Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Biscuits and Gravy…It’s all about the technique!

So biscuits and gravy isn’t quite a light summer dish, but my husband and I love having breakfast for dinner so this works perfectly when I’m in a hurry.  Some people have trouble making biscuits and gravy because either their gravy turns out lumpy, runny, bland, etc.  And while there are many techniques to making biscuits and gravy, I have found that this works best for me.  Hopefully you will find it helpful because this isn’t really a recipe, it’s just a more of a process.
raw biscuits
First we have to start with the biscuits.  Let me preface by saying there is NOTHING wrong with canned biscuits.  In fact, when I am in a hurry, or if they are on sale and I have a coupon I’ll snatch some up!  But these are my favorite biscuits.  Timothy says that they are better than canned and really taste homemade.  You really think I’d slave over some biscuits??  Hush your mouth!  These are what I like to call in-betweensies.  Halfway between canned, and slaving your sweaty, flour covered self off in the kitchen (sorry for the mental picture)…I mix, knead, and roll out….wait for it….Bisquick.  Yes you heard me.  Get some Bisquick, and use the recipe for cut biscuits on the box.  Trust me on this one.  And you don’t need a fancy biscuit cutter, just use a drinking glass!  Making the biscuits takes me about 5 extra minutes.  And I happen to think that 5 extra minutes is worth it.
Raw and Sage
Next we need to cook the sausage.  Biscuits and gravy don’t need to be fancy. Seriously people, it’s milk gravy and pork.  There’s not much more you can do to class it up.  But if I’m feeling frisky, I’ll put in about a half palm-full of sage.  It just adds a lot of flavor and you can buy the super cheap sausage, no one will notice.  Cook up the sausage until it looks like this…
cooking sausage
Notice how in the first picture it looks like enough sausage to feed an army? Well that’s because these pics were taken on two separate occasions.  The first in which we had friends over and I needed enough to feed three boys (my husband included) that I swear are still growing.  This last picture is from the most recent time, with one package of sausage.
After the sausage is finished cooking, use a slotted spoon to remove the sausage from the pan.  DO NOT drain the sausage.  This is the biggest mistake people make.  You lose the grease that you need to make the gravy, and lose the flavor in the process.
Once you have removed the sausage you should have about 1/4 cup of grease left.  Now here’s where it gets tricky.  Use a cheapo sausage like me and you’ll probably have about 1/4 cup of grease.  Use an expensive sausage that is very lean and you could have significantly less grease.  See what I meant when I said this recipe was hard to write??  Anywho…the key to making your gravy is you want equal parts flour and grease.  To make a tasty gravy you need to cook the flour and grease together for a few minutes so that you get rid of that chalky flour taste.  Turn the burner on medium heat and sprinkle in your flour.   Here is where you need to use your judgment.  I wouldn’t suggest dumping 1/4 flour in…just do a little at a time.  Whisk together the grease and flour and you should have a thick mixture that is bubbly.  If it is forming gigantic clumps it’s too much flour (so add some butter to even out)…if it looks like water, add some more flour.  It should stay together in the center of the pan like this, but also spread out a little on its own when you stop whisking.  Trust me, the more you make this the better you will get at it!
cooking flour2
So while you are letting your flour/grease mixture cook for about 5 minutes (not too high, we don’t want to burn it!!) dump in a ton of cracked black pepper.  You can always add more later but here is where I add mine in…again, about a half palm-full.  I think this makes a difference because it helps the pepper flavor cook into the gravy instead of just seasoning the gravy at the end.  Make sure your heat is set to medium (maybe a little lower if you are using a cast-iron skillet, those suckers retain some heat!) and start to slowly whisk in your milk.  You want to whisk while you are pouring it in so you don’t scald the milk.  The gravy will keep thickening because of the flour and you  just keep whisking in the milk and cooking it until it gets to the consistency you would like.  Again, this is a slow process.  Gravy made with love.  And grease.  Seriously is there anything better??
And it will be beautiful, and bubbly, and you can add in more pepper if you are feeling crazy.  Then stir your sausage back in and take those amazing biscuits out of the oven, break one apart (or two, or three, or even four. My growing boy would suggest stopping at 4 though, otherwise you have to move buttons on pants, and it isn’t pretty) and spoon some of your gravy over the top.  Then put your feet up and enjoy the awesomeness of this gravy.  Well worth your time in my opinion!
A few tips: Don’t add any salt until after you add the sausage back in.  Sometimes it need salt, sometimes it doesn’t.  Also I usually do things in this order and it comes out just right…Turn on the oven, cut the biscuits, cook the sausage, put biscuits in the oven, make the gravy while biscuits are cooking, stuff your face.

Biscuits and Gravy
printable recipe
yields approx. 8 biscuits and gravy

1 lb. sausage
1/4 cup flour (approx.)
cracked black pepper
salt (optional)
2 cups milk (approx.)
8 biscuits

Crumble and cook sausage in a large skillet over medium heat until browned.  Remove sausage from pan, and leave drippings.  Whisk in flour until dissolved and continue to let cook for 5 minutes.  Add in pepper to taste.  Gradually whisk in milk and cook gravy until thick and bubbly.  Stir sausage back in and season with more salt and pepper to taste.  Serve over hot biscuits.  Refrigerate leftovers.
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