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Southern Biscuits And Gravy

Southern Biscuits And Gravy

Biscuits and gravy have been around as long as this country. Born of necessity and frugality, the dish seems to have become commonplace during the Revolutionary War. Biscuits and gravy answered the need for a hearty, high-calorie breakfast for people who worked hard, but didn’t have much money on hand.

Biscuits and Gravy Day is December 14th!

Why Biscuits And Gravy?

The milk-based gravy was used to stretch the meat, and biscuits themselves could be made with a variety of fats. Butter was the preferred fat, particularly if the family had a cow or ready access to dairy; and if not, lard or drippings were frequently used. At first, biscuits were nothing but hard tooth-breaking lumps of flour and water, but eventually they evolved into the light and flaky tender-crumb variety made with baking powder that we enjoy today. Popular across the country, this dish is a particular favorite in the Southern United States, and you’d be hard pressed to find a restaurant where it wasn’t on the menu.

Proper Southern-style biscuits and gravy begin with homemade buttermilk biscuits. If you are planning to make this dish with grocery store biscuit dough in a pressurized cardboard tube, you will be sacrificing flavor and texture (not to mention authenticity) for convenience. As for the gravy, it will only be as good as the sausage you use. Buy a bulk breakfast sausage that you like, one that’s well seasoned, and has a decent ratio of fat to lean. Avoid the budget varieties that are almost all fat. The buttermilk you use is also important — the acidity that results from a high-quality product reacts more fiercely with baking powder, making a much lighter biscuit.

Try this authentic recipe and serve to your weekend guests — we guarantee every last bit will disappear!

Southern Buttermilk Biscuits and Gravy Recipe

Buttermilk Biscuits (makes 8 large biscuits)

2 cups all-purpose flour
3 teaspoons aluminum-free baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon baking soda (scant)
1 stick frozen butter, sliced thin, or even grated with a box grater
3/4 cup ice cold buttermilk (premium “churn style” is best)
Some extra buttermilk for brushing the tops

Preheat oven to 425° F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
Whisk flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda together in a large bowl until dry ingredients are well distributed.

Cut butter into flour mixture with a pastry blender or two knives until the mixture resembles coarse crumbs. Add buttermilk; stir until the dry ingredients are just moistened.

Turn dough onto a floured work surface, gather dough together with your hands into a rough rectangle. Fold the rectangle in thirds like a business letter. Turn 90°, gather any crumbs, and pat down into a rectangle. Fold twice more and pat down in between. This helps form the flaky layers.

Roll dough on a floured surface to about 5/8 inch thick. Cut biscuits into 3-inch rounds, Try to cut them close together, because any biscuits you make from the gathered dough scraps won’t rise as high.

Transfer biscuits to the parchment lined baking sheet. Make a slight indent in the top of each biscuit with your thumb. Brush the tops of biscuits with the additional buttermilk. Bake in the preheated oven until golden brown, about 12-15 minutes.

Sausage Gravy

3 tablespoons butter
1 lb. tube breakfast sausage, hot or mild
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt, plus more as needed
2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, plus more as needed
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional, especially if you use hot sausage)
3 ½-4 cups whole milk, warmed slightly in microwave

Heat the butter in a dutch oven or large, heavy bottomed saucepan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the sausage and brown, breaking it up with a wooden spatula as it cooks, until the meat is starting to brown, about 5 minutes.

Reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle the flour over the sausage and mix it well to coat the crumbled sausage meat. Season with the salt, pepper, and cayenne. Cook for another minute or two, stirring often.

Gradually stir in the warm milk, scraping up any brown bits. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally until thickened. If the gravy is too thick, just thin it out with more milk. Taste the gravy and season with additional salt and pepper as needed.

To Serve
Pull freshly baked biscuits in half and ladle the sausage gravy over the top. Serve piping hot.

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  • Joyce says:

    Please……please reccomend a good sausage..have a hard time finding it . Most are on the dry side or have hard gristle like pieces all through it…so frustrating !

    • Susan Higgins says:

      Hi Joyce, We agree that getting terrible sausage (breakfast sausage or other) with gristle in it can ruin any dish. There are a few things you can do. You can ask your grocery store butcher grind up some pork (tell him you’re making breakfast sausage) and you can follow a trusted recipe (we like this one: https://www.bonappetit.com/recipe/ba-breakfast-sausage)
      It’s really trial and error with brands. Do you have any local farms you could reach out to? We have a local sausage maker in Lisbon who uses only quality ingredients.

  • Joe Gilman says:

    Hello WOrld

  • Michele Holloway says:

    Try adding some parmesan cheese at the end….you will be delighted with the flavor boost….it doesn’t take that much for real enhancement. This is coming from a 55 yr old Georgia girl who came up eating sausage gravy and biscuits her entire life.

  • Bj Green says:

    Onions, poultry seasoning, Cayenne, or anything you want to try will just make it yours. I adjust almost every recipe after the 1st time. Personal preferences always take presidence.

  • Bj Green says:

    I love sausage gravy & always ad 1/2 teaspoon of poultry seasoning. That little bit really adds to the gravy.

  • Mary says:

    You never put onions or cayenne pepper in southern gravy. Unless it’s for supper with country fried steak or something. And as everyone else said you use the sausage or bacon or fatback to provide the grease to make the gravy but don’t leave them in the pan.

  • John Mc Shanog says:

    I know. I just love breakfast.

  • Rox says:

    If you replace half the milk with cream and the other half with chicken stock…Oh ma gawd…delish

  • Debra says:

    Another good gravy is egg gravy. Boiled eggs chopped, add to milk, make thickening agent of cornstarch. Add to milk and egg after they are heated up. Salt and pepper to taste.

  • Marybeth S. says:

    We always made sausage patties or fried bacon,then used the grease to make gravy. I’m from the south and never heard of adding cayenne pepper until a few years ago.

  • Mary says:

    My Husband used to drive a tractor trailer to the U.S. And would rave about their biscuits and gravy. I am so happy to see this recipe and anxious to give it a try. Thank you from Nova Scotia..

  • Pam says:

    My Grandma was from Tennessee. When she made biscuits and gravy the gravy never had meat in it. She used bacon grease for the base then the flour,milk and pepper. Salt if needed.Biscuits were homemade. It was the best!!

  • Dave says:

    Hi Sunny It is worth the effort to make your own if you are allergic to soy products like I am! We have to either make our own! Soy is in everything!

  • Sunny says:

    I also use premade biscuits that I bake in the oven. Not worth the effort these days to make your own!

  • Sunny says:

    Healthier Sausage Gravy
    3 tablespoons unsalted butter
    1 lb. tube breakfast sausage, mild (it’s breakfast!) use 1/2 lb and add 1/2 lb of natural sausage links chopped in bite size pieces. Can use Turkey breakfast sausage
    1/3 cup all-purpose flour, plus more as needed (since using FF milk)
    1C chopped onion
    2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepper, plus more as needed
    3 ½-4 cups fat free milk, warmed slightly in microwave

    After sautéing sausage a bit add onion and continue browning. Continue recipe.

  • Sunny says:

    Where is the chopped onion in this recipe??? Replace the cayenne pepper with 1c onion. Never heard of using cayenne in this and I have been making it forever. You should also delete the salt. There is enough in the sausage.

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