So what does a girl from Northern British Columbia know about a Southern classic like biscuits and gravy. Well, not very much until one glorious day in my early twenties when I discovered heaven on a plate. Since then I have this decadent delight whenever I cross the border. This is a truly ambivalent relationship. This meal is not for you if you are counting calories, counting carbs, watching your cholesterol or eating only whole grains. There is no redeeming nutritional value to this meal… buy that first bite of tender biscuit and rich gravy is all the redemption I need.
Biscuits have always been a part of my life. They were on the table almost as often as bread in a household that always had bread and butter on the dinner table. The baking soda biscuits were made according to my Great Grandmother’s recipe which was nothing more than an ingredient list and some proportions. Eventually, the “recipe” was committed to paper with proper measurements. It took away the guesswork but not the skill required to turn flour, lard and milk into a tender, flaky disk. My earliest attempts were just as likely to resemble hockey pucks. Fortunately, I did master the technique and serve them from time to time, most often with my Great Grandmother’s Baked Beans. Sadly, I had very little time to get this meal on the plate. Fortunately, Whole Foods makes a really good biscuit. Problem solved.
But this isn’t just about the biscuits. This is Biscuit and Gravy Week. In this context the biscuit is just a vehicle for the gravy. Just like fries are to poutine and spaghetti to bolognaise. The classic southern biscuit gravy is a cream gravy, sometimes chicken flavoured but often and best a creamy sausage gravy and that is what I decided to make today. I did take a few liberties with the tradition. I used fresh chorizo instead of a sweet sausage. I think a little spice makes everything nice… too cheesy? Okay, I think a bit of heat brightens the otherwise dense richness of the cream gravy.
I also took some liberties with the “cream” of the cream gravy. I used whole milk instead. I’m sure Paula Dean would call it pure blasphemy. I’m sure Paula’s recipe would call for heavy cream and about a pound of butter. But I think I can be excused for my lack of authenticity. I do have a formal gala coming up and I would really like a good reason to buy a new dress. And, “the old one doesn’t fit anymore” is a really good reason. So I made it a bit lighter, but the reality is there is no way to turn this into a healthy meal. So just enjoy it for what it is. It’s creamy, it’s savoury, it’s delicious.
- 1 lb sausage – I used Chorizo, but use whatever you like
- 1 onion, diced
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 tablespoons butter – this if just for flavour, if your sausages render enough fat you can omit the butter
- 4 tablespoons flour – I like the gravy on my biscuits extra thick. Reduce to 3 tablespoons if you like a thinner gravy
- 2 cups whole milk – no skimmed. You need a bit of fat.
- salt and pepper to taste
- chopped fresh herbs to your liking
Saute the onions until soft. Add the sausage and saute until cooked through. Add the garlic and saute for a minute more. Add the butter and flour and cook for at least two minutes. If you don’t cook the flour the gravy will taste like school paste. Add the milk and stir until thickened. Add salt, pepper and herbs to taste. The herbs you add will depend on the flavour of the sausage. Thyme, sage and italian parsley are all good.
Pour the gravy over toasted biscuits and enjoy.
Okay. So I added some peas. I couldn’t completely ignore the lack of nutrition. But you know, peas don’t seem so healthy when you dunk them in gravy.