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    Tuesday, July 16, 2024

    Red Lobster copycat cheddar biscuits are a homemade delight

    Red Lobster is a seafood restaurant. It’s right there in the name. (And yet it’s not named after the crustacean of the late, famous “endless shrimp” deal.) But as the chain files for bankruptcy and closes dozens of locations, the most-mourned item on the menu might not come from the ocean at all: the Cheddar Bay Biscuits, which, while we’re picking apart names, have nothing to do with bay leaves, Old Bay or any body of water, as far as I can surmise.

    Anyone looking for their biscuit fix without stepping foot in a restaurant has long had access to the store-bought mix, widely available at grocery stores. The mix requires about the same level of effort as Bisquick: You add water and shredded cheddar cheese to form the biscuits, then mix the seasoning packet with melted butter to create the garlicky topping brushed on after baking.

    Is the boxed mix good enough? Yes. Could I replicate it at home? Probably. Was it worth it? Absolutely. After all, the from-scratch biscuits won’t have the added preservatives and/or stabilizers of shelf-stable mixes. And there’s a pretty good chance you have all the pantry staples needed for the biscuits at home, save maybe the cheese, but if you’re anything like my family, there’s often a block of cheddar waiting in the wings.

    Even developing the copycat was fairly straightforward as these things go. (It doesn’t hurt that while I’m known for my annual holiday cookie extravaganzas, I’ve gotten a reputation for my repeated biscuit work as well.) It was pretty clear the recipe could be a simple stir-and-drop cream biscuit, so I decided to use two of our archive recipes, Alex Guarnaschelli’s Cheddar Biscuits With Bacon, Spinach and Eggs and a Cook’s Illustrated Drop Cream Biscuit from Andrea Geary, as a jumping-off point. By tweaking the ratios of the former to align with those of the latter, which also boasted a soft dough enhanced by warm cream, I was able to achieve the tall, rounded and tender biscuits I sought.

    After that, it was on to the topping. I scanned the nutrition information on the side of the biscuit mix, which helpfully listed the topping ingredients separately. While there were other extraneous things in there, it was clear that garlic powder, onion powder, salt and dried parsley were all I really needed.

    I stirred them together with melted butter and lacquered the hot biscuits with the flavorful blend as they sat on the sheet pan. I gave the biscuits just long enough to not scorch my hands and then sank my teeth into one. Pillowy, garlicky, salty bliss. Plus, they were on the table in just 30 minutes — no restaurant (or drive to a restaurant) required.

    - - -

    Red Lobster-Style Cheddar Biscuits

    Active time: 20 minutes. Total time: 30 minutes

    Servings: 12 (makes 12 biscuits)

    If you’re a fan of the cheddar biscuits at Red Lobster, you’re going to love this from-scratch version made with a simple cream dough and brushed with garlicky melted butter. The recipe may be especially welcome in light of the chain’s bankruptcy declaration and closure of many locations. Yes, you could buy the boxed mix, but when it’s this easy, there’s no need to bother.

    Storage note: The biscuits are best freshly baked but can be stored in an airtight container at room temperature for up to 2 days, or frozen for up to 2 months. Reheat in a 350-degree oven until warmed through.

    INGREDIENTS

    3 cups (375 grams) all-purpose flour

    1-1/2 tablespoons baking powder

    2 teaspoons granulated sugar

    1 teaspoon fine salt, divided

    1 cup (4 ounces/113 grams) grated sharp cheddar cheese

    1-3/4 cups (420 milliliters) heavy cream

    Nonstick cooking spray

    6 tablespoons (85 grams) unsalted butter, melted

    1 teaspoon garlic powder

    1/2 teaspoon onion powder

    1/2 teaspoon dried parsley flakes

    DIRECTIONS

    Position a rack in the middle of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees. Line a large sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicone baking mat.

    In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of the salt. (Sifting not only ensures that the dry ingredients will be lump-free, it also mixes them together.) Gently stir in the cheese to avoid breaking up the shreds too much.

    In a microwave-safe container, microwave the cream on HIGH for 60 to 90 seconds, until just warmed to body temperature (95 to 100 degrees), stirring halfway through. Stir the warm cream into the flour mixture to form a soft, uniform dough. Do not overmix.

    Grease a No. 16 disher or 1/4-cup dry measuring cup with nonstick cooking spray. (Alternatively, lightly grease it with oil.) Use it to drop 12 level scoops of batter about 2 inches apart on the sheet pan. Re-grease the measuring cup after every 3 or 4 scoops. If the portions are misshapen, use your fingertips to gently reshape into smooth domes. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, or until the biscuits are light golden brown.

    While the biscuits bake, in a small bowl, stir together the melted butter, garlic and onion powders, dried parsley, and the remaining 1/2 teaspoon of salt until well combined. When the biscuits are done, remove from the oven and immediately brush with the butter mixture. Let cool briefly, then serve warm.

    Substitutions:

    Instead of garlic powder, use onion powder. Or vice versa.

    Instead of cheddar cheese, you can use fontina, Monterey Jack, or Gruyère.

    Nutritional Facts per biscuit | Calories: 326; Fat: 22 g; Saturated Fat: 13 g; Carbohydrates: 27 g; Sodium: 442 mg; Cholesterol: 64 mg; Protein: 6 g; Fiber: 1 g; Sugar: 2 g

    This analysis is an estimate based on available ingredients and this preparation. It should not substitute for a dietitian’s or nutritionist’s advice.

    Adapted by recipes editor Becky Krystal from “Cook With Me: 150 Recipes for the Home Cook” by Alex Guarnaschelli (Clarkson Potter, 2020) and a 2019 recipe from Cook’s Illustrated.

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