Whip up a plate of comfort food. Flaky, buttery biscuits topped with creamy, sausage gravy—delicious! Food historians have differing opinions about the origin of Biscuits and Gravy, but many trace this favorite breakfast back to the late 1800s and Southern Appalachia. At that time, many working class men made a living in sawmills, and they needed a cheap, yet calorie-dense breakfast to get them through a long day.
In the late 1800s, biscuits were made of flour and water because flour was cheap. However, making biscuits with only flour and water yielded crispy, brittle results. At that time, pork was also inexpensive as it was thought to be a low-quality meat. So, cooks doused the brittle biscuits with sausage gravy, making it palatable, filling, and inexpensive for sawmill workers. I find it interesting that some southern cookbooks call this dish “Biscuits with Sawmill Gravy.”
If you need a filling, inexpensive breakfast to get you through a long day, give my recipe for Biscuits and Gravy a try. My biscuits are not crispy and brittle, but light and fluffy, and my gravy is delicious.
For the biscuits:
When making biscuits, I like freezing my butter and then grating it over the flour mixture. This makes combining it with flour so much easier and gives the biscuits a delicious, buttery flavor. If you buy buttermilk and don’t use it all, I have included tips on freezing unused buttermilk. Waste not, want not.
2 cups all-purpose flour 1 ½ tablespoons baking powder ½ teaspoon baking soda ½ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon sugar ½ cup butter, frozen 1 cup buttermilk ¼ cup butter, melted, for brushing
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. In a large bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar and whisk to blend.
Using a box grater, grate butter over the flour mixture. Using a fork or pastry blender, cut butter into the flour mixture. Make a well in the middle of the flour mixture and pour buttermilk into the well. Mix until a dough is formed.
Transfer the dough to a floured surface. Sprinkle lightly with flour if dough is sticky. Form dough into a 1-inch thick circle. Using a rolling pin, roll the dough into a ½-inch thick circle.
Using a 2-inch round biscuit or cookie cutter, cut out dough rounds and place on the baking sheet. Form dough scraps into another 1-inch thick round and roll out again, cutting out more rounds. Repeat until as much of the dough mixture is used as possible.
Using a pastry brush, brush rounds with melted butter. Bake until the biscuit tops are a light golden brown, about 12 minutes. Tips on storing biscuits: Cool biscuits completely and then place in an airtight container. Biscuits will keep for 2 days.
Tips on freezing buttermilk: Dairy products—like milk, cream, half-and-half, and buttermilk—can be frozen; however, they may become slushy, grainy, and separate when thawed. If you plan to freeze buttermilk, it will be good for baking, cooking, or smoothies. To freeze, place it in an airtight, freezer-safe container or bag. Do not fill the container or bag completely full. Milk products may expand as they freeze. If you use a bag, press as much air out of the bag as possible before freezing. You can freeze buttermilk in ice cube trays. Once the buttermilk is frozen, transfer it to a freezer bag. It is best to use frozen dairy products within 1 month. Using a black marker, label the date of freezing on the container.
For the gravy:
We like our food spicy. If you are not a fan of spicy foods, don’t add the crushed red pepper flakes or cayenne pepper. If you want a richer gravy, you can use half-and-half instead of milk. We don’t want the extra calories.
1 pound breakfast sausage ½ cup white onion, finely chopped 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour 2 cups milk ¼ teaspoon dried sage leaves ⅛ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes (optional) Dash cayenne (optional) ¼ teaspoon salt 1 teaspoon large grind black pepper In a large sauté pan, brown sausage over a medium-high heat, crumbling it into bite-size pieces with a fork. Add onion and sauté until onion is transparent and sausage has cooked through. Sprinkle flour over sausage, stirring to dissolve. Cook an additional minute, stirring constantly. Add milk and stir constantly until well combined. Add sage, red pepper flakes, cayenne, salt, and pepper and continue cooking until gravy is at desired consistency. Add more milk if necessary.
Tips on storing breakfast sausage: Ground pork is quite perishable. Use it within 1 to 2 days Carol Ann
Carol Ann Kates is the award-winning author of cookbook, Secret Recipes from the Corner Market and Grocery Shopping Secrets. She’s an expert in how to shop, select, and store produce for maximizing home cooking outcomes and minimizing time and money spent. As a former supermarket and deli operator, Carol Ann shares grocery-insider wisdom—the same expertise you used to receive when patronizing a mom-and-pop establishment. Contact her at CarolAnn@CarolAnnKates.com and explore her website, www.CarolAnnKates.com.
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