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Saturday, May 25. 2013
I happen to love biscuits and pork sausage gravy. I had a friend from Harlan, Kentucky whose Mom always made "Hot Dog Gravy" for biscuits, substituting Coke for water and substituting sliced hot dogs for sausage. That is not for me.
Yankees often do not know that you split your biscuit, then spoon a pile of the custardy stuff on top of the halves. Yum. If you don't fall asleep after, it will fuel a good day's work.
Here's a good recipe.
I cheat and use Bisquick. What about you?
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It reminds me of the time an important personage with a sense of humor visited at work, and I took him to lunch at Bob Evans, home of sausage gravy on biscuits.
We had to skirt a pool of vomit on the porch as we approached.
"Strictly speaking, we don't know whether they were going in or out at the time," I said.
In we went.
It's hard, if not impossible, to make Southern style biscuits now. It used to be that flour mills were located regionally and milled regional wheat. Southeastern wheat was a bit different - maybe more gluten? Anyway, all of the southern mills are now gone and wheat is mixed together nationally. The texture is just not the same.
...not to speak of the near impossibility of finding good lard. Of course, bacon drippings work fairly well.
I try to save every drop of bacon grease in the pan. I do what my grandmother did: collect it in a jar, refrigerate it, and when full heat the whole jar in a saucepan full of water until the grease melts & is quite hot. Then strain it through cheesecloth, refrigerate that. The texture of the strained grease is pretty close to lard smoothness and, of course, highly baconic. Mostly I use it for flavoring; I generally don't cook enough bacon to have enough on hand for making a big batch of biscuits.
One of my cousin's fried chicken was - well for me the benchmark of what it's supposed to be. Flaky but not encrusted and perfectly moist inside. One part was a fresh bird - they always had a yard full of chickens.* The other, she told me, was that she always fried the chicken in lard and tried to make sure about 1/3 of that bacon grease. Yum!!
*Also, Guinea Fowl.
My grandmother saved drippings also, but she used them to make soap for the missionaries.
Well, they wouldn't eat you --they think comedians taste funny
You can still find good biscuit flour, in the South. But you have to watch if it isn't a known brand. You want all-purpose flour with 3g of protein per serving (self rising is better). For example, King Arthur AP flour is 4 g per serving so is not the best for biscuits. If you need to cut it, you can add some cake flour or corn starch. Full cake flour would probably be to soft. Pastry flour might work better. These days they break the wheat, hard and soft, down into separate parts then remix for the various flours.
(I recently did a lot of online learning about flour as I was trying to see if I could find flour in the US that corresponded to Argentinean 0000 flour used in empanada dough. I haven't tried it yet but it looks like pastry flour is a fair match)
BTW, at Christmas, I made a German chocolate cake. I normally used half King Arthur and half cake flour but this time didn't want to buy cake flour for just two cups. So I substituted some self-rising biscuit grade flour I had. Most tender cake I've ever made. Although it did make cutting thin slices tricky. But the cake was delicious and it was Christmas so why not have a large piece.
A radio station I listened to way back when advertized Martha White as the best biscuit flour, to wit:
Now you bake right (uh-huh) with Martha White (yes, ma'am) Goodness gracious, good and light, Martha White
For the finest biscuits, cakes and pies,
Get Martha White self-rising flour
The one all purpose flour,
Martha White self-rising flour's
Got Hot Rise
Thanks for the link. I will use it for the gravy part, but not the biscuits! Who puts sugar in biscuits???
My recipe that I've used is simple and delicious:
2 cups self-rising flour
6 tablespoons butter
Use your fingers to work the butter into the self-rising flour. It can take some muscle, but don't give up until all the butter has been incorporated into the flour. You should have a few pea-sized bits in there, but no big chunks of butter. Add buttermilk a little bit at time until you have a dough that starts to stick together. If you add too much milk, just add a little more self-rising flour.
Knead a few times on a lightly floured surface (I use a roulpat for this). Don't over knead or your biscuits will be tough. Roll out the dough to about 1/2 inch thickness. Cut out biscuits with a biscuit cutter or drinking glass. Bake at 425 for 12-15 minutes.
Who could not love biscuits and sausage gravy or ham biscuits and red eye gravy?
Lard is available in any bodega if it's not at your supermarket.
Here in Alabama we wouldn't know a bodega if it snuck up and bit us. Actually, I'm an exception because years ago we had a flight with a 24 hour layover in Madrid which I frequently claimed, so I became acquainted with bodegas.
