Ask anyone from the province about savoury and they will tell you that it’s a staple in most Newfoundland kitchens. Summer savoury is an annual herb and is hearty enough to survive the short Atlantic growing season. It’s flavour is similar to the winter variety and is sometimes used as a substitute for sage.
Newfoundlanders use summer savoury mostly in stuffing, or as we call it, dressing. This is the stuffing that you will find inside your holiday turkey. One of my favourite uses is to have chips with Newfie dressing. That is french fries which are covered in a deep rich brown gravy, then you add fried onions and dressing on top. It can be found in most restaurants on the island.
There was a small place in Windsor called Hiscock’s. Unfortunately the store is closed and a candy/ice cream shop is in its place. Hiscock’s was famous for its chips and dressing. They were open late into the night and one could go there after staying out with your friends and scarf back some loaded wedge fries.
These fries were amazing. Thick wedges of potatoes, battered and deep fried. The outside was crispy and inside was light and fluffy. The way a french fry should be. These would then be piled into a takeout container the similar shape as those rectangular Chinese takeout containers. Then you would choose your toppings. My personal favourite was dressing and gravy with deep fried weiners.
Remember this was the time in my youth when I didn’t care about calories or what I ate. I was a skinny teenager. Oh how things have changed. I would get the fries, dripping with lovely brown gravy, layered with the savoury dressing, and peppered with little pillows of weiners (these were deep fried too). Heavenly and amazingly good.
Summer savoury can be used in other applications too. I found a lovely recipe for biscuits and decided to add the savoury to the recipe. Similar to a scone, these biscuits are light and fluffy, and are very quick to make. They are perfect as a side to mostly any main, but they are best if you have something in a sauce or gravy. That way you can use the biscuit to sop up the excess.
The original recipe calls for vegetable shortening, but you can use butter. Preheat your oven to 450F. Combine the dry ingredients: flour, baking powder, sage, savoury, thyme and salt. Cut in with a pastry blender or forks the shortening. PRO TIP: Freeze the shortening and grate. Then add to the dry mix. Easier to get the small pieces covered in flour. Add the milk and combine until the dough comes together. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead the dough until the flour in incorporated, about 8-10 times. Try not to overwork the dough. You don’t want gluten to form which would make the biscuits too chewy. You can check out my post about bread rescue and it will give you some pointers on how not to overwork dough.
Flatten the dough until it’s about an inch thick. I just used my hands, but you can use a rolling pin if you want. Cut the dough into rounds and place on a greased (or Silpat lined) baking tray. When I was a child I watched my grandmother use an old Swartz mustard glass dipped in flour. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden brown. Transfer to a rack to cool. My rounds were about 3 inches in diameter.
An aside. Back in the 1960s, you could get mustard in these really cool glasses with card suits on them. I guess the Swartz mustard company thought that people would continue to buy their product to get a whole set. There were ubiquitous in most kitchens across the island. I only remember a couple of glasses at my grandparent’s house, but they may have lost some along the way.
Enjoy these wonderful fluffy, savoury biscuits. Don’t forget to drop me line and subscribe so you won’t miss out on any posts.
Quick Savoury Biscuits
- 2 cups All purpose flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/8 tsp ground sage
- 1/4 tsp dried thyme
- 1/4 tsp dried summer savoury
- 1/3 cup vegetable shortening Butter may be substituted - keep cold
- 3/4 cup milk
Preheat oven to 450F.
Combine dry ingredients in a large bowl: flour, baking powder, salt, and herbs. Mix well.
Using a pastry cutter, or two forks, cut in the shortening until finely incorporated. Then add milk and bring together into a dough. Turn out into a lightly floured surface and knead 8-10 times. If the dough is too dry you may have to add a little milk.
Flatten to about an inch thick with your hands or a rolling pin. Cut into rounds. Reshape scraps and flatten to cut out more rounds. Do this a maximum of two times or the dough will be too tough. Bake for 12-14 minutes until golden. Cool on rack. For best results serve slightly warmed.