Homemade Ham Biscuits and Cheesy Rice Middlins also know as Rice Grits. Practically perfect fare for any breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. And, an excellent choice for the holidays and on into the new year as well!
Today we’re keeping it North Carolina local with three from-scratch printed recipes featuring three local North Carolina brands. All of them a delicious compliment one to the other.
And, because its always important to know where your food comes from; here is a little introduction to each local NC company.
Meet Tidewater Grain Company from Oriental NC
The youngest company in this post is just a couple of years old. I first met the team at Tidewater Grain Co. in 2019. It was at the annual GotToBeNC Flavors show, a trade show for products grown, made or produced in North Carolina. I am pleased to say I have written about a good many of the brands that are annually represented; and now Tidewater Grain Company falls into that category as well. This heritage breed, North Carolina, Carolina Gold Rice is definitely a product you are going to want to have in your pantry.
In the photo above, I’m in the rice fields at Tidewater Grain Co. with co-owners Al Spruill on my left and Tommy Wheeler on my right. The team at Tidewater Grain Co is, like many farmers I write about, are good stewards of the land. And with time, they continue to purchase coastal farm land on which to grow this heirloom rice. Together, they are creating a company, and recreating an historic slice of North Carolina agriculture, that they can pass on to their children and grandchildren, this team is doing things right!
I am always excited to share the story of this company and ways to cook with their products. This is a GMO free, heirloom grain. Tidewater’s Carolina Gold Rice is available in white or brown and in middlins – or rice grits ( featured below). You can also by Tidewater’s Santee Gold Long Grain in white and brown varieties. And, for those of you trying to bake and cook gluten free, they also produce a delicious rice flour.
Try it and you’ll see it tastes like rice is supposed to taste. That’s the beauty of this extraordinary grain. Depending how you cook it, the results run from a light fluffy rice, to a dense sticky rice or a finish that is smooth and creamy. Smooth, creamy and delicious is what you’ll get with my cheesy rice middlins recipe here.
Buy Tidewater Grain Company Carolina Gold Rice Online for Home Delivery
The 2020 harvest of Carolina Gold white and brown rice and middlins is creating quite a stir. Tidewater’s North Carolina Carolina Gold Rice is available in lots of small farm stores and markets across the state. You’ll also find it in the inventory of larger wholesalers, partnering with the Tidewater team to insure easy distribution throughout the Southeast.
If the trio of Tidewater rices is not yet available in a retail market in your area yet; then go visit the shop on the Tidewater website and stock up there. It’s open 24/7/365 and an order of $20 or more enjoys free shipping!
Follow Tidewater on instagram at @TidewaterGrainCo and on Facebook at @Tidewater Grain Co.
Bringing the Salt & Sugar Cured Country Ham to a biscuit near you!
It was my pleasure to meet Phillip Craven of Phillips Brothers Country Ham on a trip to the Heart of North Carolina several years ago. I was in the Randolph County area exploring all there is to do (and eat!) in and around Asheboro, NC. As you can see from the wreath in the photo, this was just before Thanksgiving 2020. At a time when Phillip and the Phillips Brothers team were working hard to get ready for the holiday season.
Phillip is the steward of his family business, one that has been serving North Carolina country ham loving communities since 1947.
Aside from all they do, there is a lot to share about the way that Phillip and the team at Phillips Brothers cure country ham. For now, its enough to now that it is salt and sugar cured.
I know that’s important because my friend James Walker, a country ham lover from way back, told me so – and indeed, it’s delicious.
The perfect foil for these light and flaking homemade biscuits with a side of creamy cheesy rice grits.
You can order Phillips Brothers Country Hams whole or cut in a variety of shapes and sizes from their website here. And, be sure to follow them on Facebook at Phillips Brothers Country Hams, Inc. for day to day details about the Asheboro brick and mortar.
What’s a Ham biscuit without a creamy, cheesy side dish?
Big ole shout out here to my friends Portia and Flo and the team at Chapel Hill Creamery in Chapel Hill, NC. This is cheese from happy cows and one of my go to local NC cheeses. I’ve written about the cheeses at Chapel Hill Creamery several times – you can read more here and here.
Watch the Video Recipe
First up, the cooking video, so you can see the process – step by step. The video is just under 30 minutes, so grab a cup of coffee or tea; or a glass of wine or bourbon; get comfy and enjoy. Watch and learn by clicking on this mini “At Home with Heidi” cooking class. ( originally filmed early in 2020, but still a good one.)
Then, you can refer to the printed details that follow for all the specifics.
Let’s start with the recipe for Carolina Gold Rice middlins, ham biscuits to come
Cheesy Tidewater Grain Company Carolina Gold Rice Grits
3 cups water
3/4 to 1 cup whole local or organic milk ( My go-to in the Charlotte NC market is Hickory Hill Milk from Edigefield, SC )
1 round of Chapel Hill Creamery Carolina Moon soft rind Brie-style cheese
salt and butter to taste
Bring the water to a boil and salt with a teaspoon or so of salt. Add the Tidewater Grain Company Middlins to the salted water. Stir and reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to simmer uncovered for 12-15 mins. at which time most but probably not all of the water will be absorbed into the rice grits.
