Thursday, July 30, 2009

Bacon cheddar chive scones

Are savory scones unusual? I don't recall ever encountering such a thing before but now that I've done a search, I see lots of different recipes for cheese scones. There are even a handful of distinct recipes for bacon cheddar scones, most with either scallions or chives. The particular one I made originally called for scallions, but the chives in my herb garden have been growing well so I wanted to use them. This recipe is from the Atlantic's new food section of their website. They've had some pretty interesting recipes there recently and I find Grant Achatz's column about introducing experimental new dishes at his restaurant quite fascinating. It's worth taking a look.

But getting back to the recipe, this is the first time I've ever made scones. From all the awful scones I've had, I had always assumed they were very difficult to make, but these came out beautifully first try.

Bacon Cheddar Scones
Makes 12 small scones

8 ounces sliced high quality peppery smoked bacon [If your bacon isn't peppered, add some pepper]
2½ cups all-purpose flour
4 teaspoons baking powder
½ teaspoon fine sea salt [I have no fine salt in the house so I ground up coarse sea salt in a mortar)
¾ cup high quality [European-style or organic] unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, cold
2 large eggs, beaten, cold
½ cup plus 2 tablespoons heavy cream, cold
4 ounces cheddar, aged at least one year, crumbled and cold
3 scallions, chopped

1. Fry the bacon over medium heat until crisp. Drain, chop, and place in refrigerator to cool.

2. Preheat oven to 375°F.

3. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt into a large mixing bowl. Cut in the butter with a knife or pastry cutter until the mixture forms ½-inch pieces. [I just used my fingers and the texture I got at the end was more sandy than anything I'd call "pieces". Could someone who understands baking better than I do please explain the significance of the difference?]

4. Add the eggs, ½ cup of the cream, and cheddar. Mix by hand [well, by whisk held in your hand] until just combined. Fold in the scallions [or chives] and cooled bacon. [This I did with my hands.]

5. Transfer the dough to a well-floured board. Form two 7-inch rounds. Cut each into 6 wedges.

6. Transfer the wedges to a baking sheet lined with parchment. Brush with the remaining cream and bake for 20 to 25 minutes, [I went all the way to 30 minutes, but baking in my oven often goes long.] until the scones are golden brown on the top and bottom (you'll have to lift them off the baking sheet a bit to check underneath).

7. Allow to cool and firm up for about 10 minutes before removing from sheet. Serve the same day [or, I'm hoping, freezing is OK. I haven't defrosted any to check how they're holding up yet.]

The author, Ari Weinzweig, suggests serving these with butter or bacon fat or mayonaise with tomato and arugula. I liked Chef Allan's Mango Tears chutney as an accompaniment.

These are crisp on the outside, soft and not-quite-crumbly not-quite-flaky on the inside. They're smokey, savory and sharp with a subtle herbal note keeping the richness from overwhelming. The best bits were where a piece of cheese was exposed and melted and browned over the surface. If you make these, sprinkle a little finely shredded cheese over top. Really quite lovely and a fine thing to have around as a snack. I think I'll try a sweet scone next as those would be pretty nice to have around as well.


kat said...

These sound fantastic to me. Are they much heavier than a biscuit would be?

billjac said...

Scones, on average, are heavier than your average biscuit, but these turned out quite light as scones go. So that's about mid-range as biscuits go? I'm no expert on either so I don't know if I can give you an answer that makes much sense. Sorry.

City Girl said...

I am much more of a savory baked-good in the morning type person which is probably why I've never cared to try making scones. I'm used to seeing berry/sweet varieties. These however sound right up my alley! I'll have to give them a try!

Russell Hews Everett said...

I'm thinking this will be a killer use for some of the bacon I've got lying around...and hey, Cheddar in the fridge, Chives in the yard. Sweet.

billjac said...

I'm pleased to be of service.

LaDivaCucina said...