Friday, February 11, 2011
What's For Dinner?
I tweaked my usual recipe for Sausage Gravy & Biscuits and thought they were the best ever! I was able to enjoy them three times (including leftovers) and they were superb each time! Sausage gravy is something I've made many times but only felt like it was mediocre. This time, I decided to look up how the woman, Paula Deen, does hers because she does everything right when it comes to cookin'! And let me tell you, one simple ingredient made all the difference in the world!
And then there's the biscuits. In my early days of cooking, making biscuits meant opening up a can of Grands. Then I upgraded to using Bisquick to make them "from scratch." Now I make them totally from scratch, using Paula's recipe with a small tweak. Here are the recipes as I make them:
3 C flour
2 T sugar (wow, this really makes a difference!)
2 1/2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
1/2 C Crisco (I used butter flavored, which is all I had)
1 C buttermilk (*see note below)
1/4 C melted unsalted butter (I just used regular butter)
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. In a medium bowl, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut in the shortening with a fork or pastry cutter until it looks like cornmeal. Add the milk, a little at a time, stirring constantly until well mixed.
Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface. Knead lightly two or three times. Roll out the dough to 1/2" thickness. Cut with a 2" biscuit cutter.
Place the biscuits in a greased iron skillet. (I'm from the north and have never seen such a thing as an iron skillet. I made the biscuits in a regular 9x13" glass baking dish.) Gently press down on each biscuit. Brush the biscuits with half the melted butter. Bake for 14 minutes or until golden brown. (Mine were done early.) Brush the hot biscuits with the remaining butter (which I did not do). Split the biscuits in half and ladle gravy over them.
*Note: The first time I made this recipe, I actually purchased buttermilk, something I had never used before. I thought the biscuits were OK...they were very heavy and reminded me of a cross between a biscuit and a heavy yeast roll. The second time I just used regular milk. Buttermilk is expensive and I don't use the rest of the carton before it goes bad. I thought the biscuits were actually better when made with regular milk. So it sure doesn't ruin them if you don't have buttermilk.
Browned, crumbled sausage
1/4 C bacon grease (the key ingredient!)
1/4 C flour
1 1/2+ C warm milk
1/4 t salt
1/4 t pepper
(Paula doesn't use sausage in this recipe...it's something added by me. I brown an entire roll of Bob Evan's sausage in my skillet, half of it formed into patties and half crumbled. I remove the cooked patties and push the crumbled sausage to the side.) Heat bacon grease in the same pan used for cooking the sausage. Add the flour and whisk until smooth and bubbly, about 1 minute. Add the warm milk slowly and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a low simmer and stir, until thickened, about 5 minutes, adding milk as necessary to control the thickness. Season the gravy with salt and pepper. Serve hot over biscuits.
(*Note: I used to use oil or butter in place of the bacon grease when I made gravy. The bacon grease gives the gravy so much more flavor! I really recommend doing this if you have the means.)