There are many things I’ve had to explain to folks up here about life back home, but no subject nearly as often as food. For a place that has its own fair share of odd dishes and peculiar dining habits, it always makes me wonder why the North speaks so lowly about Southern cuisine. But then again it happens the other way around, too. This is one of the reasons I study food, specifically the geographic and political culinary rifts that developed across the Mason-Dixon line, which have since perpetuated a region-specific sense of patriotism and several stalwart dogmas as to how exactly biscuits should or should not be made.
Within the subject of food, there are several categories that always irk a curious Northerner – specifically the South’s ample use of lard, fried foods, and our affinity for sweet tea – to which I always want to ask in reply: why is there so much cream in everything, pizza on every corner, and can we talk about why a “regular coffee” up here is served with at least 6 sugars? But it won’t help, because people are unwaveringly loyal to their region’s food, as they well should be. So that’s when I whip out the big guns (another Southern thing, I suppose) and drop a food bomb on them so wonderfully fried and perfect that all their previous questions seem silly in comparison: Whataburger‘s Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, or, HBCB for those in the know.
The hardest part, in truth, is explaining how to say and spell Whataburger. It’s What-A-Burger, but you’re supposed to pronounce it like water-burger, I’ll tell them. But it doesn’t ever seem to help. Why should I go through such lengths explaining the quirks of Texas’ pride and joy when they will likely never even get to try it? Because everyone should know the joy of a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit, that’s why, my father’s Whataburger aficionado voice rings in my ear. And he’s right. So I’ve made the best approximation of the HBCB I could muster, all while keeping in line with my own personal trans-Atlantic baking style. So for all you curious Northerners – and my fellow homesick Texans – come over and have a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit Scone.
I guess I still need to do a bit of explaining, though. So the anatomy of a Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit is spelled out right in the title, more or less. A hot buttery biscuit is split in two and generously drizzled with honey butter (the recipe for which remained a long-kept secret by Whataburger, but has since become available by the bottle in our second Texas pride-and-joy, HEB). Then a piece of crisp fried chicken is sandwiched between the two biscuit halves and bundled up tightly in a paper wrapper. The whole thing’ll only set you back a couple of bucks and pairs nicely with a medium unsweet iced tea (note that Texas beverages are larger because we live in an unforgiving heat and need the extra hydration, so be sure to compare the diameter of your cup-holders before assuming you can handle a large). Also, it’s not polite to ask about calories. The HBCB shouldn’t be in your regular breakfast rotation anyways, so one every once and a while won’t hurt you. Note that I said unsweet tea so that’ll help (in Texas, we aren’t too terribly partial to the sweetened stuff, because, like I said, hydration and all).
This scone version combines all the same flavors of the classic HBCB in a much more manageable and less messy medium. The chicken pieces – still fried – are tucked into the slightly sweet dough and the honey butter is drizzled on top, but is also best served alongside for those who like a bit more HB with their CB. Use the best quality fried chicken you can buy or make your own and these scones can be a way to use up the leftovers.
Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit Scones
makes 8 scones
FOR THE SCONES:
2 cups flour
1/2 tablespoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons cold butter, cut into small pieces
1 cup heavy cream
1 egg yolk
1/4 teaspoon vanilla
2 tablespoons honey or crystallized honey
2-3 strips of fried chicken, cut into small pieces
extra butter for brushing
FOR THE HONEY BUTTER GLAZE:
2 tablespoons butter, melted
3 tablespoons honey
6 tablespoons powdered sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. Set the oven to 400 degrees.
2. In a large bowl, combine the flour, baking powder, and salt.
3. Using your fingers or the tines of two forks, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse cornmeal.
4. Make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in the cream, egg yolk, vanilla, and honey. Use a wooden spoon to combine all the ingredients until just combined. Add in the fried chicken and gently fold to incorporate.
5. Scrape the dough onto a floured surface and knead gently to form a ball. Flatten the ball into a disk about 3/4 of an inch thick. Using a sharp knife, cut the disk into eight wedges. Spread the wedges onto a baking sheet and brush the tops with a bit of melted butter. Bake until golden brown, about 16 to 18 minutes. Remove from oven and transfer to a wire rack to cool.
6. While the scones begin cool, make the glaze. In a small bowl, add the melted butter, honey, powdered sugar, and salt, whisking together until smooth. Drizzle over the scones and serve warm.
Note: If the glaze sits for too long it will begin to thicken. Leave in a glass bowl over a warm oven or pop in the microwave for a few seconds to keep it thin and easy to drizzle.