This week I took a run to the wholesale grocer in Spokane to make a huge bulk purchase. A group in a nearby town is putting on a community crab feed this weekend, and Don was (ahem) informed at the last minute he was the chair of the event. He's been busting fanny for the last two weeks to make sure the dinner and subsequent auction runs smoothly.
I was tasked with purchasing the bulk food items (everything but the crab). Armed with a detailed list, off I went.
One of the items on the list simply said, "6 boxes 'Cheddar Bay' biscuits.'" However no such item was found at the wholesale store, and the clerks weren't familiar with it.
After leaving the wholesale grocer, I went to WinCo to pick up one item for ourselves (apples) when I happened to glance at the walls of boxed goods on display near the front entrance. And there it was: Red Lobster Cheddar Bay biscuit mix. It wasn't the bulk packaging normally needed for a community-wide event, so I called Don and asked how many of these he wanted me to get (since each box only made 10 biscuits). He suggested 25 boxes. I purchased 27 -- two boxes for ourselves -- since I was curious how this compared to my homemade version.
You see, many years ago -- in fact, just as I found I was pregnant with Older Daughter -- I waitressed for a few months at the Red Lobster restaurant in Medford, Oregon (a fine establishment; they treated their employees very well). I also learned how tough it is to be a waitress, and ever since we have unfailingly tipped very generously whenever we eat out. (Please treat your server well.)
The biscuits they served at the restaurant were absolutely delicious. I'm not surprised they started selling a boxed version.
But many years ago I also found a copycat recipe for these biscuits, which I make frequently. I was curious to compare the boxed version with my homemade ones, hence the purchase (it cost $1.98/box, by the way).
According to the directions, I needed to grate some cheese, add water, and melt some butter. These are drop biscuits, so they don't have to be rolled and cut.
In other words, with the boxed version, I still needed to grate the cheese and melt the butter. The only time-savings was having the other ingredients pre-mixed.
The biscuits came out a bit light for my taste (I could have kept them in the oven a few more minutes to darken).
While the biscuits were baking, I heated butter on the stove, and added their packet of flavoring (largely onion and garlic powder).
As soon as the hot biscuits came out of the oven, I double-brushed them with the flavored butter.
The verdict? Good, but not as good as homemade. "They taste almost the same, but when you bite into them, there's no substance," said Younger Daughter.
So it looks like I won't be substituting the boxed stuff for the homemade version any time soon. For those interested in making homemade garlic cheese biscuits, here's the recipe (which I always double; cold biscuits are still pretty durned good):
2 cups flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1 cup milk
2 teaspoons sugar
1/3 cups mayonnaise
Mix wet and dry ingredients together, then add:
4 ounces shredded cheddar cheese
Drop spoonfuls into bumpy mounds on baking sheet. Bake at 350F for 22-26 minutes (depending on how dark you like them). Immediately brush with garlic butter.
(My original blog post on garlic-cheese biscuits is here.)
Bottom line: The boxed biscuit mix is good -- but not as good as the copycat recipe we use. I'll continue to make them from scratch. However, kudos to Red Lobster for boxing a decent product.