If you could travel back in time to visit the original Red Lobster restaurant when it opened in Lakeland, FL, in 1968, you’d barely recognize the place: There were few seaside motifs, no popcorn shrimp, and, most shocking, there weren’t any Cheddar Bay Biscuits in the breadbasket. The now-famous freebies were introduced decades later, in 1991, replacing plain old garlic bread. Today, diners at the chain’s 680 locations consume more than 7 million of the warm, cheesy biscuits every week, yet readers like Curtis Swineford, from Middleburg, PA, still can’t get enough of them. He wrote to us asking for the recipe, so we called the restaurant’s Orlando, FL, headquarters to get it — with no luck. Undeterred, Food Network Kitchens developed these spot-on copies.
Position a rack in the upper third of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Lightly mist a large baking sheet with cooking spray.
Make the biscuits: Pulse the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt in a food processor. Add the shortening and pulse until combined. Add the butter; pulse 4 or 5 times, or until the butter is in pea-size pieces. Add the cheese and pulse 2 or 3 times. Pour in the milk and pulse just until the mixture is moistened and forms a shaggy dough. Turn out onto a clean surface and gently knead until the dough comes together. Do not overwork the dough or the biscuits will be tough.
Drop the dough onto the baking sheet in scant 1/4-cup portions, 2 inches apart, and bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Meanwhile, make the garlic butter: Melt the butter with the garlic in a small saucepan over medium heat; cook for 1 minute. Remove from the heat and stir in the parsley. Brush the biscuits with the garlic butter and serve warm.