Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Usually I like Christmas morning breakfast to be something sweet and something I wouldn’t likely make often (or at all) during the year.  My family has a dish that’s between a casserole and a quiche that has only made an appearance at Christmas and a few other special occasions, and it’s to die for.  In years past, I’ve also made an easy pastry with crescent rolls and almond paste that could easily double as a dessert (hey, it’s a holiday- eat dessert first, right?).  This year I changed it up a little and made biscuits with sausage gravy, so much more comforting and classic (and not at all like dessert).

It seems that everyone I know who ever makes sausage gravy has their own way of doing it, and of course their way is the best way.  In a lot of cases, they learned from their grandmother, who learned from their grandmother.  I can safely say none of my grandmothers ever once made sausage gravy in my presence.  After putting in some research time, it seems there is some disagreement among sausage gravy enthusiasts as to whether one should make a roux by adding flour to the sausage drippings or leave the browned sausage in the skillet with the drippings.  I’ve done it both ways and I prefer removing the browned sausage and adding the flour to just the drippings to make a roux.  I find that the gravy thickens up better that way, but I admit that could be all in my head as it does thicken up fine with the sausage still in the skillet with the drippings.  I’ve also gone through many a biscuit recipe to find a biscuit that isn’t hard and dry.  I like to use all butter, though you could use a mixture of vegetable shortening and butter as long as it all adds up to 8 Tablespoons.  When cutting in the butter (or shortening), work quickly- the key to light biscuits is minimal handling and keeping the fats from melting during mixing.  These biscuits hold up really well to the gravy as well, they don’t get soggy and provide a nice contrast in texture.

biscuits and sausage gravy

Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Ingredients:

for the biscuits:

  • 2 ½ C. self-rising flour (plus extra for flouring your surface)
  • 2 tsp sugar
  • ½ tsp kosher salt
  • 8 Tbsp. chilled butter
  • 1 C. chilled buttermilk (plus 1-2 tbsp more, if needed)
  • 1 Tbsp. melted butter (Optional: to brush on top of biscuits after baking)

for the gravy:

  • 1 lb ground pork sausage
  • 6 Tbsp. all-purpose flour
  • 4 C. whole milk
  • ½ tsp ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp. ground black peper
  • 1-2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce

Directions:

Preheat oven to 450 degrees.

Prepare a floured surface for shaping the biscuit dough and have an ungreased baking sheet lined with silicone baking mats or parchment paper ready.

Whisk together the flour, sugar and salt in a medium-sized bowl.

Using a fork or a pastry blender quickly cut in the butter, the mixture should be crumbly.

Make a well in the flour mixture, and pour in the buttermilk.

Stir with a spoon and mix just until the liquid is absorbed and the dough comes away from the sides of the bowl. Add 1-2 tbsp more buttermilk if the dough is dry.

Do not over mix-  the dough will be tacky, neither wet nor dry.

With lightly floured hands, turn out the dough onto a lightly-floured surface and gently fold it over on itself 2 or 3 times.

Shape into a 3/4” thick round using floured hands or a floured rolling pin.

Using a 2-inch biscuit cutter, cut out the biscuits, dipping the cutter in flour in between cuttings to keep the dough from sticking.

Press straight down and do not twist the cutter in the dough as this keeps the biscuits from rising.

Place biscuits on the baking sheet so that they just touch (for crunchy sides, leave space in between).

Reshape scrap dough and continue cutting, remembering to handle the dough as little as possible.

Bake for 15-18 minutes or until lightly golden brown on top.

Turn the baking sheet around halfway through baking.

Optional: Brush the tops of the biscuits with melted butter.

To make the sausage gravy, heat a 4 quart saucepan over medium-high heat.

Crumble the sausage into the pan and let it brown for 1-2 minutes, then reduce the heat to medium.

Cook the sausage, breaking up the sausage with a wooden spoon or a potato masher until no pink remains.

Remove the sausage from the skillet with a slotted spoon, leaving the drippings in the pan.

If you have less than 3 Tbsp. of drippings, add some butter or bacon grease to equal 3 Tbsp. of drippings.

Sprinkle the flour over the drippings and whisk over medium heat for 2-3 minutes.

Stir in the nutmeg, salt and pepper and whisk for an additional minute.

Add the milk to the skillet, whisking constantly.

Cook the milk mixture over medium heat, stirring occasionally, for about 15 minutes, until thickened.

Add the cooked sausage back into the skillet and cook, stirring, until the mixture is heated through.

Split the biscuits in half and top with sausage gravy.

Makes 10-12 servings

Source: adapted from Simply Recipes

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