About a year ago two of my friends held a Southern dinner party, where a bunch of displaced Southerners brought comfort food. It was just as delicious as it sounds, with greens, fried chicken, fried green tomatoes, okra, pies, shrimp and grits… and biscuits and gravy. I’ve always loved biscuits and gravy and I associate this heavy breakfast with long road trips through the flyover states as we trekked from Minnesota to Texas or California in our minivan, stopping at diners with big signs that said “RESTAURANT” or “EATS.” So at this dinner party I asked the people who brought the awesome gravy for their recipe, and it was so simple that I memorized it and have made it several times since. It’s literally “1, 2, 3, lots.” Then for biscuit recipes I’ve done my friend’s secret family recipe as well as one from allrecipes that I’ve made several times (because it’s on the internet and my friend’s is written in a book).
Biscuits and gravy is great because once you pop the biscuits in the oven, you have just enough time to make gravy and everything is hot and ready at the same time. So let’s start with the biscuits.
Several years ago I went on a huge biscuit kick, the first time I lived in an apartment with a kitchen (not a dorm). My dear friend/roommate (now non-coincidentally a math educator) and I made so many biscuits and so much homemade jam within a few months. It was just as wonderful as it sounds. If you are young I highly recommend eating a ridiculous amount of carbs for a short while, because your metabolism and stomach will likely not be so great in the future [I am young but I do not think I could eat half a pan of biscuits by myself in one sitting anymore]. Anyways, biscuits are really easy! Mix flour with a few other things (salt, baking powder, sugar), cut in your fat (shortening and/or butter), and then mix in your liquid (milk or buttermilk or vegan substitute) until sticky dough is formed.
Throw some (1/4 cup) flour on a clean counter or table, and lightly knead the dough until it’s smooth (not smooth and elastic like yeasty bread dough, just not lumpy).
Then pat or roll it out, and cut it out with a glass dipped in flour. Roll the scraps together and cut out more. I always end up with one funky biscuit, the last one made of tiny pieces sadly patted together into an approximation of a circle.
Then toss those beauties into the oven on an ungreased baking sheet, and get ready for gravy!
You need one pound of breakfast sausage (I like Jimmy Dean’s sage sausage), two tablespoons of flour, three cups of milk, and far more pepper than you think is reasonable. Brown the sausage…
Then sprinkle it with the two tablespoons of flour and stir until the meat is evenly covered with flour; by then the flour should be browned too. Pour in the three cups of milk.
Now it looks like greasy sausage floating in milk, but bring it to a simmer and let it simmer for awhile, stirring, until it’s thick and turned into gravy. Then add way more pepper than seems necessary.
Those biscuits should be wrapping up in a few minutes. To serve, split a biscuit and put it on a plate, then drown it in gravy. I actually went back to sleep after making this and my family ate it without me (this is what happens when you have a baby who doesn’t understand time zones) and merely dabbed with gravy. Nope, drown it!
Biscuits and gravy (biscuits adapted from allrecipes, gravy from folklore)
2 c flour +more for dusting
1 TB white sugar
1 TB baking powder
1 tsp salt
1/3 c butter
1 c buttermilk
Preheat oven to 425. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder, and salt, then cut in the butter until crumbly. Slowly stir in the milk until it’s doughy and pulls away from side of bowl.
Turn dough onto a floured surface and knead (they say 15-20 times; 10 is fine) lightly, then roll out to 1 inch thickness and cut rounds with a glass dipped in flour. Place on an ungreased baking sheet, and bake 13-15 minutes.
1 lb sausage (I’ve enjoyed Jimmy Dean’s maple as well as hot, and I hear good things about sage)
2 TB flour
3 c milk
Brown the sausage in a large saucepan or medium sized pot over medium heat, crumbling/breaking it up into chunks using a wooden spoon. Sprinkle with the flour and mix well until flour is browned, then pour in the milk. Turn up the heat and bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then lower heat and let simmer until thick/coats the spoon. Stir in lots of fresh ground black pepper (like 2 tsp or more). Serve on the biscuits, which should be done by now!