By Stephanie Burt
Photos courtesy of Alabama Chanin
“Food is really an important part of our philosophy,” said Natalie Chanin, speaking about her lifestyle company powerhouse, Alabama Chanin. “We’ve been really influenced by people like author Joel Salatin. The idea of one part of the farm becoming fuel for another part of the farm really speaks to how we build our company, thinking about something sustaining itself.”
So the idea of adding a café seemed natural, and since opening in November 2013, The Factory (store and café’) has been embraced by the community, who frequent it as much for the crustless quiche as they do the guest chef dinners, with a star-studded calendar that has included Chefs Ashley Christensen and Vivian Howard and has Chef Drew Robinson visiting in October.
Bringing award-winning chefs to the northwest Alabama provides not only a wonderful opportunity for diners, but for the café kitchen team, an opportunity not afforded by many culinary schools—the hands-on chance to explore recipes of these chefs with the chefs themselves part of the equation.
“These are chefs, people, I personally adore, admire, and respect, and I love to eat their food,” she says. “It just so wonderful to get them here.”
Although she’s quick to deflect credit to others, Natalie is an accomplished cook herself, and she makes a mean biscuit. You can often snag one at the café, but she was kind enough to share her recipe with me. Bake them up and butter them well.
from Natalie Chanin, Alabama Chanin Café, Florence, AL
2 cups all-purpose flour, plus 1 cup for rolling out dough
2 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1 stick plus 2 tablespoons unsalted butter (1 stick cut into cubes and chilled, 2 tablespoons melted)
¾ cup buttermilk
- Preheat the oven to 425°.
- In a large bowl, combine the 2 cups of flour with the baking powder and salt and mix thoroughly (or sift together).
- Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut in cubed butter until mixture resembles coarse meal.
- Add buttermilk and stir with a fork or wooden spoon until a soft dough forms. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured work surface and knead 2 or 3 times, just until it comes together.
- Using a lightly floured rolling pin, roll out dough ¼-inch thick fold in half and roll out to ¼-inch thick again to laminate (or flatten) butter into layers. Repeat several times and finish by rolling out dough out to ½-inch thick. Using a lightly floured 2 ¼-inch round cutter, stamp out biscuits as close together as possible. Pat the dough scraps together and stamp out more biscuits. Transfer the biscuits to a large baking sheet lined with parchment paper. Bake at 425 degrees for about 10 minutes, until the biscuits have risen and golden brown.
- Remove from oven and turn it off, brush with melted butter then return t let sit in cooling oven for several minutes.
Yield: 1 dozen