the moveable feasts

Biscuits & Gravy

with 16 comments

waylon making homemade hashbrowns in the background

Don’t tell me you don’t like biscuits and gravy, because I wouldn’t believe you. After all, I used to think I was like you. It all started one morning after a sleepover at a friend’s house in elementary school, when my friend’s mom made biscuits and gravy for breakfast. Biscuits, as in the kind from the can that you have to bang against a counter to open up, and gravy, as in that powdery stuff from a little aluminum packet that you add to water. Now, I wasn’t actively judging the quality of food at that age, but I just didn’t like that breakfast. Not one bit. And ever since then, the words “biscuits and gravy” have repulsed me a bit.

(I hope this doesn’t mean that I was already a food-snob in the making at the age of 8. Sigh, I guess some things are a long time coming.)

gravy with pork sausage and bacon
buttermilk biscuits

Anyway, I have stubbornly clung to that repulsion and have managed to successfully live out the last 13 years of my life avoiding a bite of any and all versions of biscuits and gravy.  Everything changed last weekend, though, when I decided to make Waylon this recipe.

Waylon, so very unlike me, is not new to biscuits and gravy. He grew up on them, and he almost always orders them when we go out to a diner-like place for breakfast (which honestly is pretty much the only type of place we go to for breakfast). He loves biscuits and gravy. Yet when I told him I was going to make them for him, he responded by saying, “Okay, but I have to tell you, if I don’t like them it’s not one of those times that I’m going to keep eating and pretend that I do. Really, I can’t eat bad biscuits and gravy.”

Moving on from the fact that he said he wouldn’t “pretend” to like it (but seriously, pretend?), this made me get some doubts about how much I could succeed with this dish. Maybe it’s just one of those things best left to the professionals—or, in this case, the greasy line cooks. But he loved them. Loved them! And here’s the really surprising thing: I did too. It is salty and fatty and carby and everything good. We ate the biscuits smothered in the gravy alongside some homemade hashbrowns that Waylon made. Everything was so good, so much so that all I can say is please, make these—whether you think you like biscuits and gravy or not.

biscuits and gravy

I should note, though, that I don’t think these are the type of biscuits to make if you just want some flaky, tender biscuits to spread some butter and jam on. These are pure wonder when paired with the gravy, especially because by cooking the biscuits in a  buttered cake pan, the bottoms and tops get a salty edge to them (see aforementioned salt + fat praise). They give a waft of buttery-goodness when you pull them out of the oven, and are pillowy-soft when you break them apart for the gravy. But they would not be my pick for butter and jam (although they are of course not bad with it because c’mon, they’re biscuits). In that case I prefer a softer more delicate cream biscuit like these.

Oh! And one more thing! Just to try and convince you a little bit more, I think I need to point out how easy this all was to make. The biscuits come together in no time and with just one bowl, and the gravy cooks up in the time the biscuits are in the oven. Whole thing took no longer than 40 minutes. So no excuses.

buttermilk biscuits and gravy

One Year Ago: Pumpkin Spice Pancakes

Buttermilk Biscuits with Pork Sausage Gravy
Adapted from Saveur
Serves 6

Some important notes: First, I used salted butter here and I think you should, too. The melted butter that coats the pan the biscuits are cooked in leaves a salty, crusty taste on the bottom of the biscuits that is just too delicious to pass up. I’ve adjusted the salt content in the recipe to account for this–if you’re using unsalted butter, add about 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon more in the biscuit dough. Also, I used 2% milk in the gravy, and it was great. Whole milk would be fine too though, I’m sure. I’m guessing nonfat might be okay, but you know, why would you have nonfat milk in your fridge anyway?

Biscuits:
2 1/2 cups unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
3/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon kosher salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) salted butter, chilled and cubed, plus 2 tablespoons salted butter, melted and slightly cooled
1 1/4 cups buttermilk

Gravy:
2 slices bacon, finely chopped
6 ounces pork breakfast sausage
1/2 cup unbleached, all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 cup heavy cream
1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar
1/4 teaspoon cayenne

First, make the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 425 degrees F. Brush a 9-inch cake pan with some of the salted melted butter and set aside.

Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl to combine. Using your fingers, rub the chilled and cubed butter into the dry ingredients until the mixture resembles coarse meal and the butter is in mostly pea-sized pieces. Add the buttermilk, and gently stir together until just combined. Transfer to a floured work surface, and gently pat dough into a rectangle. Fold one side of the rectangle over on top of the other side, and pat back down so the dough is a little higher than 1-inch thick. Dip a 3″ round cutter into a bowl of flour, and cut out rounds of dough. Press scraps together, and repeat with remaining dough until you have about 6 or 7 rounds. Arrange the biscuits in the already-greased pan, and brush the tops with the remaining melted butter. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 20-25 minutes.

While the biscuits are baking, make the gravy. Over medium-high heat, cook the chopped bacon in a 4-quart saucepan, stirring occasionally, until its fat renders, about 3 minutes. Add the pork sausage and cook, breaking it into the smallest pieces you can with a wooden spoon, until browned, about 5 minutes. Add the flour and continue to stir for about another 2 minutes, or until the flour starts to smell toasted. Add the milk and cream, and bring to a boil. Once a boil is reached reduce heat to medium to bring the mixture to a simmer, and cook, stirring occasionally, until gravy is thickened, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add the vinegar, cayenne, and salt and pepper to taste–you’ll need to add about at least teaspoon of kosher salt. Stir to combine.

To serve, split warm biscuits in half, and cover (liberally) with gravy.

