Combine the dry ingredients: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Mix the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in a large bowl with a fork.
Cut in the lard: Cut the chilled lard into small cubes and add to the dry ingredients.
Use a pastry blender (or two forks) to cut the lard into the flour, pressing and twisting until the lard is in pea-size bits.
The mixture is ready when all the lard has been broken down into flour-coated bits and the mixture resembles coarse meal.
Add the milk: Make a well in the flour-fat mixture and slowly pour in the milk. Mix with a fork until just combined, then knead gently with your hands until the dough comes together into a sticky ball.
Roll out the dough: Turn the dough out onto a floured surface. Knead until smooth and pliable; do not overwork. Roll out into a 1/2-inch-thick round, flouring the rolling pin and dough as needed.
Cut out the biscuits: Smear a 10-inch hoe cake pan or cast-iron skillet with softened butter. Cut out 2-to-3-inch biscuits using a clean empty can, the mouth of a glass or a biscuit cutter. Put the biscuits on the pan. Reroll the scraps and cut out more biscuits. Make a fist and mark the top of each biscuit with your knuckles. Dot with softened butter. Bake until golden, 15 to 20 minutes.
Photograph by Squire Fox
Recipe courtesy Paula Deen for Food Network Magazine