Why the Livermush Biscuit Is a North Carolina Treasure
Surely, you already know about many of the South’s favorite regionally-specific foods like ambrosia, chicken and waffles, and even Southern-specific brands like Grapicio. But, there’s one more Southern specialty you should add to your “must try one day” culinary list: Livermush biscuits. And, thanks to a few inventive chefs, this one-time depression food is getting a high-end makeover.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the meaty treat known as livermush — which is likely, as a search on Instagram comes back with a mere 3,000 photos — let us first introduce you to that.
Livermush is made from a mixture of leftover meat parts and flour. According to Daily Yonder, the meat is typically mixed with buckwheat flour to help the recipe thicken. The mixture is then allowed to set like a loaf and sliced like polenta. Think of it somewhat like the Pennsylvania dish known as scrapple. The meal, Daily Yonder noted, was created out of necessity. It’s not exactly a delicacy, but it gets the job done.
But, John Dean, executive chef at the New Public House & Hotel in Blowing Rock, North Carolina, wasn’t satisfied with letting livermush simply be a utilitarian meal. So, he created the livermush biscuit instead.
“I feel like a good homemade breakfast is a basis for a good, healthy day,” Dean shared with OurState about his new culinary creation.
According to OurState, Dean cooks up his livermush, which is made with a combination of ground pork liver, head, or butt; cornmeal; and spices in a cast-iron skillet then serves it on a large biscuit with a fried egg and a “zigzag of yellow mustard.”
Of course, Dean isn’t the inventor of the livermush biscuit, he simply enhanced it with his own flare.
WATCH: Southern Living Editors React to Livermush
Others, Garden & Gun noted like to smother their livermush biscuits with jam or jelly, while Paste Magazine added that many enjoy it with mayonnaise, and even more still say it’s perfect with maple syrup. No matter what, it’s the warm, buttery, flaky, fresh-baked biscuit that brings it all together. And you could even try to make it in your own home too.
Currently, Extra Crispy explained, livermush is sold one-pound blocks shaped like a brick. The brick is typically sliced up and seared on a cast-iron skillet on both sides until its crispy and golden brown along the edges, just like Dean makes it in his restaurant. Usually, it’s served as breakfast meat on that biscuit alongside eggs and toast, but really, it’s a treat you can enjoy whenever and however you please.
Be warned: If you’re not from North Carolina, or didn’t grow up eating livermush all that often, it can be quite the acquired taste. But, give that biscuit a few bites and you may just find yourself a livermush fan, too.
“It doesn’t sound appetizing,” Barlowe told Garden&Gun. “But it’s funny: When we put it on the menu, even though we’re a white-tablecloth restaurant, we sell out every time. People come in for a fine-dining menu, but when they see livermush, they’re like, I’ve got to have that!”