I am not a Southerner.
Without this geographical pedigree, I was intimidated at the idea of making from-scratch buttermilk biscuits and gravy.
I order them when I see them on menus – and Sassafras [owned and run by Southerners], here in Denver, has an especially delicious iteration.
As Fall came, along with colder temperatures, I found myself craving this dish on a recent Sunday morning.
I just had to push through the fear and get myself into the kitchen.
2 c flour
1 T baking powder
1 t sugar
1/2 c melted butter
1 c buttermilk
1/2 t salt
Note: Pepper optional if you want a spicier biscuit; really you can add most any other spice you like: for a sweeter biscuit, cinnamon would be great, as would nutmeg – and for a more savory version, sage or rosemary.
Combine + use biscuit method most comfortable for you: either roll out and cut, or do like I do, and pinch off a golf ball size piece, roll in hand [sprayed with cooking spray to avoid sticking], flatten with palm and place, touching, on baking sheet. 450* / 15-20m
It’s funny now to think how much the thought of making homemade gravy intimidated me, because I came to learn, like béchamel, it is one of the easiest things in the world.
7 T flour
5 c whole or 2% milk [1% or nonfat, not substantial enough]
1 T bourbon smoked – or plain smoked – paprika*
1/2 t salt
Lots of pepper
Note: I realize ‘lots’ isn’t a technical term, but to me, the pepperier [also not a technical term] the gravy, the better; even if you do a sweeter biscuit, the sweet and savory combination would be fantastic; this, also like béchamel can be bland, so yes, season to taste, but err on the side of more to amp up flavor.
Stir together, adding 1 T of flour at a time to incorporate and lessen likelihood of clumps. Bring to rolling boil; you won’t know how thick the gravy is until it comes to a boil. If it’s thicker than you prefer, you can always add more milk to get it to your preferred consistency.
The traditional gravy is sausage, but I wanted to create a veg version as well, so I cooked the gravy first, then divided it into two bowls, adding roasted mushrooms [425* / 10m] to one, and cooked breakfast sausage, cut on the bias [bias = pretty], to the other.
Sausage gives it serious flavor – and I’m convinced ground sausage would be an even better way to go, since the links don’t infuse the gravy as ground would – but I also liked the roasted mushrooms.
I’d liberally seasoned the mushrooms with salt and pepper; it’s my feeling that roasting vegetables is the very best way to prepare them, and extracts the most wonderful flavor.
This recipe makes enough for 12 biscuits + gravy.
While you’re at it, you could always double the gravy recipe so you have it on hand for later in the week to put on top of toast, or add to egg noodles for dinner.
When I asked chef and food-loving friends what they like to add to their gravy:
John DePierro, exec chef at Bones in Denver, said when he’s feeling frisky, ghost pepper salt from Denver’s own Savory Spice Shop.
*Charles Buscemi said smoked paprika and I’m glad he didn’t say plain paprika; the smokiness gives this gravy excitement.
Jess Ryan said chile pepper flakes, and occasionally vanilla, and/or maple syrup to bring out the sausage flavor [I think the vanilla and maple syrup ideas are genius].
Glen Glen said garlic salt.
So, there you have it – all kinds of possibilities!