One of my all-time favorite “comfort” breakfast meals has to be Biscuits smothered in Sausage Gravy with Sausage Patties and Fluffy Scrambled Eggs on the side. If I’m feeling particularly famished, shredded potatoes and onions are also a welcome supporting role to the main star – the Biscuits and Gravy.
Whenever we go out for breakfast, I always survey the establishment. If there are country-folk in the kitchen, you can pretty much bet the Biscuits and Gravy will be delicious. The fancier the establishment, the further from down-home cooking you are likely to get. That is not to say fancy places can’t cook simple foods well or that a truck stop cook can’t whip up a plate of scrumptious Egg Asparagus Milanese & French Popovers. But the truth of the matter is that fancy is fancy and simple is simple – their respective specialties are geared to the desires of their patrons. Would you walk into a Chinese Restaurant and order a taco? Probably not.
Hubby and Kiddo aren’t the fans of Biscuits and Gravy the same way I am. At home, Hubby prefers fried eggs and toast. Eating out and it’s a big stack of pancakes. He could skip the breakfast meats all together (something I cannot imagine!). As for Kiddo, he’s an omelette-man all the way, be it at home or in a restaurant. And the more “stuff” in the omelette, the better.
Needless to say, we don’t have Biscuits and Gravy at home very often. For one thing, it can be a pain to make – timing is everything. The biscuits MUST be timed to finish baking at the same time as the gravy has reached perfection and the eggs are ready to serve. Finish the biscuits too soon and you either have cold biscuits or hard biscuits (held in the oven too long). If the gravy sits too long, it becomes far too thick if allowed to simmer, or too cold. And eggs – don’t get me started on eggs. One minute too long over the heat of the stove and you end up with over-cooked eggs. And yes, I am Picky About My Eggs. Another reason I don’t make Biscuits and Gravy at home very often is that I had yet to perfect the key component – the Gravy. You would think growing up in a heavily Southern influenced kitchen, that gravy would be second nature to me. It’s not. The truth of the matter is, why bother with learning to make gravy from scratch when it’s so convenient and oh so much easier to tear open a dry gravy mix or pop open a jar. A little “doctoring” and you’ve got home-made gravy, although be it not completely from scratch.
This morning, it was my turn to pick the breakfast. Biscuits and Gravy seemed the logical choice on a damp and chilly December morning. Piping hot, filling and down-home good. Typically, when I make mine, I use Jimmy Dean’s Gravy Mix, prepared with a bit more milk, and crumbled sausage added. After all, I’ve got my hands full with the biscuits, so the less to fret over, the better. One problem, we didn’t have a package of Country Gravy Mix in the pantry. (Recently Hubby and I cleaned out the pantry, tossing things that were beyond their expiration point and vowing not to buy anything just to have on hand or because it was a good buy). Having the pantry better organized is great – I can actually find things without having to pile a bunch of stuff on the table to get to what I need. Now that we are shopping on an as-need bases, whim cooking isn’t happening. I hadn’t “planned” to make Biscuits and Gravy, so the mix wasn’t there. I am glad. Not having a packaged gravy on hand meant I had two choices – forgo my pick for breakfast or figure out how to make an awesome, flavorful sausage gravy from scratch.
Not only did I figure it out, but my guys actually let me know how much they liked the gravy. Hubby knew I had made it from scratch, Kiddo didn’t – he just wanted to know what I had done differently because the gravy was “way better.” Adding the Sausage Drippings from the patty pan made all the difference in the world between a gravy that was “okay” and a gravy that was out of this world good.
Old Fashion Country Sausage Gravy
1 lb Sausage (Jimmy Dean Regular), divided
4 Tablespoons Butter
3 Tablespoons Wondra Flour
1 1/4 Cups Milk
Sausage Drippings (a must!)
Salt to taste
Pepper to taste
Divide sausage in half. Crumble half of the sausage in a non-stick skillet over medium heat. Divide remaining half into sausage balls. (Three large or six small). Lightly oil hand, roll each piece of sausage into a ball and flatten in the palm of your hand. Place sausage patties into a cold skillet, add about 2 tablespoons of water, cover with a domed, tight fitting lid and cook sausage over medium-low heat.
Brown crumbled sausage over medium heat, using a flat wooden spoon to break up the meat into small pieces. When the sausage is cooked through, empty the meat into a bowl and set aside.
To the now empty skillet, melt butter until just beginning to bubble. Sprinkle flour over butter and cook, stirring constantly, until lightly golden. The key to any gravy or thick sauce is a well-prepared rouge. The flour must be cooked without overcooking to get rid of that “flour paste” flavor. (I like Wondra Flour for gravies and sauces because it blends so easily. Depending upon the dish, I’ve even used Wondra when a recipe calls for cornstarch as a thickening agent. No, I’m not a spokesperson for Gold Medal – but when I find something I like and it makes life a little easier, I don’t mind singing their praise).
Add milk, whisk to blend until smooth. Add crumbled sausage to the gravy and cook until nice and thick, stirring as needed, about 8 minutes. Remove from heat.
Uncover sausage patties. Pour drippings from pan into gravy. Stir to blend. (This step is a must! The flavor added to the gravy is awesome) Taste and adjust seasonings.
Spoon gravy over biscuits, muffins or toast. Serve with sausage patties on the side.