it)
a healthy pinch of kosher salt

For the biscuits:
3 cups all-purpose flour
3 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
generous 1/2 t kosher salt
3/4 t coarsely ground black pepper
8 T butter, super cold, and cut into cubes
2 oz gruyere cheese, grated (about 1/2 cup)
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk

For the sandwiches:
16 thin slices of prosciutto
arugula

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

1.) Start by getting your jam going on the stovetop. Add all the jam ingredients to a small sauce pan, stir well to combine, and set over medium heat. Let the mixture come up to a boil; turn the heat back just a bit (you don’t want it to be a hard boil, but you want more action than a simmer), and let the mixture cook down until it’s nice and thick. Keep an eye on it, and stir often, and it should take about 45 minutes.

2.) While the jam cooks, make your biscuit dough (and preheat your oven to 425°). In a large bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, kosher salt, and black pepper. Using a pastry blender (or two knives, or your hands), cut the butter into the flour mixture, until there are still some bits of butter the size of small peas. (More thorough biscuit-dough-making directions are here.)

3.) Add the grated cheese to your flour/butter mixture, and use a fork to toss it all together until the cheese is evenly distributed. Then, drizzle the buttermilk around the bowl, and use the fork to lightly mix everything, until a shaggy dough starts to form.

4.) Lightly flour your countertop, and dump the dough out on to it. Working quickly, press the dough together into a lump, and then shape it into a square that’s about 3/4″ thick. Remember, the goal is to handle the dough as little as possible, so it doesn’t get overworked and it stays COLD!

5.) Cut the dough into 16 neat squares. (You can also cut traditional round biscuits out of the dough – I just find the rolling of scraps to be cumbersome, and the constant handling of those extra pieces can result in a tough biscuit. So, I go with squares.) Place the biscuits on to a parchment-lined baking sheet, about 2″ apart. Bake for 12-15 minutes, until the biscuits have risen nicely, and are a light golden brown on top.

6.) While your biscuits bake, finish up your jam. Dependent on what kind of texture you want, you can do a few things: leave it as is (for a super-chunky jam); mash up the strawberries with a potato masher (for a finer, but still chunky, jam); or blend the jam with an immersion blender (or in a traditional blender, for a much smoother jam). Let the jam cool completely.

7.) When your biscuits are done baking, let them cool on the baking sheet for a few minutes, then move them to a cooling rack to cool completely.

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

8.) Time to assemble the sandwiches! Gently slices the biscuits in half, and then spread jam on both sides of the biscuit. Layer on a piece of prosciutto, a small bunch of arugula, and then the top half of the biscuit. Serve at room temperature.

These sandwiches really have a lot of flavor going on – but it all ends up working really nicely together. The biscuits are nice and savory from the gruyere, and a little spicy, from the pepper. The prosciutto is smoky and salty, and pepperiness of the arugula complements the biscuit, and the strawberry balsamic jam adds just enough sweetness to round it all out. They’re rich and delicious, but small enough not to be too filling and heavy.

A couple items of note:

1.) You’ll have lots of jam left over. Use it on EVERYTHING – your morning toast, a slice of toasted baguette slathered in goat cheese, drizzled into your yogurt, eaten directly off a spoon. It will last for several weeks in the fridge.

2.) If you’re making these sandwiches for a party, make the biscuits ahead and freeze them. Once the biscuits are cut, lay them out on a parchment-lined baking sheet, and pop the baking sheet into the freezer. After 3 or 4 hours, when the outsides are completely firm, toss them all into a ziploc freezer bag, and keep them frozen until you’re ready to use them. Bake from frozen, but allow about 25 minutes for them to bake. (This is also a good idea if you just want to keep biscuits on hand for quick breakfasts or snacks – you can bake as many or as few at a time as you like.)

Gruyere and Black Pepper Biscuit Sandwiches (with Strawberry Balsamic Jam)

If you’re still feeling apprehensive about attempting homemade biscuits, just DO IT. It takes a little practice and finesse, but once you’ve got the hang of it, you’ll be so glad you tried it. You can do it!

