Most people could agree that Asheville is a really hard town not to love. Not only is it surrounded by the most beautiful mountains in the southeast (yes, we're a little bit biased), but it's overflowing with particularly unique music, bars, and (most importantly) restaurants. This well-known mountain city has been widely raved about for its innovative and humble claim to Southern food fame, and it just so happens that past International Biscuit Festival alumns Jason and Carolyn have dedicated their careers to providing our favorite Southern food – biscuits, of course!
About to turn the ripe age of three, Biscuit Head has two locations; both of which are consistently crowded and overcome with breakfast-loving locals and tourists alike. Lovers (and magicians, we'd stretch) of anything breakfast related, Jason and Carolyn have cultivated some of the most impressive biscuit sandwiches we've ever seen, offering flights of homemade gravy as well as an exotic jam bar.
Being largely focused on the importance of strong community, they source all their beef locally and “strive to have a restaurant with as light of a carbon footprint as possible,” meaning they make everything either recyclable or compostable.
According to Jason, “A Biscuit Head biscuit is special because they're made fresh and served hot and still crispy right from the oven. They're being made to order throughout the day and are always at their prime. We serve 'cathead' biscuits, which are large drop style biscuits, but we also use our own blend of flours to create the perfect texture.
He continues, “I believe biscuits to be all about balance. Balance in flavor, a balance in textures – even a cultural balance.”
Outside of any typical cathead biscuit recipe, Jason offers a quick butter tip: Using chilled and cubed butter, “cut” it in just before the buttermilk. “Why do we blend in butter this way? Well, as the biscuit dough cooks and the butter is melted inside the dough, steam is released from the fat itself. This steam and the fat’s ability to produce it help the biscuit dough rise and also give the biscuit its signature flakiness, lightness, and moisture.” Thanks, Jason!
Because Jason and Carolyn know any delicious biscuit can be complemented with any kind of gravy, they've kindly offered us the recipe to Biscuit Head's homemade Red Eye Gravy!
Jason offers a quick history lesson in the popular sauce, “Red Eye Gravy has its roots in the Great Depression when the recipe was created with resourcefulness in mind. It was quick and easy to make and used leftover coffee and the cured ham that was able to last without refrigeration. If you’re not already familiar with it, Red Eye is thin, almost the consistency of Au Jus, because it's not thickened with flour like many other gravies. The traditional base is country ham and coffee, but we like to add molasses, onion, and garlic to create a brighter, more balanced flavor. This is the easiest of all gravies to make and in our opinion, still one of the best. We love the intense salty flavor, the way it soaks into a biscuit, and many swear by its ability to cure a hangover!”
Red Eye Gravy
Serves four—or one very hungry man
4 cups of your favorite coffee old coffee is fine
¼ cup water
3 ounces chopped country ham
1/2 cup onion diced
1 teaspoon garlic minced
2 tablespoons molasses
In a medium sized cast iron skillet, combine the country ham and water. Turn on the heat to medium and let the mixture start to warm. Continue to cook the ham over medium heat until all the water has evaporated from the pan--in effect rendering the fat. Once the water is cooked out, let the ham crisp a little in its own fat.
Add the chopped onions and garlic and sauté until it starts smelling amazing, but not long enough to brown. Add the molasses, stirring until it reaches a slight bubble. Add the coffee, bring back up to a simmer, and it's ready to serve!
Jason adds, “country ham has a very distinct flavor that is not easily substituted with any other product. Check with your local butcher or online for this product, but if you absolutely can't get it and need a substitution you can use prosciutto. Just don't tell your Southern friends!”
When visiting Asheville, we urge you to visit this biscuit haven to satisfy your southern needs. Biscuit Head not only thrives in popularity, but also provides what this world needs more of – love (with honest ingredients), of course.
733 Haywood Rd
West Asheville, NC 28806
828. 333. 5145
417 Biltmore Ave, Ste 4F
Asheville, NC 28801
828. 505. 3449