Charlie Bob’s Biscuits and Gravy

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

There are some places you just really want to like, whether it actually makes sense or not. Charlie Bob’s is like that for me. And I do like it. I’m just not sure how much of that is deserved and how much is folklore.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

Let me explain. First, I found out about this place from the East Nashville “listserve”. Restaurants in the ‘hood often get a lot of discussion on the listserve and it is fun to be in on what people are talking about.

East Nashville Mural

East Nashville is all about the dogs – even on the murals.

Second, it has this blend of old diner style and new kitsch. Old sign, checkered tablecloths, old photos on the walls. But there is also a bar in the back and a tiny stage area for songwriter nights. All of the ingredients of a hidden gem.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

Third, it is on Dickerson Pike. When I was growing up here, Dickerson Pike was known as one of the seediest parts of Nashville. Drugs. Prostitution. Violence. But as East Nashville has gotten cleaned up, so has Dickerson Pike. At least to some extent. M. and I recently did a photo safari down Dickerson Pike, attempting to capture some of the character, before it all disappears.

Dickerson Pike

So we have been to Charlie Bob’s twice now, for breakfast. The first time we were practically the only ones there and could wander around, looking at the interesting stuff on the walls. This last time they were busy so we stayed put in our booth. Our breakfast was good, but I told M. I would have liked it a LOT better if it had arrived about 20 minutes earlier. The service was incredibly slow on this visit. I was really hungry and got pretty grumpy, especially when the people at the neighboring table (who arrived 15 minutes after us) got their food first.

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

So how were the biscuits?
Pretty good. They did not have the crisp “just baked” exterior that I like to find. I expect they were pulled from a warming drawer or something.

But the sausage gravy was really good! I think I hit on the distinction between good and better sausage gravy while at the Nashville Biscuit House. The better gravy is cooked with the sausage so that the flavors meld. I believe that was the case here.

The rest of the meal was good, too. Solid breakfast standards like super crispy bacon. It did not last long, though. We were too hungry. At one point, M. asked me a question about something and I did not even bother to answer. I just kept on eating. . . .

Charlie Bob's | Persnickety Biscuit

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New Find! Professor Bailey’s Spicy Pimento Cheese BISCUITS

Nashvillians take note. There is a new pimento cheese in town – Professor Bailey’s Spicy Pimento Cheese, to be specific.

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese Biscuits

Sometimes, it pays to know people. This was one of those times. Tom Bailey, owner and head pimento-cheese maker for Professor Bailey’s Pimento Cheese, went to high school with my brother. When I heard about his new venture, I asked if I could get an advance sample. To my surprise, he showed up on my doorstep with a cooler full of goodies. Pimento Cheese, Pimento Cheese Gougeres, AND Pimento Cheese Biscuits. [He’ll soon be offering a pimento cheese mornay sauce, too.]

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese

The gougeres and biscuits came uncooked and frozen, so into the freezer they went. I wanted to save those for a leisurely weekend breakfast. I immediately opened up the pimento cheese container, though, and had a sample.

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese

Now, I grew up in the south – I’m actually a native Nashvillian, as is Tom. So I grew up with pimento cheese. My memory of it is as a kind of gloppy spread with something resembling cheese in it. Not the best of impressions. THIS pimento cheese, though? Professor Bailey’s Pimento Cheese? Totally different. Real cheese, clearly more than one kind, sharp, grated, just barely held together with a little mayo, and graced with enough jalapeño to give it a kick and that distinctive peppery flavor. One bite and I knew this was something different. But could I wait until the weekend for the biscuits?

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese Biscuits

It was hard, but I did manage to wait. When I finally took the biscuits out of the freezer and put them on the baking sheet my first thought was, “These are the cutest biscuits I’ve ever seen!” They even have these little hats on them. Precious. My second thought was, “I’m going to need more of these.” My third thought was, “They are SO cute!”

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese Biscuits

Ok, I’ll get off of the cute subject. But they are. Cute.

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese Biscuits

Anyway, I baked them up and they rose prfectly, lilting off to the side slightly, gaining even more personality. You can see how full of cheese they are. As is, they provide a perfect bite or two straight out of the oven. If you know me, though, you know I had to try a variety of accoutrements.

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese Biscuits

Here is the sampling I prepared. Honey butter, bacon, sausage, and extra pimento cheese. Honey butter went wonderfully with this biscuit, because, well, honey butter goes with everything! The bacon, baked with pepper and brown sugar like I learned to do when making this recipe, was perfect. There was just enough sweet, salt, and pepper to enhance, rather than overwhelm, the flavor of the biscuit.

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese Biscuits

The sausage, while delicious, did overwhelm the biscuit, so was my least favorite combination. Finally, adding just a little pimento cheese as filling lent a creamy texture that was delightful. Overall,  my first and second choices would be to either have this biscuit plain – straight from the oven – or with bacon.

Are you ready for some pimento cheese and biscuits now? If so, you can find Tom at the Farmer’s Market  Thursday-Sunday. Professor Bailey’s products can also be found at Lazzaroli’s pasta shop in Germantown, which is a wonderful little shop. Apparently, they make pimento cheese ravioli, too. You might just see me there, because I am fresh out of pimento cheese!