A world of buttery, flaky, deliciousness awaits you,
Tina

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Grilled Artichoke Subs

Do you have Penn Station subs where you live? We have a few near me – one by my office, and one by my house that’s pretty new. I’ve had their subs a few times over the years, and I usually just select some kind of turkey sub, as is my standard at a sub shop. Probably about a year ago, I realized they had a grilled artichoke sub – and I was immediately intrigued, as I love artichokes, and the only thing better than a plain artichoke is one that’s covered in cheese. Needless to say, it was love at first bite! And it only took me about 9 months to realize, DUH, I could make one of these at home! (Of course, there’s nothing wrong with getting one from the sub shop… but Penn Station also serves fresh-cut fries, and I think in Michigan it’s illegal to exit an establishment that sells fresh-cut fries without BUYING any fresh-cut fries, and I don’t want to go to jail, so I always end up with a bucket of fries in addition to my sub… and let’s just say that’s not doing anything positive for my waistline.)

Grilled Artichoke Subs

Please note: you could also leave the top of the bread off this sandwich, cut the cheesy artichoke bread into 2″ pieces, and serve it as an appetizer. Versatility!

Grilled Artichoke Subs
serves 2

2 demi baguettes (or one regular baguette)*
3 T mayo (low-fat is fine)
2 cloves of garlic, grated or minced
juice of half a lemon
2 cans quartered artichoke hearts (packed in water, not oil)
1 T olive oil
1/2 T butter
kosher salt
black pepper
pinch of red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
4 slices provolone cheese

Grilled Artichoke Subs

*In general, I prefer a baguette with a good, crisp crust. However, for these specific subs, I like to look for a baguette that’s slightly softer. Since we’re baking the subs, the exterior will have plenty of time to crisp up – and if you’re starting with a baguette that’s already pretty hard, the roof of your mouth will get destroyed as you try to enjoy your dinner. Just my 2 cents.

1.) Preheat your oven to 375°. Drain the canned artichokes well, and then lay the artichokes in a single layer on some paper towel to drain further; water gets trapped in between the leaves, so you want to make sure to get rid of as much of that moisture as possible to avoid having a soggy sub!

2.) Heat a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add the olive oil and butter to the pan, and once it’s hot, add the artichokes. Season the artichokes with a pinch each of salt and pepper, the red pepper flakes, and the dried oregano. Stir until everything is well-combined, and then leave the artichoke mixture alone for a couple minutes, so they will start to crisp and brown a bit on the bottom.

3.) Once the artichokes have started to brown nicely, add the grated parmesan, and stir well. Let the artichokes cook another minute or so, and the parmesan will start to brown and crisp a bit, too.

4.) While the artichokes crisp up, make your mayo. In a small bowl, mix together the mayo, lemon juice, and grated garlic. If you don’t love the taste of raw garlic, you can cut this back to one clove, or use a dash of garlic powder instead. Set the mayo aside.

5.) Slice your baguettes in half, leaving the “hinge” intact on the back side of the bread. I like to scoop out some of the bread from the interior of the baguette to make adequate room for artichokes (and as a bonus: the interior of the bread is excellent in a kale panzanella salad).

6.) Spread the bottom of each baguette with the garlic mayo, and top with half of the artichokes. Lay the provolone slices over the top of the artichokes, and bake the subs for 10-15 minutes, until the edges of the bread are golden brown, and the cheese is nicely melted and browned. Serve immediately.

Grilled Artichoke Subs

I mean… seriously. These subs are so cheesy, and gooey, and delicious! And despite being meatless, they still feel and taste hearty and filling, because the artichokes are pretty meaty (as vegetables go). Crisping up the parmesan in the pan adds just a bit of nutty flavor, and the lemon in the mayo lends a little acid to cut through the richness of the cheese. In recent months, we’ve had these subs for dinner at least once every 10 days or so – paired with a salad, or some roasted chickpeas, or some variety of roasted vegetable. Fast, easy, and satisfying.

My household is basically keeping the artichoke industry in business,
Tina

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

I have recently discovered a new favorite show on the Food Network: Heartland Table. There have only been a handful of episodes thus far (maybe 6 or 7 total) but every time I see an episode, I want to make EVERYTHING, immediately. I basically watch the episode, drool a lot, and then run to the Food Network website to pin every single recipe. Makes for a nice little Saturday morning.

This is the first recipe I ever made from that show, and I’ve made it a couple times since. It requires a bit of time standing over the stove, but it’s pretty simple… and the smell of that thyme- and garlic-rubbed pork roasting is so intoxicatingly fantastic, you’ll dream about it at night.

