The Midwestern Meat & Drink Ben Welch

Ben Welch is the executive chef of The Midwestern Meat & Drink.

While honoring stay-at-home orders, home cooks everywhere are honing their skills in the kitchen. Feast consulted with some of St. Louis' finest chefs for their best advice on how to make easy, wholesome meals using simple pantry staples. Find out how to make the most of your groceries in this Q&A series, which outlines some pro tips for creating nutritious and comforting from-scratch meals, baked goods and more.

Ben Welch is the executive chef of The Midwestern Meat & Drink, where he cooks up his own brand of barbecue and comfort food favorites. The Midwestern is temporarily closed, but patrons can support the business by buying a gift card online.

What are some ways home cooks can boost flavor in savory dishes? If you find that your dish falls flat in flavor, I bet that it could benefit from some added acid (citrus juice, vinegar, wine, etc.) or salt (kosher or finishing). Always start small – you can always add more but you can’t remove. Also, save your leftover bacon fat to flavor other dishes. Use it for sautéing or adding flavor to doughs, vinaigrettes, sauces, etc. Leftover soups can also make great sauces for another night’s meals. Stop being afraid to season your foods, and push your limits a little to encourage more flavor out of your dishes. Practice makes perfect.

What method do you prefer for brining your meats before cooking? I’m personally a believer of dry brining versus wet brining for all but about a handful of recipes. I’m using a dry brine if I’m grilling, smoking, roasting, frying, etc. To dry brine your favorite cut of meat, lightly and thoroughly salt your protein and liberally season it with your favorite spice blend or rub. Place the seasoned protein on a rack over a pan or plate and chill in the refrigerator for at least for four to six hours (if not overnight), uncovered. Then, prepare your dish as normal. I use the “Love Rub” Q seasoning by Big Baby Spice Co. for most of my smoking applications. 

How can people practice proper food safety in their home kitchen? Remember that during these times of self isolation that there are both right and wrong ways to clean to reduce cross-contamination. Let's focus on the right way:

1) Clean the surface with an appropriate cleaner.

2) Rinse the surface with clean water.

3) Apply a sanitizer to the cleaned surface.

4) Allow the cleaned and sanitized surface to air dry before using.

5) Repeat all steps, using separate towels for each step.

What is one of your favorite go-to comfort food recipes?

"Not-My-Mamas Biscuits"

Yield | 8-10 large biscuits |

  • 1 ¾ lbs self-rising flour (I prefer to use White Lily self-rising flour)
  • 1 ½ Tbsp sugar
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  • 1 ½ oz. cold shortening
  • 6 oz. cold butter
  • 20 oz. cold heavy cream
  • 8 oz. cold sour cream
  • all-purpose flour, for dusting

| Preparation | Preheat oven to 500°F.

Prep a half sheet pan by brushing it liberally with butter or spraying with pan spray.

In a mixing bowl, whisk together the first three ingredients and set aside, keep cold.

Whisk together the heavy cream and sour cream, set aside and keep cold. Grab the flour mixture bowl and thoroughly rub the shortening into the flour. Using the largest holes on a box grater and using force, grate the cold butter over the flour mixture.

Gently fold the grated butter into the flour, mixing just enough to break up and coat the butter – you want to be left with large visible pieces of butter.

Make a well in the bowl and slowly pour in the chilled heavy cream and sour cream (buttermilk).

Quickly with your hands, mix the buttermilk into the flour until the dough just starts to come together.

Transfer the dough to a liberally floured work surface.

Flatten the dough into a rectangle and laminate into seven folds, dusting the table with more flour as needed to prevent it from sticking.

Lightly flour the table and the dough and flatten to 9”x13” aka ¼ sheet pan.

Cut the dough into 10 even portions.

Arrange the biscuits on the prepared sheet pan about ½” apart.

Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.

Chill the biscuits 30 minutes before baking. After 30 minutes, place the biscuits into the oven and drop the temperature to 425°F.

Bake the biscuits for 17-20 minutes. Cool to room temperature before serving.