Ina Garten Has A Better Way To Grate Cold Butter

The hallmark of a craveable pie crust or biscuit is how flaky it falls apart. For biscuit and pie doughs, you create those pillowy layers of pastry are created by mixing tiny pieces of cold butter (or the fat of your choice) into your dry ingredients. In her latest cookbook "Go-To Dinners," food personality Ina Garten revealed a simple method to achieve those prized layers while minimizing a messy clean-up after baking: grating very cold, unsalted butter on a piece of parchment paper for a no-hassle transfer to your mixing bowl.

In her recipe for buttermilk biscuits, the Food Network star suggests using the largest holes on your box grater, much like you would to shred carrots, to get shards of butter that will easily incorporate into your dough. These small pieces of cold butter can stick to many common cooking surfaces, but the silicone layer found on parchment paper prevents these shreds of freezing butter from adhering, like they would to a plate or cutting board. Plus, rather than hovering over your mixing bowl while grating, this method lets you stabilize the box grater on the counter to avoid injuries.

Parchment paper keeps grated butter from sticking

Grating your butter might seem like an unnecessary step when you can just dice it and add it to your biscuit dough. However, the Barefoot Contessa writes that compared to dicing, grating your butter makes the final biscuit flakier. This process mimics the pastry technique known as fraisage, where you normally use the heel of your hand to smear diced butter into flat discs within the dough. 

However, with that method, if you don't work quick enough, the heat of your hand can start melting the butter before it even gets a chance to bake in the oven. In Garten's recipe, the pieces of grated butter are small enough that after lightly mixing to combine, you already have cold butter evenly distributed throughout your dough and ready to puff your pastry in the oven. You can also prep your dough ahead of time and freeze until it's needed.