When we go back to Pennsylvania to visit T’s family, there are a few things I look forward to (aside from seeing his family, of course): real soft pretzels, scrapple (yes, really), and his dad’s biscuits and gravy. When I was younger, I went through this phase where I always ordered chicken fried steak when we went out for breakfast. Some places have really good ones, others have okay ones, and sometimes you find a really bad one where the coating is soggy and the gravy is inedible. I learned that sausage gravy varies immensely from kitchen to kitchen and after a while I gave up trying to pinpoint who makes a good gravy. I don’t like sausage gravy that’s too thick, too congealed, too salty, too pasty, too gloppy, too peppered, etc. I’ve come to be picky about sausage gravy, which is probably why I haven’t ordered it in a long time. But T’s dad makes an awesome one, and when he makes it there’s a huge pot of the stuff to pour over fresh biscuits (Pillsbury, but fresh nonetheless). It’s so good, you want to lick the bowl afterwards.
I’ve made many things for breakfast at home – crepes, Dutch pancakes, stuffed french toast, quiche, cinnamon rolls, huevos rancheros – but never biscuits and gravy. I don’t know why. Maybe I was scared I’d turn out a gloppy, pasty mess. But then I got a craving for it. A sausagey gravy, sweet with onions, a dash (just a dash!) of pepper, and fresh hot biscuits. Coincidentally, I had just seen a recipe for sausage gravy in Cook’s Country magazine (which I love more than Cook’s Illustrated). I’d also just read about biscuits on the King Arthur blog. And breakfast sausage was on sale at Vons. It was like the universe was trying to tell me something.
One thing I noticed about the Cook’s gravy recipe was that it called for a pound of sausage. I guess that’s good if you get your sausage from a butcher or by the pound, but I was working with the roll of Jimmy Dean sausage, which is only 12 oz. I also used the reduced fat sausage and 2% milk instead of whole, and it all turned out delicious. So, know that you can make this dish a teensy bit “healthier” and nothing will be sacrificed. I don’t know that I’d try it with turkey sausage or veggie sausage, although if anyone does I’d be curious to hear how it went. I ended up combining a few sausage gravy recipes, adding onion, and then tweaking it to account for the fact that I only used 12 oz of sausage. I did use the cream biscuit recipe from King Arthur and they were tender but small and flat. However, this was totally due to my rolling the dough too thin and using a tiny biscuit cutter, not the fault of the recipe.
I was really happy with the way my biscuits and gravy turned out, except I kept calling it sausage and gravy. Or sausage and biscuits. For the life of me, I could not get the phrase “biscuits and gravy” out of my mouth all morning. T also enjoyed our morning breakfast, which made me happy. It totally satisfied my craving and didn’t even take too long to pull together.
1 12-oz roll Jimmy Dean sausage (the reduced fat kind works great here)
1 small onion, chopped (or half of a large onion)
1/4 c. flour
2 c. milk (I used 2% and didn’t notice a thing)
salt and pepper to taste
1. Brown the sausage in a deep skillet (it doesn’t have to be nonstick as you’ll scrape up the bits when you add the milk). Break up the sausage as you go so you get nice crumbles that aren’t too big. When half the sausage is no longer pink, add the onions. The sausage will have rendered just enough fat to cook the onions in.
2. Once the onions are translucent, sprinkle in the flour and stir to combine.
3. Slowly pour in the milk and bring the gravy to a slow simmer. Add salt and pepper to your preferences and simmer away until the gravy has thickened to your liking.
4. Split your hot biscuits and pour the gravy over them. Enjoy!