It wasn’t until years into my marriage when we were visiting my parents back in the south that I made biscuits and gravy for my husband, and I’m pretty sure he felt like I’d been holding out on him all that time. I make them a little more frequently now. The biscuits are something I can give a recipe for, but the gravy… well, that’s something that’s done by feel with practice, so I can only provide guidance.
If you’re not used to making gravy and you make mistakes, it’s okay! Perfecting a cream gravy like this can take a lot of practice – I made some pretty questionable gravy when I was growing up and first learning, so don’t be hard on yourself.
If you want to do this in easy mode, use Wondra flour for the gravy. It’ll keep it from lumping.
1/2 cup unsalted butter (1 stick), frozen
2 1/2 cups self-rising flour (I prefer White Lily, or King Arthur)
1 cup cold buttermilk
2 tbsp melted butter
Preheat oven to 475. Grate your frozen butter on a box grater using the largest holes. Toss the butter and flour together in a large bowl (USE YOUR CLEAN HANDS) and put in the freezer for 10 minutes.
After those 10 minutes, make a well in the center of the bowl and pour in your buttermilk. Stir it 15 times – it will be sticky.
Turn the dough out on a lightly floured surface. I use a large cutting board so I don’t have to scrub my counters. Lightly sprinkle some flour on top of the dough. Using your hands, press the dough with your fingers into a rectangular shape about 3/4″ thick. Fold it in half, then repeat 4 more times.
Now press the dough out to around 1/2″ thick. Cut using a 2 1/2 inch biscuit cutter, reshaping the scraps to use as much as possible. If you don’t have a cutter, you can use a clean empty can or even a juice glass.
Place the dough rounds into a metal baking pan sprayed with non-stick cooking spray and ensure they are just barely touching each other. Use multiple pans if necessary. You can also use a cast iron skillet for this. Don’t use glass or ceramic – it won’t get the golden crunchy bottoms you want.
Bake at 475 degrees for 15 minutes or until golden brown. When you remove them, brush with the melted butter.
If you want to attempt gravy, what you need is 1 lb of pork breakfast sausage. Do not use Whole Foods brands or anything that doesn’t generate plenty of grease in the pan. My favorite is Tennessee Pride when I can get it (that’s what I grew up with) or Jimmy Dean Sage. Pro tip: use a cast iron skillet for this if at all possible – 10″ or a #10 (which is like 11″) if you’re using an antique one.
Brown your sausage until it’s fully cooked and you have a decent amount of grease at the bottom. This is flavor – you want to use this. Remove your sausage to a paper towel-lined bowl. Add in enough canola oil that you have something like 1/4 to 1/3 cup in your skillet (depending on the amount of gravy you want to make. Get the new mixture nice and hot at a medium heat, then add flour until you get it to a consistency that is still fluid but not liquid – when you move your whisk through the pan, it’ll leave empty lines that slowly fill themselves back in. Let the flour brown a bit – you don’t want it white, but you don’t want it burnt, so the trick it to keep your whisk moving the whole time.
Once you get it to a medium beige sort of color, add in your seasonings: this is done to personal taste. I use a lot of sage (probably a good tbsp), a 1/2 tsp of salt, and some black pepper. Keep stirring, and it’ll get aromatic. Now, turn down the temp to low, but not simmering.
Now this is the tricky part: have a lot of milk on hand and start adding small amounts, whisking the whole time. It will keep thickening and cooking off, so you’ll be doing this a while. You want to get it to where it’s got some viscosity – not too thick, but also not too thin (no one likes a watery gravy). Once you get it there, add your sausage back and stir it once more.
You can add more milk after this is if your gravy is too thick for your liking, but I like it as pictured above.
Now serve it on the biscuits, halving the biscuits and spooning the gravy on top.