HURON — “Biscuit check...they’re rising,” said Pam Linton to her audience Friday at the Women’s Building.
Linton is a professional entertainer who also has a talent for home-style cooking, as featured at the South Dakota State Fair on Friday morning. Her cooking demonstration this year was “Southern Style Biscuits and Cowboy Sausage Gravy.”
Pam Linton’s husband, Sherwin Linton, a country music icon, was an instigator in the idea of making biscuits and gravy for the demonstration, “It was my husband’s idea and I started with his mom’s recipe, which is a South Dakota biscuit recipe. As I progressed through the process of making those biscuits I went in search of hints and ways to make them flakier and rise higher, so I kind of morphed my recipe away from her initial recipe but that’s where I started,” Linton explained, “I worked on adapting my recipe to get it the way I wanted it to be, and I wanted big biscuits.”
Linton had been preparing and working on perfecting the recipe since March and her goal was to research a way to make the biscuits colossal, “I am a researcher, I take a lot of heirloom or vintage recipes and then manage to adapt those for today’s kitchen.”
Some of Linton’s favorite recipes include banana bread with orange glaze and rhubarb bread with an almond sugar topping, “In my cookbook are some recipes that are special things to me like my banana bread with orange glaze,” Linton explained, “my spring thing this year was experimenting with rhubarb.”
This is Linton’s third year cooking at the state fair after she was approached by Candi Briley, S.D. State Fairgrounds Assistant Manager, with the idea, but she has been entertaining with her husband, Sherwin for much longer.
“Candi Briley came to me three years ago and said “what would your thoughts be on doing a food demonstration in the State Fair kitchen?”“ Linton said, “It’s such a pleasure that they would have enough trust in me, multiple years in a row to do this, it is very flattering.” Linton was accompanied in the kitchen by her assistant, Patti Graffunder, who Linton says is, “wonderful, she has a third sense to know exactly what I need.”
Samples of the featured recipe and southern strawberry shortcake were handed out at the end of the demonstration. Linton has published a cookbook and line of vintage aprons which were available for sale at her demonstration on Friday, plus another cookbook has been promised to reach the shelves in the future.
Pam Linton's recipes
Seasoned Pork Breakfast Sausage
1 pound ground pork
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 3/4 teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/3 teaspoon fennel seed
1 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Blend all spices together in a spice grinder or mini-food processor. Knead spice blend into the ground pork. Chill seasoned ground pork overnight. Pattie sausage or fry as loose meat for sausage gravy. Spices may also be stirred directly into the pork if chunkier bits of fennel are preferred in the sausage.
Pam's Colossal Baking Powder Biscuits (makes 12 biscuits)
4 cups white all-purpose flour
2 Tablespoons baking powder
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons sugar
12 Tablespoons of cold butter
2 cups buttermilk
2 pinches baking soda (add to buttermilk)
4 Tablespoons milk (brush on biscuits prior to baking)
4 Tablespoons melted butter (brush on biscuits after baking)
Preheat oven to 450 F. Mix together flour, baking powder, salt and sugar. Cut cold butter into flour mixture with a pastry cutter. Freeze flour and butter mixture for 15 minutes. Add baking soda to buttermilk then combine with flour butter mixture. Stir with spatula, mixture will be wet and sticky. Flour counter or pastry mat, and hands, then form dough into a ball. Knead 10 to 15 times with hands (less is best), and pat dough into a 1 and a half-inch thickness. Using a biscuit cutter, cut biscuits with an up and down motion. Do not twist. Place biscuits into buttered cast iron skillet, brush with milk and bake for 15 to 18 minutes. Brush with melted butter when biscuits are removed from the oven.
Dakota Cowboy Sausage Gravy (serves six)
1/2 pound seasoned pork sausage (recipe above)
4 1/2 cups milk
4 Tablespoons fat
6 Tablespoons flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
Melt fat in frying pan over medium heat, crumble and fry sausage as loose meat. Remove from pan. Mix flour, salt and pepper into drippings. Stir until mixture is brown and bubbling, stir constantly to prevent lumping. Add milk and cook until thickened. Be careful to continue crushing lumps with the back of spoon or gravy will be lumpy. Once gravy is thickened add crumbled sausage and heat through. Serve hot over split Colossal Baking Powder Biscuits.
Photos by Angelina Della Rocco of the Plainsman
Moments after completing her cooking demonstration, Pam Linton was on stage, singing with her husband, Sherwin Linton, right, in his stage show.