Social Distancing Brunch: Biscuits and Gravy

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I love brunch. It’s not just me: I’m pretty sure that most people here in Milwaukee love brunch. Joe and I have traveled together a fair amount and nowhere does Bloody Marys the way Wisconsin does. Nobody gets that hangover food just right the way we do. Of course, you don’t have to be hungover to enjoy brunch (although if you’re in Wisconsin, you probably are.) Biscuits and gravy are known for being a Southern dish, but you can find them on many breakfast menus outside the South, as well. It is one of my favorite breakfast foods and also a good option for Joe, who doesn’t like eggs.

I’ve been wanting to learn to make biscuits and gravy for a long time, and finally took the opportunity last weekend when I decided to drop off box filled with homemade Bloody Mary mix, biscuits, and gravy on my friend’s porch, then meet up for a video chat online and share brunch from our respective dining room tables.  It was my first attempt making biscuits and gravy, but I was very pleased with the results – I would even say it was better than some that I have had at restaurants! I will definitely be making this again.

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Biscuits and Sausage Gravy – adapted from Cook’s Country

Serves 6

BISCUITS:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter,
cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into 1/2-inch pieces and chilled
1 ¼ cups buttermilk *

SAUSAGE GRAVY
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon ground fennel seed
1 teaspoon ground sage
1 ½ teaspoons pepper
1 ½ pounds bulk pork sausage**
3 cups whole milk
Salt

* If you don’t have buttermilk on hand, whisk 1 tablespoon of lemon juice into 1 1/4 cups of milk and let it stand until slightly thickened, about 10 minutes.
** This was slightly too meat-heavy for Joe and I who are not big meat-eaters. I will probably decrease this to 1 lb sausage the next time.

INSTRUCTIONS

For the biscuits: Adjust oven rack to middle position and heat oven to 450 degrees. Line baking sheet with parchment paper. Pulse flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter, and shortening in food processor until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer to large bowl. Stir in buttermilk until combined.

On lightly floured surface, knead dough until smooth, 8 to 10 kneads. Pat dough into 9-inch circle, about 3/4 inch thick. Using 3-inch biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out rounds of dough (stamp, don’t twist the cutter) and arrange on prepared baking sheet. Gather remaining dough, pat into 3/4-inch-thick circle, and cut out remaining biscuits. (You should have 8 biscuits in total.)***

Bake until biscuits begin to rise, about 5 minutes, then rotate pan and reduce oven temperature to 400 degrees. Bake until golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes, then transfer to wire rack and let cool.

*** I found that this recipe made a very sticky dough that I was unable to really knead or cut – I dropped the batter onto my lined baking sheet in 8 roughly even blobs. They tasted delicious.

For the sausage gravy: Combine flour, fennel, sage, and pepper in small bowl. Cook sausage in large nonstick skillet over medium heat, breaking up meat with wooden spoon, until no longer pink, about 8 minutes. Sprinkle flour mixture over sausage and cook, stirring constantly, until flour has been absorbed, about 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk and simmer until sauce has thickened, about 5 minutes. Season with salt. Serve over split biscuits. (Biscuits can be stored in zipper-lock bag for 2 days.)

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