Biscuits and Gravy

I’ve lived in New England my whole life, but my grandparents retired to Chapel Hill, North Carolina when I was very young, and an aunt and an uncle moved down south with their families soon after, so while I’m not from the South, that side of the family is pretty firmly transplanted there, and we’ve adopted some of their food traditions. Biscuits and gravy is definitely my favorite, and, in my opinion, not enough Northerners have been won over to its deliciousness. What I’m giving you here is more of a method than a recipe per se, but I hope you give it a try, and add it to your weekend breakfast repertoire.

1. Make your favorite biscuits. You can try these Sourdough Discard Biscuits, but any good, plain, savory biscuit will do. This post is more about the gravy part, anyway.

2. Brown 1 lb. bulk breakfast sausage over medium-high heat, breaking it up with a spoon as you go. If nobody has bulk sausage, you can peel the skins off some raw links instead.

3. Turn the heat down to medium, and add a few spoonfuls of flour, enough to trap all the fat the sausage has released. So, add the flour, stir, and if there’s still some grease in the pan, add more flour until it’s dry.

4. Now, you’re basically just making a bechamel sauce at this point, although, since it’s a more ad hoc version it’s called sawmill gravy instead. Okay, so if you’re a super organized person, what you might do is, while the sausage is browning, heat up a pot of milk just to a simmer. It is generally a little easier to incorporate hot liquids into the gravy, but it’s the morning, I don’t want to have to think ahead, so I just add a little cold milk to the pan and wait until it heats up before I start stirring it. In my experience that works just as well as the other way, so I say go for it. Anyway, add a little milk, wait for it to heat up, stir until you have an even paste, with all the flour incorporated and no weird lumps — there’s sausage, and that’s going to be lumpy, but no flour lumps — and then just keep repeating until the gravy is the thickness you like.

5. Taste it and season it. This step really depends on the sausage and what it’s got going on, but I generally find myself adding sage, thyme, salt, pepper, maybe some cayenne or hot sauce, maybe some nutmeg. If it tastes floury at this point, just cook it a little longer. If it gets too thick, you can add more milk. You can also change it up by using broth, cream, buttermilk, some water if you have to. Make a New England-y version by adding cider and maple syrup, I don’t know.

6. Split the biscuits in half, put some gravy on top, done.

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