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches
adapted from here
enough for 8 sandwiches, with pork left over

For the pork:
one 3-pound pork loin, fat cap left on
1 tsp kosher salt
1/4 cup very coarsely ground pepper
canola oil, for searing

For the basting sauce:
5 T butter
3 T apple cider vinegar
2 T chopped fresh thyme
6 cloves garlic, grated
remaining pepper from the pork crust

For the sandwich spread:
1/2 cup mayo
pinch of kosher salt
pinch of black pepper
zest and juice of half a lemon
one large garlic clove, grated

For the sandwiches:
8 pitas (or wrap of choice), lightly toasted/warmed
sandwich spread (above)
thinly sliced pork
arugula
1/2 cup large parmesan shavings

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

1.) Remove the pork from the fridge about half an hour before you’re going to cook it, to let it warm up a bit. Heat a large, oven-proof skillet over medium-high heat, and add a couple tablespoons of canola oil to the pan (while you’re at it, preheat your oven to 375°). While the pan heats, pat the pork loin dry; sprinkle it with the teaspoon of kosher salt, then cover it in the black pepper, using your hands to firmly press it on to the pork to be sure it sticks. Reserve any unused pepper for the basting sauce.

Pork Loin with Pepper, Garlic, and Thyme Crust

2.) Once the pan is hot, sear the pork on all sides, including the ends. While the pork is searing, heat a small sauce pan over medium heat, and add the butter to it. Once the butter bubbles up, add the apple cider vinegar, garlic, chopped thyme, and remaining black pepper. Remove the mixture from the heat.

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

3.) When the pork has been seared and the basting sauce is ready, use a brush to baste the pork with the sauce, and then place the entire pan in the oven. Roast the pork for about 50 minutes, removing it from the oven every 10 minutes to flip it and baste it. Try not to pass out from the heavenly smell emanating from the oven.

4.) While the pork roasts, make your sandwich spread. Mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl; cover and refrigerate until you’re ready to use it.

5.) Remove the pork from the oven, and let it rest for about 15 minutes. If you’re planning to only use the pork cold, set it aside and allow it to cool for about an hour, then wrap it tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate it until it’s thoroughly chilled. You’ll want to thinly slice the pork as you need it; keeping the loin whole will prevent the pork from drying out.

Pork Loin with Pepper, Garlic, and Thyme Crust

6.) To assemble the sandwiches: spread the warmed/toasted pitas with the mayo sauce. Layer on arugula, parmesan shavings, and very thinly sliced pork. Wrap, and enjoy!

I’m really not kidding you – the smell of this pork cooking is one of the best things you’ll ever experience in your life. And not only does it smell like heaven, but it imparts a TON of flavor into the pork (which I suppose is kind of the point). The pepper-y, garlick-y crust has a great hit of spice – next time, I think I’d try this pork on a salad filled with parmesan, some pine nuts, and a lemon vinaigrette.

Peppered Pork and Parmesan Flatbread Sandwiches

You could also make this pork into a great little appetizer! Cut some grilled pitas into wedges, spread with the lemon mayo, add a couple leaves of arugula, a piece of pork, and some parmesan – then spear the whole thing with a toothpick. Best of all, it can be served at room temperature, so it can be made and assembled ahead of time.

You know that if I’m recommending cooking a giant piece of meat, it must be pretty fabulous,
Tina

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

Sometimes, you just need to fry something. And in the case of this particular week? That something was chicken. Not your traditional bone-in, skin-on chicken – but a well-breaded chicken cutlet, just the right size to plop into the middle of a honey-ed, hot-sauced-ed, delightfully buttery biscuit. Don’t get me wrong, the whole thing was a little involved for a Tuesday night… but despite having a lot of steps and about a million dirtied bowls and utensils, making these fried chicken biscuits doesn’t take ALL that long – and regardless, they’re totally worth it!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce
makes 8 sandwiches

For the chicken:
8 chicken cutlets*
2 c buttermilk, divided
1 T hot sauce (I prefer Frank’s Red Hot)
1.5 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp black pepper, divided
0.75 tsp cayenne pepper, divided
1 clove of garlic, smashed
1 tsp garlic powder
1 tsp onion powder
1.5 cups all-purpose flour
vegetable or peanut oil, for frying

For the biscuits:
2.5 cups all-purpose flour
1.5 tsp baking powder
0.25 tsp baking soda
0.5 tsp sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
12 T cold butter, cut into cubes
1 cup cold, well-shaken buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten well

For the sandwiches:
butter
hot sauce
honey

*you want the chicken to be about 2 pounds total. I like to buy the “thin sliced” chicken breast at Trader Joe’s, but you can also take regular chicken breasts and butterfly them (some of those things are monsters, and you’d be able to get 3 thin pieces out of each breast). I have another dish planned for later in the week that requires chopped up chicken breast, so I also trimmed a couple inches off the end of each piece of chicken, so they’d be ever so slightly more biscuit-sized, rather than having 4″ of chicken hanging off the side. Proceed as you see fit.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

1.) In a large ziploc bag, combine one cup of buttermilk, one tablespoon of hot sauce, half a teaspoon each of kosher salt and pepper, one quarter teaspoon of cayenne pepper, and the crushed garlic. Add the chicken, squeeze the excess air from the bag, seal it, and move everything around until the chicken is coated well. At this point, you can let the chicken marinate in the fridge for a couple hours (up to 8); or, if you’re short on time, just leave the chicken in the marinade while you prep and bake the biscuits.

