|The hot fire built of "biscuit wood" in the Margin Gem wood|
While the shortening is melting, sift two cups of flour into a mixing bowl and add around a tablespoon of baking powder to it. At this point you might sprinkle a little salt in too if you wish. Mix all the dry ingredients together.
Once the shortening has melted, pour it into a heat-proof measuring cup. Then add enough cold milk or buttermilk to make one cup altogether while stirring constantly. The coldness of the liquid causes the shortening to congeal again, thus allowing it to be evenly incorporated into your flour. Brilliant! (I hate washing the pastry blender.)
Pour the buttermilk/shortening mixture over the flour mixture and toss lightly to mix. Don't work the dough too hard as that will make for tough biscuits later!
Turn the dough out onto a floured board.
Knead the dough a few times, then pat out until it is about an inch thick.
Cut the biscuits in the shape and size you desire. For many years I cut biscuits with an old metal drinking glass that Gramps kept by the utility room sink when our house was still his home. The problem was that cutting the biscuits resulted in compressing the air in the glass, and sometimes it would "burp," causing the biscuit to become misshapen. Last year, one of the fundraisers at school had a set of biscuit cutters on it, and I'm very pleased with my four various sized biscuit cutters.
|Six beautifully cut biscuits and one not so beautiful because|
it is the trimmings patted together.
Let the biscuits rest for at least five minutes. The baking powder will cause them to rise a little, and they will be nice and light.
The next step is to put together the creamed chicken. Here is where this recipe really qualifies as what I would call "cheating." To whatever leftover gravy you have from the roast chicken dinner, add a can of cream of chicken soup. Add whatever leftover chicken you have to the gravy/soup mixture.
Pop the biscuits into the hot oven now.
Put the chicken/gravy/soup mixture on the stove to come to a boil. You probably won't want to put this right over the firebox since your fire will be so hot for baking the biscuits. You can see in the picture below that mine was closer to the reservoir than to the fire.
If the gravy was quite thick, you may need to add a little water or milk. Don't do this until you've had a chance to warm the gravy/soup mixture, though, because leftover gravy congeals in the refrigerator and may look deceptively thick until it is heated through.
|The soup/gravy/chicken combination coming to a boil over|
|The biscuits finishing up in the oven while the|
creamed chicken is staying warm on a simmering
pad on the back of the range.
|The finished product.|