Monday, October 24, 2011

Southern Sausage Gravy & Biscuits

Hey All,

So I'm a big food guy. Nothing beats sitting down to an appetizing meal every night, but having other people enjoy my food is possibly even better. So here is something that I made last night that turned out really well. Try it and enjoy!

My roommate is from North Carolina, and there's nothing in this world that compares to down-home southern cooking. So I convinced her to show me how to make a simple, endlessly modifiable, and delicious home made sausage gravy and biscuits.


Serves 8 - And it cost me about $6 for the whole thing at NYC prices. Not bad.

 - 1/2 pound ground pork
 - 1/2 pound chopped bacon (Try and get thick cut bacon from the meat or deli section of  
    your grocery store. The thicker, the better, and it will likely be cheaper)
 - Flour (Depends on how much grease you have. Have at least a 1/2 cup on hand)
 - 1% milk (Depends on taste, have at least 2 cups on hand)
 - Salt and Pepper to taste
 - 1 pack of 8 Pillsbury Biscuits  

You'll need a good stove top skillet for this one.

Preheat your oven to the temperature that the biscuits require, then dice up or cube the bacon. Turn the heat up on the skillet to high and add the bacon to the pan once it is hot. Make sure to keep the bacon moving in the pan so that it gets good exposure to heat. Keep cooking the bacon pieces until they become golden-brown and crispy,  and have released a good deal of grease in the pan. 

Turn off the heat, and strain the bacon bits out of the pan and onto a paper towel-covered plate. Pour the grease into a metal or ceramic bowl. At this point, open up the package of biscuits, put them out on a non-stick baking sheet and throw 'em in the oven.

Turn the heat back up to medium-high and add the ground pork. Brown the pork and work it with your spatula or spoon until it flakes into small pieces. You essentially want crumbled sausage so that it becomes evenly distributed in the gravy. If not, you'll have gravy and sausage balls - a terrible waste of a great opportunity. 

Now, once browned and flaked, add back in the bacon grease and turn the heat down to medium-low. Note - At this point you can also add back in the bacon pieces, although I just kept them to use later. If you throw them back in, they'll give your gravy a bit more flavor and some crunch. 

Start to add the flour by lightly dusting the sausage/grease mixture. Dust about a tablespoon at a time, then mix it in. continue to do this until there is no more grease on the bottom of the pan.

At this point, what you'll have is a sausage roux (pronounced "roo"). A note on roux. 
Roux is among the many friends that makes a cook's life much easier. It is essentially a fat and starch paste that can be used to thicken chowders (Clam Chowder!), and as a base for many sauces and gravies. You can use butter, fat or lard, and (while I've never tried it) likely olive oil or other vegetable/seed oils. It's ultimately up to you. Just heat the oil over medium low heat and continually whisk in small amounts of flour or corn starch until it's at your desired thickness. 

For you health nuts out there, when a good roux is needed, it will make or break your dish. Trying to choke down a soupy skim milk clam chowder, for instance, is a terrifying experience. If you want to make something, make it right.

Back to the gravy. The flour and fat will be "trapped" in the sausage. Start adding some milk and stir the mixture until it starts to thicken. It will surprise you how quickly this turns into play-dough. Keep adding milk a quarter cup at a time and keep stirring, each time it will thin a bit. Continue this process until you have your desired consistency - remember, the gravy will thicken significantly when it starts to cool. Add the salt and pepper and stir in. I like my gravy with a little kick, so I added about two tablespoons, maybe more. Depends on your personal preference.

Take the biscuits out, and there you have it! Homemade sausage gravy and fresh baked biscuits. Pour the gravy over them, dip them in the gravy - eat it however you want and it will all taste great.

I lucked out and my roommate also had her grandma's home made strawberry jam on hand. Hells ya. Polish it all off with a glass of milk or OJ, and you have yourself a Cracker Barrel classic.