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Show me the gravy!

December 1, 2007

As a kid, my parents drove my brother and I all over the place: Niagara Falls, Disney World, Connecticut, Montana/Idaho, Hershey Park (PA). Driving truly sucked, especially with a bratty little brother in the back seat the whole ride…but that’s another story for the couch so I won’t go into it here. I suppose as a kid, I never really appreciated the opportunities to see the country that driving provided (which is why I self-medicated with Dramamine), but I did see the opportunities in tasting the local foods wherever we drove through or ended up. There’s no question what my favorite local fare was and I looked for it on every menu at every truck stop, Denny’s or IHOP we ever stopped at: Biscuits and Gravy. :: insert Homer Simpson drooling sound here :: It’s not a dish that you can readily find here in the Northeast so it’s always such a treat to order it, especially when I’m down South.

However, now I don’t have to wait until I travel to find it!! My mom cut out a recipe for Biscuits and Gravy a few years ago from her local newspaper and it turns out that it’s a wonderful and fairly authentic recipe that I’ve been making ever since. I’m sure the recipes in the South call for some form of lard to enhance the flavor (and of course further clog the arteries) but this recipe is pretty basic, and it’s certainly not lacking in flavor. It happens to be Kyle’s #1 breakfast request for special occasions, weekends hosting guests, and holidays – but I refuse to make it for any sort of random day because I feel that we should have a “special” breakfast made only a couple times of year so that the novelty of this great meal doesn’t wear out.

Our most recent indulgence was for Thanksgiving morning breakfast and even with the hustle and bustle of preparing a turkey dinner for later in the day, there was still plenty of time to put this in our bellies because it’s so easy to make. For this occasion, I didn’t make biscuits from scratch (but have in the past), and used a can of refrigerated biscuits – no shame in that! I’ve never actually used the biscuit recipe below so I can’t attest to how it turns out but it sounds like it would turn out OK. Please note that I’ve made some changes to the gravy recipe, which you can see in italics.

Biscuits and Gravy
source: Bev Bennett in Newsday, April 6, 2003

For the biscuits:
  • 1 cup flour
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1/4 cup (1/2 stick) cold butter, cut into pieces
  • 4 to 5 tbsp milk
  • 1 tbsp minced chives (optional)
  1. Combine flour, salt, baking powder and sugar in a bowl. Cut in butter until mixture contains small chunks of butter. Add 4 tbsp milk and stir. If dough is stiff, add remaining tbsp of milk. Knead in chives. Dough should be soft, but not sticky.
  2. Pat dough to 3/4 inch thickness on lightly floured board. Cut into 4 circles with 2 1/2 inch cookie cutter. Place on greased cookie sheet. Bake in 425 degree oven for 15 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Place on wire rack to cool for 5 minutes before splitting open. Makes 4 biscuits.

For the gravy:

  • 8 oz bulk (ground) pork sausage in sage or hot seasonings (I use 12oz of ground breakfast sausage – either Jones’ or Jimmy Dean)
  • 1 tbsp* flour
  • 1 cup* milk or combination of milk and half-and-half (should be room temperature)
  • freshly ground black pepper (lots!!)
  1. While biscuits are baking, brown sausage in a medium, non-stick skillet (it doesn’t have to be non-stick). Do not pour off fat.
  2. Add flour to sausage and fat and stir to make a paste. Stir (whisk) in milk or half-and-half and cook over low heat (medium works better), stirring frequently, until sausage is hot and gravy is smooth and thick. (The mixture will need to come to a simmer before you get the right consistency.) Season generously with pepper.
  3. To serve, split each biscuit in half and top with 1/4 of the gravy mixture. Serve immediately. Serves 2.

*Notes:

  1. You might need a little extra flour and milk if you use extra sausage.
  2. Usually my gravy is a bit more “runny” than what these pics show but I was running low on milk that morning and had to make sure I had enough to last through the remainder of the holiday.
  3. This recipe easily doubles but I don’t recommend fully doubling the milk. Add as much milk as necessary to bring your gravy to your desired thickness.
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