Upscale, downscale: Strawberries drizzled with lemon curd and biscuits smothered in sausage gravy.
I love to have friends over. ("Entertain" sounds so pretentious.)
Sometimes I invite groups of friends who all know one another. Other times I try to mix up my friends. When I do this, human nature invariably kicks in, and people gravitate to people they already know. The party then seems more like a tossed salad than a well mixed drink.
This time, I put no thought whatsoever into the guest list; I let the guests invite themselves. A dozen friends answered my blog and Facebook calls for company to share biscuits and sausage gravy. I stood back and watched as this diverse group of friends blended better than Makers Mark in a Perfect Manhattan.
Why did we all feel so connected? Our common thread was a desire to pig out on biscuits and sausage gravy on a Saturday morning. We all speculated about the qualities of folks who love a heavy dose of carbs and fat in the morning: down-to-earth, hearty, warm, highly intelligent . . . modest.
I've baked plenty of biscuits in my lifetime, but this time I decided to try Margaret's flaky, buttery biscuits that she adapted from Julia Child's Baking with Julia. Margaret uses butter instead of shortening and buttermilk instead of milk. I like both substitutions.
The Julia & Margaret Biscuit
2 C flour
1 T baking powder
1 t salt
1/3 C butter
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- Mix the dry ingredients.
- Add the butter and smush it into the dry ingredients with your fingers until the whole mess resembles cornmeal, although it’s fine to have a few bigger pieces of butter sticking out.
- Add the buttermilk and mix with a fork. It will be wet and messy.
- Turn onto a floured cloth and knead — and this is the secret — knead only ten times. You will want to keep kneading, but you must resist that urge.
- Roll out or pound out with the heel of your hand and cut into rounds.
Bake for 12 to 15 minutes at 425 degrees.
(My biscuits weren't as good as Margaret's. I wonder why?)
***This was my first time making sausage gravy. I started out following the instructions for Frank's Famous Sausage Gravy, but immediately discovered a fatal flaw. The recipe called for one cup of flour and one cup of milk. I think Frank's recipe must be famous because it looks like wallpaper paste, not because it's flavorful.
I did some major revisions to come up with Susan's now famous sausage gravy.
Susan's Super Sausage Gravy
1 lb. ground sausage
1/2 c. flour
2 c. half and half and 1 c. milk (or any combination of cream or milk)
salt and pepper to taste hot pepper sauce to taste
- Brown and crumble the sausage in a large skillet.
- Coat the cooked sausage in 2/3 c. flour.
- Begin gradually adding the milk (or cream) and stirring until it reaches the consistency you like.
- Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce.
- Serve over biscuits.
- Walk around the Rose Bowl six times (or more to suit your taste). Or, if you prefer, fall asleep while watching reruns of Saved By the Bell.
I was a little nervous about how this was going to come out, but we devoured every one of the three batches of biscuits and the gravy. As a matter of fact, I asked a guest to pass the gravy, but none was left. So I did what every hearty, down-to-earth Southern gal does: I cleaned the sides of the bowl with the biscuit.
(I'm submitting this recipe to Blazing Hot Wok's Regional American Food Roundup for April.) This month's roundup is being hosted by Eating Club Vancouver.