Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy

Sorry folks, don’t let the title fool you. We haven’t made Biscuits and Gravy Ice Cream yet (though now it’s sounding like a challenge…). Really this post is to educate Europeans about one of America’s great breakfasts. Due to some accidental oversight in our effort to replace British English with American English, people here still think of “cookies” when I say “biscuits” and they really have no idea what sausage gravy is like either. Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy is a classic of the American diner and something every grandmother does well.

A quick back-story: For the past five weeks or so, Thibault and I have had pancakes for breakfast every day. (Actually we missed two days, but made up for them by doubling the quantity the following days…) We decided daily pancakes is a the best way to perfect the technique. It’s also a really easy and fast way to have a delicious and healthy breakfast each day. In less than 10 minutes you can have a big plate full of pancakes with maple syrup to wolf down. And they go so well with ice cream!

Anyway, I digress. Pancakes are best when made with buttermilk, as are biscuits. And since we’ve had pancakes every day for the past five weeks, the house is always well-stocked with fresh and tangy buttermilk from Longley Farm. Today we had some nice lamb sausages from the Farmers’ Market in the fridge and decided to buck the trend and make Biscuits ‘n’ Gravy instead of pancakes.

We use a great recipe for biscuits from The Bread Bible. They are fluffy and tasty and simply can’t be beat. Here’s the recipe:

Fluffy Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 1.5 cups (217g) self-raising flour
  • 3 tablespoons (37.5g) sugar
  • 1/4 teaspoon (1.6g) salt
  • 3 tablespoons (36g) cold shortening (Crisco or Cookeen)
  • 1.25 cups (302g) buttermilk
  • about another cup of plain flour
  • melted butter

Put a pizza stone or baking sheet in the middle of the oven. Preheat the oven to 475ºF (246ºC). Lightly grease a 8-inch cake pan.

Mix the self-raising flour, sugar and salt together and add the shortening bit by bit in small teaspoon-sized pieces. Press the shortening into the flour with your fingers until the lumps are really small.

Stir in the buttermilk. The dough will be soft and wet, like mashed potatoes. Leave it to sit for a few minutes an it will stiffen slightly.

Put the extra flour in a flat bowl or pan. With a large spoon, scoop out a biscuit-sized lump of dough and drop it in the flour. Sprinkle flour lightly all over it and pick it up with your hand and gently shape it while shaking off excess flour. Shape it to about 1 inch high and 2 inches wide. Carefully place each lump in the greased cake pan so they fit snugly together and support each other. This will ensure they rise up instead of sideways. Brush the melted butter on the tops of the biscuits.

Now just pop them in the oven, placing the cake pan on the hot stone or baking sheet. Turn the heat up to 500ºF (260ºC) and bake for 5 minutes. Then bring the heat back down to 475ºF (246ºC) and bake for another 10 or 15 minutes. The biscuits are ready when they’ve doubled in size and are light brown.

Let them cool in the pan for a couple minutes and then pull them apart and serve while they’re still hot.

While the biscuits are baking you’ve got just the right amount of time to make the gravy:

Sausage Gravy

Gravy is pretty easy to make, but we found a nice recipe here (I haven’t tried his biscuit recipe).

  • half pound (227g) sausages
  • 2 tablespoons (24g) butter
  • 1/2 cup (71g) plain flour
  • about 2-3 cups (470-700ml) cold milk
  • salt and pepper

Basically you cook about some sausages (about a half-pound, or 227g) in a pan until they’re cooked through and there’s plenty of grease in the pan. Remove the sausages and add a couple tablespoons of butter to the grease. Once it’s melted, turn the heat down and start sprinkling in about 4 tablespoons of flour while whisking constantly. Cook for a couple minutes and start adding cold milk very slowly, while vigourously whisking. Once it’s nice and smooth and thick, chop up the sausages and stir them into the gravy. Add salt and pepper as desired.

Serve it up!

Tear the biscuits open and pour the gravy over them and it’s ready to eat. Indulge!

Peter Gerard

Peter carried the hand-cranking ice cream tradition from his family in Missouri to Scotland and eventually to New York. He is now likely the biggest importer of White Mountain Freezers to Europe, having imported more than a dozen machines...

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5 Responses

  1. Ma says:

    Well, those biscuits & gravy look mighty tempting! And Jesus seems to be smiling just a bit, too. Maybe when I become a grandmother, I’ll learn how to make them.

  2. Big D says:

    I have to say I was initially skeptical about the concept of biscuits. It seemed like a poor version of the great British scone (of which I am an avid manufacturer and consumer). However I stood in Peter’s kitchen corrected. For those of you who have never tried biscuits I urge you to give them a go (using this recipe I might add). The best one’s I’ve tasted are a heavenly mix of tender fluffy bready interior with a crisp (but not hard) crust. They are to scones as apples to oranges.
    Now this isn’t very scientific (and I accept its risky to offer advice on a dish which isn’t even in my cultural vernacular) but the key factors to successful biscuit manufacture seem to be: 1. use hard vegetable fat – don’t substitute butter (makes them heavier) or (horror) margarine (tastes gross). 2. use butter milk not cream or yoghurt (the milk solids make the crust chewy) 3. When mixing the buttermilk and dry ingredients fold them barely enough to ensure no dry flour is left, it should appear slightly lumpy (this allows irregularities in the dough in which large pockets of steam and CO2 can collect to create the bubbles which give fluffiness) 3. Crank your oven up the the max and make sure it’s properly preheated before putting the biscuits in (this ensures maximum rising and crispiness). Now I come to think about it the other reason for not adding butter, cream/youghurt etc… it that they seem to make the biscuits brown/burn much more easily at therefore prevents the use of the super high temperatures the recipe requires.

  3. Peter Gerard says:

    Hey Ma! I’ve provided the recipe, now it’s just up to Oliver or Cole to make you a grandmother…

  4. Aunt Nancy* says:

    Go Oliver!! Go Cole!! Being a grandmother is GRAND!! Love, N*

  5. Brian says:

    Today the idea of biscuits & gravy ice cream popped into my head, and doing a google search to see if anyone had tried this, found your blog. I hope you do take up the challenge. Good cream gravy has a nice subtle sweetness to it that would lend itself to a complex not-quite savory ice cream. I’m thinking a bacon-based gravy, with bits of fluffy biscuit folded in. I’d love to hear if you try it!

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