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Written by Amy

November 14, 2012 at 3:03 pm

16 Responses

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  1. “Why would you have nonfat milk in your fridge anyway?” — this really made me laugh. It’s how a feel about nonfat milk too. I guess I can see that if you drank 3 glasses of milk everyday, you might not want it to be full-fat, but still, nonfat milk is basically milky water.

    But milk rant aside…I’m not familiar with the idea of biscuits and gravy at all, but I am a fan of savoury breakfasts, and a gravy flavoured with bacon and sausage does sound great, so even though I’m not immediately drawn to the dish, I think I will have to give it a try. It just seems like the sort of thing that I should like. Only one way to find out, I guess…

    Katie

    November 14, 2012 at 4:16 pm

    • Milky water is right! A little fat is always much more worth it. And yes, you should find out! I think it’s not in its nature to be disliked, so I’m sure you’ll find it agreeable at least. I still don’t know if I’d be drawn to it if I were to go to a diner now, but now I know home-cooked biscuits and gravy will always win me over.

      Amy

      November 15, 2012 at 11:44 am

  2. i have never been a biscuits and gravy person either (biscuits, always yes! hold the gravy). but reading this post made my mouth water! i know my husband would love these – maybe i’ll try this weekend!

    little kitchie

    November 14, 2012 at 5:18 pm

  3. Okay, you might have convinced me. My mouth is watering!

    Abbey Davies (@abbeyasaayi)

    November 14, 2012 at 9:43 pm

  4. My brother Peter LOVES biscuits and gravy. I think he’s taken it upon himself to sample as many different versions as possible. He almost treats it like a job, scouting out new places in the hopes of flakier biscuits and creamier gravy. I’ve always left the tasting to him as I’ve always been more of an eggs & pancakes gal myself (note that I order eggs AND pancakes because pancakes, while tasty need a bit of savory). I’ve book marked this recipe to try over Christmas. I think he will love them! And my dad too – also a big biscuits and gravy guy. My mom, not so much, she sticks with her yogurt and granola. ps. love Wayne’s honesty – ha! ooo and love the photos too, so soft.

    talley

    November 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm

    • Haha, I love when people have that “thing” they always have to test out everywhere they go. For my Dad it’s clam chowder. For me, it’s the bathrooms (I know, weird). And hoorah for savory + sweet at the same time! That’s why breakfast is my favorite meal, haha. Please let me know if you make this for your brother, even though I’m a little nervous of his expert opinion. Enjoy!

      Amy

      November 15, 2012 at 11:46 am

  5. I never had biscuits and gravy before, I guess it is an American thing (?). I like the idea, though, and have been thinking about making this dish

    http://joythebaker.com/2011/11/caramelized-mushrooms-and-dumplings/

    before, which is not exactly the same thing, but sounds so good, and would probably be even better with the mushrooms and all that for a vegetarian version.
    Flaky biscuits sound too good to not try.

    Lena

    November 15, 2012 at 1:43 am

    • Yes, biscuits and gravy are most definitely an American thing. I kind of like how they make me think I’m eating a very Western cowboy breakfast. That joy the baker dish looks great, though much less cowboy and much more refined. If you make that one, I hope you post about it, because I’d love to hear how it tastes.

      Amy

      November 15, 2012 at 11:49 am

  6. The things our significant others have to endure! Haha, but seriously, I think it’s very sweet of Waylon to pretend. Chris is that way too—and then it’ll come out weeks later that he actually didn’t really like what I made. I’ll choose the temporary ignorance.

    I’ve never had biscuits and gravy before either, but these guys looks delicious. Like serious comfort food, but isn’t that what brunch is? (Chris and I love diners. We always seek them out.)

    Linda

    November 19, 2012 at 5:16 am

    • Haha, yeah I get really mad if I sense he’s lying, but I’m pretty sure I’d prefer temporary ignorance too. Then again, I think most of the time I’m overanalyzing and overthinking things, since a lot of the time he just wants to be fed and he’s not so much into the nuances of food, haha.

      Diners are so great, aren’t they? If you ever are in the mood to try them from home though, I’d give these a try! Brunch is the best.

      Amy

      November 19, 2012 at 6:43 pm

  7. Umm…yum! Never had biscuits and gravy, but there is absolutely no doubt in my mind that I would LOVE them. What’s not to love?!

    onceuponarecipe

    November 22, 2012 at 12:11 pm

  8. Well, I came across this blog several days prior to Thanksgiving and the 3 recipes I’ve tried thus far (including this one for biscuits and gravy) have been fantastic. This is the best recipe for biscuits and gravy I’ve come across, and I’m very inspired to cook as a result of your blog and my success with the recipes (Nordstrom flourless torte and the salted butter caramel sauce; tostadas de tinga and slaw). Thank you, and I can’t wait to try more!

    Monique

    November 27, 2012 at 7:24 pm

    • Monique, thanks for all of your comments and reviews. I’m happy this blog was able to inspire you, and I’m so glad you and your family liked everything. Your family sounds like mine– when something good is made, it’s gone within 24 hours. Happy cooking!

      Amy

      November 27, 2012 at 8:26 pm

  9. Found your blog while looking for a recipe for biscuits – loved the biscuits and am now a fan of your blog, too! (It was the Baracky Road ice cream that sealed the deal, really.) Can’t wait to try and make these again, but this time with that incredible-sounding gravy, too.

    hungryandfrozen

    December 2, 2012 at 7:09 pm

    • Hi, and thanks for leaving a comment! I’m glad you liked the biscuits, but yes you must try them with the gravy some other time because they are perfect for each other. I’m glad you like my blog — yours looks very cute as well!

      Amy

      December 2, 2012 at 8:19 pm

  10. The biscuits were amazing. I’m making them again in the morning!

    eplifoss

    January 7, 2013 at 9:53 pm


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