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By Popular Demand

May 23, 2009

Ever since I posted these photos on Facebook a couple weeks ago…

biscuits-by-laura

biscuits-n-gravy

… I’ve had friends requesting the recipes I used to produce these delightful breakfast items.

I do not claim to be any kind of cooking expert, much less a true southern cook, but I must say that I’ve gotten pretty good at making biscuits and gravy lately.  I must warn you, though, that I tend to execute recipes with more focus on a process or technique than I do on a precise measurement of ingredients… I’ll do my best to give the particulars of how I created the food shown above (and I promise, it really was just as tasty as the pictures suggest!) but there will be a certain amount of guesswork involved, especially with the gravy.

Baking Powder Biscuits

I’m not going to pretend to have a secret family recipe here… if you already know how to make good biscuits, go for it with your own recipe. I start with the “baking powder biscuit” recipe found in an old tattered paperback edition of the Fannie Farmer Cookbook… then I double it (because my husband and boys can never have too many biscuits) and make some other adjustments that account for the acidity of buttermilk instead of regular milk. Here is the recipe with all those adjustments made:

Sift together:  4 C all-purpose flour +  4 tsp baking powder + 1/2 tsp baking soda + 2 tsp salt

With pastry blender work in 8 Tbsp of shortening. (I usually use butter, crisco sticks, or a combination of the two.)

With a fork, quickly stir in 1 – 1/3 C buttermilk

Add more milk (little by little) if needed until the dough is soft and light but not too sticky. Turn dough out onto a floured surface and knead about 20 strokes until smooth. Roll lightly to 3/4″ thickness. Cut or shape the biscuits as you like — I use a plastic tumbler from the cupboard that might be about 3″ in diameter, because we like fairly large biscuits.

Place biscuits on an ungreased cookie sheet and bake at 450º for 12-15 minutes (check for doneness, sometimes the bigger biscuits take an extra minute or two). Remove from oven and fight the hungry children off with a stick while you finish making…

Sausage Gravy

My recipe for sausage gravy is something that came about from reading various cookbook recipes, watching friends make their versions of the dish, and of course, watching a lot of Food Network. While I don’t remember his specific recipe for sausage gravy, I must mention here that I learned everything there is to know about making gravy in general by watching Alton Brown. People, laugh if you want to at his quirky demeanor… the man knows his stuff and I go looking for his recipes or techniques first whenever I want to try something new in the kitchen. Yay Alton!

To make the gravy pictured above…

Brown 1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage well in a nice deep frying pan, preferably non-stick.

After the sausage is well browned and most of the fat is rendered, remove the sausage to drain on paper towels and pour off most or all of the fat remaining in the pan. Don’t wash the pan… keep any of the brown carmelized tastyness that you (hopefully) have on the bottom, but get rid of the grease. You’ll add your own fat in a minute.

Put the pan back on the burner at medium heat and add some cooking oil to the pan. I use canola. Here is where the amount gets fuzzy… so play along with me… I don’t have a specific measurement, but I’d say it is probably 1/3 to 1/2 cup?  It’s enough to basically cover the bottom of the pan. If you want, you could also use a combination of canola oil and some butter to melt in there with it. Or, gee… you can use all the original grease from the sausage if you want. But for some reason that seems a little too gross.

Anyway, you have the oil in there, now you need to add a few tablespoons or so of flour. Here again, I am sorry that I don’t have specific amounts. I take a scoop from my flour canister and kind of sprinkle it all over the oil in the pan, and immediately whisk it so that it combines with the fat and also starts to loosen up a little bit of the brown goodness. You are making a roux, in case you didn’t know 🙂 Keep on whisking! You need to cook some of the raw flour flavor out, but don’t overcook so as to lose too much of the roux’s thickening power. When I make mine for this gravy, I usually end up tweaking a bit… adding a touch more oil, or a touch more flour, until I get something that is the consistency of… I don’t know… cream of wheat? Maybe.

Once you have your flour and oil combined and cooked a bit, grab your milk jug and start pouring milk in the pan. Pour and whisk at the same time.. keep the heat up so that you can get the mixture bubbling again. My guess is that I might have added about 3-4 cups of milk. Whatever fits in your frying pan I guess. At first the milk will seem like it’s too much and you will wonder if your gravy will be runny… but then it will start to thicken up and you might even decide that you need to thin it out some more. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Once you’ve gotten the gravy to the thickness you desire, add the sausage back to the pan and combine thoroughly.

Serve over split biscuits. Yum!

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3 comments

  1. Looks really delicious .. Laila .. http://lailablogs.com/


  2. I’ve been making biscuits and sausage gravy since before you were born, but your version sounds really good, well, actually better. I’ll let you know….


    • Definitely let me know! I don’t remember ever having your biscuits and gravy, so I have no idea how the two would compare…



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