Before he died, I took my Dad on a pilgrimage from LI to Shenandoah, Nashville & Graceland. Along the way we treated ourselves to Chicken Fried Steak and Biscuits with Gravy. For my Dad, a big Country and Western fan by way of Dublin, Ireland, it was like receiving communion...
--what a sweet clear picture in such a very few words --
I do scratch biscuits now. Actually easy. I use half a tube of sausage. I used to use a full tube. The restaurant stuff does not have near enough meat. This is great stuff. My favorite home breakfast now
Bisquick is perfectly acceptable if you don't have time to make your own dough and bake the biscuits.
Down my way, we found several restaurants for breakfast that make biscuits on a regular basis so they are fresh with just that light touch of crunch top and bottom. Add in sausage gravy (I like my sausage gravy made from onion sausage which is a gastronomical delight) with couple of eggs over hard - can't beat that I'm telling you.
Occasionally, I'll order grits and a side of sausage gravy and mix them - that's pretty good too.
Sausage based milk gravy is good, but Bacon based is
heavenly! It is very simple to make.
Dice up some bacon and toss into a sauce pan. Before the
bacon becomes crispy, add flour. Keep the rue stirred with
a wisk or wooden spoon to keep it smooth. Continue cooking for a few minutes and then add milk. Season
I used to cook at a Martha Hale's Country Grill in Rubidoux
CA. Bacon based gravy was the main attraction.
Bacon gives the gravy a kind of sweetness that makes it
almost as tasty as a desert.
Scratch biscuits take just a little too much time for school/work mornings but I make them just about every weekend. Bacon drippings are essential -- although I did once try making them with goose fat left over from Christmas dinner. That's goooood.
Though I'm from the South myself I was raised in New Orleans, where there's a little lingering prejudice against redneck food. We had our biscuits with butter and bacon or ham.
That photo reminds me of a very unpopular breakfast dish served occasionally in Army mess halls in the 1950s which we called S*** on a Shingle.
The description fits the taste.
Southerners were over-represented in Army officer and non-com ranks so that would explain that execrable dish's origin.
The link has a good recipe for sausage gravy, but it need not be that complicated. Just cook 1/2 pound pork sausage, (I like hot), in skillet, when done sprinkle a tbsp of flour over it, then slowly add a cup of whole milk. Keep stirring the whole time until it reaches the consistency you like. Serve immediately over hot buttermilk biscuits. As an Uncle Sidney used to say, "This'll make you want to slap your pappy!".
I still make proper biscuits and gravy. (And whatever that hotdog gravy abomination is, I've never heard of it here in Louisville, Kentucky.) You can do it with sausage, but we tend to prefer "bacon" gravy at my house.
Recipe, such as it is: fry bacon in a cast iron skillet. While it cooks, preheat oven to a minimum of 450 degrees and start the biscuits: 2 cups all purpose flour, sifted with 4 teaspoons baking powder, a half teaspoon of baking soda, and a teaspoon of salt. Using a pastry cutter, cut in a handful (maybe half a cup's worth) of cold lard into the flour, til mixture resembles cornmeal in texture. Make a well in the flour mixture, pour in a cup of buttermilk (or soured milk, or even sweet milk if you're in a bind) and then toss in a big spoonful of sour cream. (The sour cream is insurance; it helps protect the tenderness of the crumb if you accidentally overmix.) Then, pull it together GENTLY mixing as little as possible. DO NOT USE A ROLLING PIN. Turn out onto lightly floured board, patting it flat with your hands, and cut with a floured biscuit cutter or a glass. (Those old metal cups from the fifties-sixties are ideal.) Bake biscuits 8-12 minutes in 450-500 degree oven, til tops are browned. (A hot, fast oven makes for tender biscuits.) To make the gravy- after removing bacon from skillet, sift some flour into the hot, rendered fat. You're aiming to dry out the fat almost completely with the quantity of flour you add; you want to make a paste of it, stirring quickly to avoid lumps. Brown the mixture over medium heat. (Remember, the more you brown the flour, the more flavor you'll impart to the gravy- but the more it browns the less it thickens, so a browner mixture needs more flour than a lighter, blond mixture does.) Pour in a little bit of water to keep the mixture from burning as it browns. When desired browning is reached, add milk, stir, and add salt and pepper to taste, and serve over hot biscuits.