Add the milk to the pan of middlins and stir to blend, Bring the pan back to a medium heat.
Slowly add the cheese. Its easiest to cut the round into small squares and add them to the rice grits about a quarter of the round at a time. Stir well with each addition to allow the cheese to melt into the creamy mix.
Keep stirring until the cheesy middlins mix begins to get thicker. Season to taste with salt, pepper and butter if you would like it even creamier.
Serve topped with microgreens for a bit of a fresh crunch and have a delicious fresh baked country ham biscuit on the side!
Start your ham biscuits with some great NC Country Ham
You can absolutely fry up a batch of Phillips Brothers Country Ham for your biscuits, but I honestly think its so much better to bake the ham. A metal cake cooling rack and a sheet pan with sides, makes short order of this part of the process.
Select your favorite cut of Phillips Brothers Country Ham and separate into biscuit sized pieces. Place the ham slices on a cake cooling rack fitted inside a baking sheet. If you don’t have a cake cooling rack that will fit, simply cover the pan with foil or a sheet of parchement paper.
Bake the ham in a preheated 375 degree oven for about 15 mins. Serve hot or cold on your fresh baked biscuits.
Glazed Ham for your Biscuits?
If you’d like to sauce your ham with a glaze or a bit of your favorite BBQ sauce, you can. Just use your favorite local brand or make your own. Or, make a tasty glaze out of any of your favorite jams or jellies. Or instead, use the incredible local honey you’ll find at Phillips Brothers.
When you are ordering the county ham from Phillip Brothers Country Hams, be sure to include a jar or two of Phillip’s Buck-n-Bees Apiary honey, on your order. This is wildflower honey from Randolph County and it is absolutely delicious! The bees live right behind the shop – hard to get more local than that! This local Asheboro honey is terrific!#TellThemHeidiSentYou
To make a glaze, just melt the jam or jelly in the microwave; or set the jar in a small pan of hot water and stir until its melted. If you are using honey as your glaze – just use it right out of the jar. Brush the ham with the glaze or honey, as soonas it comes out of the oven. Or brush it on during the last couple of minutes of baking. If a jam or the honey bakes for too long, it will burn.
If you want to try a BBQ ham biscuit, brush your favorite bbq sauce lightly on the sliced ham just before your put the ham in the oven.
Any way you fix it, I think you’ll agree this is delicious North Carolina country ham.
“Here’s the How To” for Foolproof Biscuits
Real Deal Buttermilk Biscuits
Start with a stick ( that’s 8 Tbsp.) of cold butter
2 1/2 cups self rising flour
1 cup whole milk buttermilk
Buying local is always important to me. In Charlotte, my go-to are Hickory Hills Milk from Edgefield SC or Ran Lew Dairy from Snow Camp, NC. I like to buy buttermilk produced by a local dairy so you are assured of getting the real deal. Read more here to find out why using real buttermilk really is a big deal, in an interview I did in 2017 with Hickory Hill Milk’s Watson Dorn.
Ingredients Gathered, Let’s Bake Biscuits
Begin by grating the cold butter on a box grater. Grate over a sheet of parchment paper. Carefully, fold the parchment paper up and around the grated butter. Place the grated butter in the freezer until you are ready to add it to the bowl. Starting your bis
Whisk the flour in the bowl to get rid of any clumps. Then add in the frozen butter. Use a whisk or wooden spoon to gently distribute the butter evenly in the flour. As you stir, make a small well – or a hole of sorts – in the center of the bowl of flour. Pour the cold buttermilk directly in the center of the bowl, all at one time. Stir the buttermilk into the flour and butter in smooth strong strokes. Take care not to over mix.
Test kitchen chefs at Southern Living Magazine suggest this takes about 15 strokes. I’m going to say 15-20.
Turn the dough out onto a parchment lined cutting board. Quickly but carefully gather the dough into a ball and gently pat the mix into a rectangle. To throughly distribute the butter in layers in your biscuits, we’ll use a technique similar to what you do when you make puff pastry.
Pat, Fold and Turn for Light and Flaky Biscuits
Take care not to knead the biscuit dough. Simply and gently pat the dough out and then fold it in half. Give the dough a quarter of a turn; and pat it out once again. Repeat this folding, turning and patting process 3-4 times, but take care not to pat the dough down too hard. If at any time, you feel the dough getting warm, just pop it in the fridge or freezer for a minutes or two. I can guarantee it will be worth the extra wait time.
Finally, use a rolling pin to roll the dough into a 1 inch thick slab. Use a biscuit cutter of any shape to cut your biscuits. Take care to cut straight down into the dough. And, don’t twist the cutter. Just cut straight down and then lift the cutter right back up.
Place the cut biscuit dough onto a lined baking sheet and bake in a 475 degree oven for 15 minutes. As soon as the biscuits are done, brush them with a bit of melted butter. let them cool just a tad, stuff with the country ham slices to enjoy!
If you love biscuits, then you’ll want to try my recipe for grilled drop blue cheese biscuits next. These are also delicious with country ham and a side of Tidewater Grain Co. Cheesy Rice Middlins.