We’ve been on a huge breakfast-for-dinner kick this winter and while I’d like to tell you it has been triggered by earnest, respectable inclinations such as the fact that scrambled eggs, toast, and whatever vegetables or citrus salad we can scrounge up from the fridge for dinner is budget-minded, high in protein, fairly balanced and wholesome, the truth is that it’s been mostly about laziness. Once we figured out that our kid would now not only eat scrambled eggs but be excited to see them on the table [although, let’s be honest, doubly so if he can also talk us into freshly squeezing orange juice or a few slices of bacon], a whole world of unplanned dinners were opened up to us. We now can go all the way to 15 minutes before dinner to come up with a plan for it, which for me is meal-planning equivalent of the heavens opening up and glorifying all of my late-afternoon lethargy. I knew this day would eventually come!
It’s also led to all sorts of diversions, usually in the quickbread department. Last week, I unearthed a recipe for caramelized onion and gruyère biscuits — that’s right, the butter, buttermilk and baking soda equivalent of French onion soup — I’d bookmarked last year and couldn’t find a single reason not to make them once I realized that they’d be a pan of eggs and a small salad away from a completely respectable weeknight dinner. Nobody warns you about this, but sometimes the problem with ostensibly passing as an adult is that there’s nobody there to question you when you decide everyone can eat biscuits for dinner.
I regret nothing. These are as amazing as you’d expect from something with diced bits of cheese that trickle out during the baking time and occasionally land in crispy frico puddles on the baking sheet. The onions are dark, sweet, intense, and briefly soaked in buttermilk before winding themselves through the biscuits. And although these make excellent breakfast or breakfast-for-dinner companions, they’d also be wonderful alongside the kind of hearty winter meal — Dijon and Cognac Beef Stew or Mushroom Bourguignon, anyone? — this blizzard brewing outside will require, nay, demand.
One year ago: Homemade Dulce de Leche and Cheese Blintz
Two years ago: Intensely Chocolate Sables
Three years ago: Potato Chip Cookies
Four years ago: Roast Chicken with Dijon Sauce
Five years ago: Ricotta Muffins and Mixed Citrus Salad with Feta and Mint
Six years ago: Bittersweet Chocolate and Pear Cake and Chicken Milanese and an Escarole Salad (still a favorite meal, both parts)
Seven years ago: Leek and Swiss Chard Tart and Key Lime Cheesecake
Eight years ago: Pasta with Sausages, Tomatoes and Mushrooms and Sweet and Spicy Candied Pecans
And for the other side of the world:
Six Months Ago: Bourbon Slush Punch (mid-January Bourbon Snow Cone Punch, anyone?)
1.5 Years Ago: Mama Canales-Garcia’s Avocado and Shrimp Salsa
2.5 Years Ago: Zucchini Bread Pancakes
3.5 Years Ago: Corn, Buttermilk and Chive Popovers
I made a few small changes to the original recipe, which you can see above. I halved the sugar, skipped the honey altogether, prefer to caramelize onions my own way (I find a lid in the initial stage helps the final outcome) and do better with a 1-inch vs. 1.5-inch dough, but otherwise found these to be pretty much perfect the way they were originally made. I froze half and will let them thaw for a bit before baking them, the next time the urgency strikes.
Yield: 10 3-inch (big!) biscuits
9 tablespoons (127 grams) cold unsalted butter
1 tablespoon olive oil
2 small onions, halved and thinly sliced
2 3/4 cups (345 grams) all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon (15 grams) granulated sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon coarse or kosher salt
4 ounces (about 1 cup or 115 grams) gruyère or another Swiss-style cheese in 1/2-inch cubes
1 cup buttermilk (or make your own)
Flaky sea salt
Freshly ground black pepper
Heat oven to 350°F (175°C). Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone mat.
In a large skillet over medium heat, melt 1 tablespoon butter and add olive oil. Add the onions, reduce the heat to low and place a lid on top, letting them steam for about 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove the lid and continue to cook the onions, stirring occasionally, until they’re deep brown about 10 to 20 more minutes. If, for whatever reason, your onions need more time, up to 10 minutes more, don’t fret, they’ll only be more delicious for it. (Mine took a total of 22 minutes, but my stove at the lowest setting is closer to what I’d call medium, so things cook/brown too quickly.) Set aside to cool.
In a medium bowl or the workbowl of a food processor, combine flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt. Dice 8 tablespoons remaining cold butter into 1/2-inch bits. If proceeding by hand, use your fingertips or a pastry blender to work the butter into the flour mixture until the mixture is crumbly with butter in pieces no larger than a small pea. If proceeding in a food processor, add the butter and pulse the machine in short bursts until you get the same texture, then transfer the butter-flour mixture back to a medium bowl.
Stir in diced cheese. Pour buttermilk over cooled onions and stir to combine. Add buttermilk-onion mixture to bowl and stir until combined. It’s going to seem a little dry and will help to use your hands to knead it together a few times in the bowl; don’t worry if a couple floury spots remain. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter and roll out to a 1-inch thickness. Use a floured 3-inch cutter to stamp out circles and space them apart on prepared baking sheet. Gather the scrap and re-roll them as needed. Sprinkle biscuits with sea salt and pepper and bake until the scones are deep golden-brown and the cheese is melted and bubbly around the edges, 20 to 23 minutes.
Eat warm. They’re best on the first day, but if any survive it, they will taste better re-warmed on day two.