Monday, June 17, 2013

My Favorite Biscuits and Gravy Recipe

It's Monday evening again, and in our house that means something special for dinner and snuggling on the couch for some TV (we call it "Cuddle Monday"). It's therefore my job tonight to find something easy, cheap and delicious to feed my family. And so my friends, I give you... biscuits and gravy! Terrible for you? Well, yes. But cheap and yummy? Absolutely! And I've found a recipe that is so simple that I can make it start to finish in 20 minutes, with a baby on my hip, and blindfolded. (Although for safety reasons, I'd advise against the blindfold.)

I may not have been raised on this stuff, but I take my biscuits and gravy very seriously. My mother-in-law is a fabulous cook and my husband is super picky about certain things that she used to make him, sausage gravy topping the list. And so as a new wife on a mission, I set out some years ago to find the perfect recipe that would do the trick. After a few failed attempts, I found the ONE. It's simple and easy, just as a recipe like this should be- and just like Mom used to make!

To make the white sausage gravy, start with 1 pound bulk sausage (I like Jimmy Dean Original), flour, milk and pepper. 

Cook the sausage in a saucepan over medium-high heat until evenly cooked. I like to use a fork to make sure it's well crumpled. And whatever you do, DON'T DRAIN THE FAT! You'll need all of that flavorful goodness to make a roux to thicken the gravy. And really, it's already not exactly the healthiest meal in the world, so what's a little extra fat going to hurt?

After the sausage is cooked, dump in 1/3 cup flour...

And mix it up until the sausage is evenly coated. I know that sounds a bit crazy, but in my experience, if you add the flour in this way it keeps you from having chunks of flour in your gravy later on.

Add 3 cups of milk to the sausage/flour mix. I used 2% today, but in the past I've used whole, 1%, even skim. I've found it doesn't matter too much- heck, even my picky husband has never known the difference (or at least hasn't told me)!

Once you've mixed in your milk, add pepper to taste. I like a big ol' honking pile of it! (Ok, that's maybe a heaping teaspoon, but you get the picture...)

Continue to cook over medium-high heat until a few bubbles begin to show up. Then reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 2 minutes, stirring occasionally, until your gravy is thick and glorious.

Next, onto the biscuits, my favorite part of the biscuits and gravy equation. I have loved many biscuits in my time, but in my experience nothing beats those of the buttermilk variety. They're so tender and fluffy, and the perfect vehicle for some creamy, sausage-y goodness. 

But if you're like me, you ALWAYS forget to grab buttermilk at the store. Not to fret! Because this is my favorite recipe, and I've proven myself to pretty much be incapable of remembering the darn buttermilk, I've provided the substitute right here:

All you need is a 1 1/4 cup milk and a heaping tablespoon of white vinegar. That's it! Stir those puppies together, wait five minutes and...

When it looks gross and curdled like this, you have buttermilk! Easy peasy.

Have you seen this amazing stuff before? I bought it at Walmart on a whim and it's fantastic! We don't have anything like it in California (at least that I've seen), but I may have to order a few cases before I head home this fall. So far I've made biscuits, pancakes, and cobbler with it and it's delicious every time. There's even little flakes of what looks like butter in it- fascinating! I once considered myself a die-hard Bisquick girl, but this stuff definitely has me converted! 

Anyhoo, combine 3 1/4 cups biscuit mix with your liquids until just combined.

Be careful not to overmix! Too much of that and you'll end up with a very tough end product.

Turn dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a rectangle about 1/2 thick.

I like to divide my biscuit dough into equal portions, but you could of course use a cookie cutter if you prefer. 

And place on a greased or parchment-lined baking pan. Bake at 450 for about 7 minutes. 

Then (this is completely optional, but it IS Cuddle Monday after all), melt 2 tablespoons of butter and drizzle over the tops of your biscuits. Return to oven for about 5 minutes until golden brown. 

Here's the end product. So, so good. 

                                                                   Happy Monday!!!

 Simple Biscuits and Gravy
Makes 6 generous portions

Sausage Gravy:
1 pound bulk sausage (like Jimmy Dean)    3 cups milk
1/3 cup flour                                                pepper to taste

Crumble and cook sausage in a large skillet over medium-high heat until browned. Stir in flour until dissolved and add milk. Cook until it just starts to bubble. Then reduce heat and let simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened, about 2 minutes. Season to taste with pepper.

Buttermilk Biscuits:
3 1/4 cups Complete Southern Biscuit Mix
1 1/4 cup buttermilk, or substitute***

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Gently mix together dry mix and buttermilk until just combined. Turn out onto lightly floured surface and pat or roll dough to a 1/2 thickness. Cut into equal portions (or use cookie cutter), and place on a greased or parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for 10-12 minutes. If desired, you may also pull biscuits out of the oven a few minutes early, drizzle with melted butter, then return to the oven to finish baking and are golden brown. Serve hot with sausage gravy.

***Buttermilk Substitute:
1 1/4 milk
1 heaping tablespoon white vinegar

Mix together milk and vinegar. Let sit for at least 5 minutes, until the milk is lumpy and curdled. Use as directed for buttermilk.

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