Saturday, April 11, 2009

Going Hog Wild Over Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

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
1C buttermilk

- 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.

Blazing Hot Wok


Anonymous said...

Mmmmmm. And if it's a contest, you should win. (But good lord girl, at your house it's always like eating a pre-war Tara.)

Trish said...

omg, the cruelness of this post during Passover! ;-)

I know what I'm making the first morning after Passover is over!!!!!

I think I know why it is we get along---you feed people the way I do...if anyone leaves hungry it is their own damn fault! yuuuuum!

Amy said...

MMM! I'm looking forward to trying your gravy recipe. This dish was a constant for me growing up, but my mom's gravy is a little grease heavy for me. I still ate bowls of it. :)

Anonymous said...

AH, not a contest, but it's a great way to get me to try new things.

Trish, Ha! Yea, I guess leavened bread and hog fat is not exactly keeping Kosher.

Amy, Where did you grow up? My one regret was that the sausage wasn't greasier. They're making it too d*** lean these days. I may have to throw in a little bacon fat next time.

Susan C said...

Oops - That unitentionally anonymous comment was left by me.

Amy said...

I grew up in Southern Ohio. :) I ate a lot of greasy, fried, and invariably delicious meals.

Barbara Fleeman said...

What kind of sausage did you use? I'll have to make this for Mike and Scott -- they'll love it!

Barbara (now) 1of6

Susan C said...

Amy, you're from the same neck of the woods. I grew up in West Virginia, just a stone's throw away from Ohio.

Barbara, Von's is having a special on the Jimmy Dean ground sausage. Buy one 16 oz. package and get the second one for free. I picked the spicy version.

And, yes, it turns out I know six Barbaras. Three of those are commenters, and three are not. You are the youngest of the Barbaras.

Laurie Allee said...

Sounds like so much fun!

Trish said...

Susan---a little oleo or bacon fat should help with the grease factor...not that I'd know...oh hell, my rabbi isn't reading this...Costco had some GREAT sausages with enough fat to make it worthwhile. For smaller batches, have you tried Farmer Johns? More than enough fat for us, but our diets are pretty lean these days.

and all I can think of is "Barbara Ann" from the Beach Boys. ;-) You are also one of many a Susan we know of about the same age, or Linda...including one gal who is Linda Susie...

only a few more days until I will enjoy some biscuits and gravyyyyyyyyyy!

Susan C said...

Laurie, it really was a lot of fun.

Thanks a lot, Trish. Now I can't get Bar, Bar, Bar out of my brain, brain, brain.

You know a Linda Susie? That's so funny because my REAL name is Linda Sue.

Anonymous said...

At first I thought you had drizzled gravy over the strawberries and all I could think was "what kinda holler did you grow up in?"
Those biscuits...bliss on the hips

Susan C said...

PA, Ha! I thought the same thing when I saw my guest's plate. Hey we folks from Catfish Holler put gravy on everything. I made another batch of sausage gravy this morning, just so I could take my Peeps for a dip.

Mary-Laure said...

Strawberries! It's spring to me.

Desiree said...

I am SO excited by the recipe!
Can't wait to try the biscuits one slow and lazy morning--

Piper Robert said...

Use Hodgson Mill flour for the best biscuits. BTW,use buttermilk.

If you can't find Hodgson Mill out there, I'll mail you some.
It's a must have for biscuits.

Next time, serve some potato cakes like Grandma used to make.

Finish it off with warm rhubarb pie.

Susan C said...

Mary Laure - Oh, yes! Fresh strawberries from the local Farmers Market definitely one of my favorites signs of spring.

Desiree, I still had an extra pound of sausage in the fridge, so I got up on Sunday morning and made another repeat batch of biscuits and gravy. Even better the second time around.

Robert, Buttermilk is a must. I haven't tried that kind of flour. I've always wondered if the type of flour would make that much of a difference.

pasadenapio said...

I'm going to be in Memphis next week and fully expect to have biscuits and gravy at some point!

Susan C said...

PIO, and in Memphis, in honor of The King, they probably thrown in a few pieces of greasy bacon. Have fun in Memphis.

Joanne said...

As an American, I am ashamed to say I have never had sausage gravy. Now I will truly have to try it. Looks great!

dp said...

Well shoot! I wish someone would invite me over for biscuits and gravy. It looks scrumptious. And very American.

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