2.) While the chicken marinates, let’s make some biscuits. Preheat your oven to 400°. In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, sugar, and salt. Use a pastry blender (or two knives) to cut the cold butter into the flour mixture, until the mixture looks like coarse meal, with some pea-sized bits of butter. Pour the buttermilk over the flour and butter mixture, and use a fork to gently mix everything together until everything is just moistened. (If you require more detailed instructions on making biscuits, see this post.)

3.) Lightly flour your countertop, and pile the dough together. Use your hands to VERY briefly knead the biscuit dough until it forms a somewhat cohesive lump, then pat it out into a circle about 3/4″ tall. (Keep in mind: with biscuits you want to handle the dough as LITTLE as possible, so it stays cold, and gluten doesn’t have a chance to form – so, work quickly, and with light hands!)

Buttermilk Biscuits

4.) Use a 2.5″ biscuit cutter to cut rounds from the dough. Re-roll scraps once, and cut more biscuits. Place the biscuits on a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet, brush the tops with the beaten egg, and bake for about 20 minutes, until they’re golden brown.

5.) While the biscuits bake, you can work on your chicken! Place a large skillet (preferably cast-iron, 10-12″) over heat set at slightly above medium. Fill the skillet with oil to about 1/2″ depth; it will take about 10-15 minutes to come up to temp for frying.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

6.) Set up your breading station for the chicken. Set out two shallow bowls; in one, pour one cup of buttermilk, and in the other, whisk together a cup and a half of flour, one teaspoon each of kosher salt, garlic powder, and onion powder, and half a teaspoon each of black pepper and cayenne pepper.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

7.) Remove the chicken from the marinade, and let any excess buttermilk drip off. Immediately dredge each piece in the seasoned flour, being sure to coat them well. Then, dip each piece back into the buttermilk, and then back into the flour, for a second coating. This double coating of buttermilk and seasoned flour is what helps give the chicken a nice, crispy coating, without any skin!

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

8.) When all your chicken is breaded and ready to fry, your oil should be ready. You can use a candy thermometer to check the temperature – it should be about 360°. If you don’t have a candy thermometer, throw some panko bread crumbs or a small piece of bread into the oil – it should bubble pretty vigorously around the bread, and take a minute or so to turn golden brown.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

9.) Add the chicken, a couple pieces at a time, to the pan (being sure to lay them into the oil so that the last end to go in faces away from you, in case of splattering). Be sure not to overcrowd the pan; I like to fry 2-3 pieces at a time. Fry for 3-4 minutes per side, until they’re golden brown. Once they’re done cooking, remove them to a baking sheet lined with foil, paper-towel, and a baking rack; this will allow them to drain any excess oil (and can be thrown into a 200° oven to keep warm while you finish frying, if needed).

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

10.) When your biscuits are baked and your chicken is fried, it’s time for sandwich assembly. Split each biscuit in half, and spread both sides with butter and hot sauce (as much or as little as you like). Add a piece of chicken to each biscuit, drizzle it with honey, then add the top of the biscuit. Serve immediately.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

I mean… what really needs to be said here? Do I really need to convince you that a buttery, flaky biscuit topped with hot, crispy chicken, and dripping with honey and hot sauce, will be amazingly delicious? If you need convincing, then I am not sure we should be friends, quite frankly.

Buttermilk Fried Chicken Biscuits with Honey and Hot Sauce

Yeah, these sandwiches are awesome. Really, really awesome. The buttermilk marinade keeps the chicken super moist, and the double-dip in very well seasoned flour gives the coating a great amount of flavor and spice. Add in the acidic edge of hot sauce, the subtle sweetness of the honey, the buttery richness of the biscuit… what I’m saying is, it’s a damn good thing I hate to fry stuff, or I’d be making these daily, and then I’d need much, much larger pants. It would probably be worth it.

When I find a foolproof method to remove the fried smell from your house, I’ll let you know,
Tina