Professor Bailey's Spicy Pimento Cheese Biscuits

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For more info, check out Professor Bailey’s Facebook page. His website is not up and running yet, but should be soon. And Chris Chamberlain did a great write-up in the Nashville Scene this week.

National Biscuit Month – Top Five Biscuits

In honor of September being National Biscuit Month, I’ve created a list of …

“Wait, there is a National Biscuit Month?” you ask. Yep. That’s what I hear and I’m going with it.

So … I’ve created a list of the top five biscuit recipes I’ve tried since starting this blog. If you would like to make some biscuits and don’t know where to start, pick one of these and you can’t go wrong. Almost all of them are some combination of savory and sweet, with a little spice thrown in for good measure. They are in no particular order.

Buttermilk Yogurt

Yogurt Buttermilk Biscuits

So far, I’d have to say that this is my favorite recipe for “plain” biscuits. They are so light and fluffy and slightly tangy. Perfect by themselves and also an excellent vehicle for any herb or spice that you might want to add. They also turned out to be the perfect cake to use for Strawberry Shortcake with sweetened whipped cream.

Bacon, Brown Sugar

Bacon Brown Sugar Biscuit
This is the biscuit that completely redefined bacon for me. Plain bacon is good. Really good. But bacon that has been cooked with black pepper and brown sugar? Transcendant. Then you mix that into a biscuit? Crazy good food. That’s what it is.

Apple, Basil, Cheddar

Apple, Basil, Cheddar Biscuit (Paige's Family Dinner Biscuit)

I love how the creator of these biscuits was so generous in sharing the recipe with me. These biscuits are mostly savory, with a bit of sweetness from the apple. Which is also a bit tart. Wonderful blending of flavors and textures in this one. I may have to make another batch while I still have some fresh basil in the garden.

Pumpkin

Pumpkin Biscuits

These are sweet, but not too sweet. So moist with the pumpkin, and slightly spicy, and a gorgeous color. Something for all the senses. I also love the way the sweet and spicy played off of the fine sausage that I paired with it. That made these magical.

Buffalo Blue Cheese

buffalo blue cheese biscuit

Because sometimes you just need Buffalo flavored . . . anything. These are a unique and tasty way to fulfill the craving.

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Now, go, make some biscuits, and let me know how they turned out. And, as always, share them with someone you love.

Bacon, Brown Sugar Biscuits, Oh My!

If only for tonight, I feel like I have made it as a Biscuit Maker. Tomorrow or the next day or next week I may try another recipe, another biscuit, and be disappointed. All I know is that the Bacon Brown Sugar Biscuits I baked tonight put me into a whole new category.

Bacon Brown Sugar Biscuit

Where did this biscuit recipe come from?

The recipe comes from a post by Joy the Baker. She has many other great biscuit recipes that I can’t wait to try!

biscuit baking

Sorry – no orderly arrangement of ingredients here. This is how I bake.

Why choose this biscuit recipe?

Um. Bacon and brown sugar. I was ready for a biscuit that would knock my socks off. And um, did I mention the bacon? Actually, I had seen several biscuit recipes that called for bacon, but most of them have onion in them as well. That sounds good and I’m sure I’ll try that, but the brown sugar idea is what got me. I love sweet and salty together.

Peppered Brown Sugar Bacon

What is Persnickety about this biscuit recipe?

One thing I thought interesting is that this recipe calls for an egg. Before I actually started the baking of biscuits and was still just in research mode, I put together a spreadsheet of biscuit recipe ingredients from different sources. Yes, I am that person. I only found one that had an egg. I’m not sure what the egg does. Holds the ingredients together better? Makes them more moist? If you know, please comment and tell me!

biscuitrecipesspreadsheet

The bacon all by itself was something special. Baked in the oven, sprinkled with brown sugar and black pepper. Oh my goodness. I may never cook bacon any other way.

Bacon Brown Sugar Biscuits

What changes were made in the making of this biscuit recipe?

The only changes I made were cooking the bacon the night before and adding a sprinkle of extra pepper and sea salt on the top prior to baking. The pepper in the recipe is a really nice compliment to the sweet and salty.

Bacon Brown Sugar Biscuits

Before going in the oven…

What would I do differently next time? Probably cut the bacon up into smaller pieces. That’s about it.

So how was the biscuit?

The sounds we made while eating these were almost embarrassing. They were that good. They may not be the prettiest biscuits I’ve ever made but WOW they were good. The perfect blend of sweet, salty, smokey, and peppery.

Bacon Brown Sugar Biscuits

How were the leftover biscuits prepared?

We reheated them in the microwave – just wrap a damp paper towel around a biscuit and nuke it for about 10 seconds. Let it sit for about 20 seconds, then eat!

I also toasted them because I have this thing about toasted biscuits. Wonderful!

Toasted Bacon Brown Sugar Biscuit

Toasted

I think they would probably also be good as a sandwich, like a BLT with the bacon already in the biscuit, but am not sure I can keep enough of them around to find out. They are that good.