Charleston’s biscuit queen Carrie Morey is no stranger to busy weeknights. As a wife and mother of three, the owner of a thriving biscuit business, and an all-around entrepreneur, her days are hard to predict, but one thing is for certain: at suppertime, you’ll find her gathered around the table with her family.
Carrie founded Callie’s Charleston Biscuits in 2005, and now, her tender, buttery biscuits are sold frozen in stores across the country and served freshly baked at four locations of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuit in Charleston, Atlanta, and Charlotte. She published her first cookbook Callie’s Biscuits and Southern Traditions in 2013, and in 2021, Carrie became the star of a culinary docuseries titled How She Rolls on PBS.
We sat down with the master biscuit baker to learn about her just-released book and why nightly family meals are held close to her heart. Plus, get a taste of the scrumptious recipes in Hot Little Suppers below with a weeknight-friendly skillet supper: Carrie’s Tomato Rice Bake with Smoked Sausage.
Tell us about Hot Little Suppers. How does it reflect your life?
Hot Little Suppers is an authentic representation of my life and that is one being a mother first, an entrepreneur second, and having a desire to sit down at the family table with our daughters. Gathering around the table for a family meal is a grounding space for me. No matter how bad or good the day has been, it’s where we celebrate and commiserate and have daily check-ins with each other. It’s an opportunity to reconnect after all of our crazy days, and what you see in Hot Little Suppers is how I cook at home. It’s simple, delicious, flavorful meals that work for everything from busy weeknights to fabulous dinner parties.
Were family suppers a regular occurrence in your home growing up?
I grew up in the 80s when every parent was working and we rarely sat down for a family dinner during the week. When I was younger, spending time with my grandmother while my parents were both working, I have very fond memories of cooking all day for the meal at night. But in my every day life growing up with my immediate family, there weren’t a lot of family suppers unless it was an occasion or a Sunday. I had an amazing childhood, but I think this book—my entire career actually—was born out of my desire for that family dynamic and to have those family suppers.
Do you have any advice for folks wanting to make family suppers a nightly ritual in their own homes?
Keep it simple. A lot of people think of dinner as needing to be this big ordeal with multiple dishes, and I’m just not a big believer in that. I love one-pot meals. And, don’t be so hard on yourself. There’s going to be those days where no amount of planning will get you a hot meal to serve your family, so just do what you can, even if it’s going by the grocery store and grabbing a rotisserie chicken, a bottle of Italian dressing, and head of lettuce. It’s fine! Not everything has to be gourmet. It can even mean going through the drive-thru and getting Big Macs and French fries and serving them on china with linens. It doesn’t matter as long as you’re gathering around the table with your family.
From bright Dutch ovens to well-seasoned skillets in every size, you have quite the cast iron collection. What role does it play in your kitchen?
I love that I can create an Indian stew or a cast iron brownie and then turn around and wipe it out and fry up a big piece of fish or sauté shrimp. To me, it’s the best piece of cookware you can own because it’s so versatile. And on top of that, the cooking is just part of it. I serve things out of cast iron all the time, even unconventional things. I use it as a breadbasket lined with a linen and put biscuits in it with a Mason jar of whipped butter or fill it with wrapped silverware.
Are there any pieces of cast iron that you reach for most?
Cast iron never leaves my stove. I have everything from the tiniest pieces of cast iron that I use for melting butter to one that is so big I have to have my husband lift it out of the oven, and I use it all!
From Hot Little Suppers, it’s clear that your daughters enjoy spending time in the kitchen too. What’s it like passing on that love of cooking?
What gives me the most pride is seeing my children’s interest in food. One of my favorite stories in the cookbook is about my oldest daughter, Caroline, who is a senior this year. She loves to have her friends over on a Saturday night to cook, and she came to me a while back and asked if I would buy the ingredients. Uh, absolutely! I told her I would host everyone that she wanted to have over for supper. It started out as carbonara, but I tried to push her towards Cacio e Pepe which is one of my favorites and a little easier to make. So, teaching her how to make that and seeing all of these girls interested in food and sit down to a proper supper over standing out in the woods at some party, I’ll take that any day!
“Red rice is a traditional Southern dish (and a tradition in other cultures as well), and I love the nostalgia of it. This version is an update that makes it into an easy one-pot meal where you don’t have to cook the rice ahead of time. And there are so many variations. You can add cheese. You can serve it as a side instead of a main. You can make a vegetarian version. My children love it. My favorite thing is the way the rice gets crispy on top. It gives the dish that extra bite and texture that makes me happy.” —Carrie Morey
- 6 slices bacon
- 1 yellow onion, diced (about 1 cup)
- 3 celery stalks, diced (about 1½ cups)
- 1 green bell pepper, diced (about 1 cup)
- 4 cloves garlic, minced (about 4 teaspoons)
- 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
- 1 tablespoon dried oregano
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- 1½ cups basmati rice, rinsed 4 to 5 times in cold water and drained
- 1 cup water or chicken stock (can substitute vegetable stock)
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Salt and freshly ground coarse black pepper to taste
- 3 tablespoons butter, divided
- 1 (14-ounce) package smoked sausage, cut into ½-inch pieces
- 1 cup fresh bread crumbs
- Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Heat a cast-iron skillet or sauté pan to medium heat. Add the bacon and cook until crisp. Remove the bacon from the skillet and drain on paper towels. Remove all but 2 tablespoons of the bacon grease from the skillet. When the bacon is cool, crumble it and set aside.
- In the same skillet with 2 tablespoons of bacon grease, add the onion, celery, green bell pepper, and garlic. Sauté for 5 to 7 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender. Remove from the heat.
- Transfer the vegetables to a large bowl. Add the tomatoes, oregano, red pepper flakes, rice, water, lemon juice, crumbled bacon, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
- Add 1 tablespoon of the butter to the same cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Once the butter has melted, pour in the rice mixture. Add the smoked sausage slices and top with bread crumbs. Dot the remaining 2 tablespoons of butter all over the bread crumbs.
- Cover with foil and bake for 45 to 60 minutes. Remove the foil and broil 4 to 6 minutes to toast bread crumbs and crisp sausage.
Recipe excerpted with permission from Hot Little Suppers by Carrie Morey published by Harper Horizon 2021.
*Recipe not tested by Southern Cast Iron