I may have gone to The University of the South, but trust me, I have no delusions of being a southern belle. I’m a Yankee through and through, from the pace at which I walk to the way I say ‘pecan’. But as someone who has spent a solid chunk of her time there, I do have an appreciation of the South and of southern cuisine.
I was first introduced to biscuits and gravy in Sewanee’s dining hall during my mom’s 25th college reunion, my official college visit. My mom certainly sold me on the school, but she didn’t do much to sell this particular southern delicacy, as she never seemed to embrace it in her time south of the Mason-Dixon.
In her defense, the dining hall version of biscuits and gravy didn’t do much for me, either. The biscuits weren’t as light and fluffy as they could’ve been. The gravy, while flecked with some bits of sausage, was bland and thin. I would get some on occasion, because sometimes (on Saturdays or Sundays….or Fridays after your 8am) you did just need a puck of carbohydrate covered in sausage fat gravy. But was it a staple? No.
And it still isn’t a staple because that’s exactly what it is – a buttery carbohydrate smothered in sausage fat gravy with chunks of sausage in it. Like I said, I’m no expert, but to me, that’s how it should be. Being the Yank I am though, and a Vermont-loving one at that, I couldn’t resist adding some maple syrup to this recipe. Because it is breakfast, after all.
Fully accepting that any Southerner may take issue with the authenticity of this recipe, I offer this to you all the same. Perfect for an at-home brunch – different than the usual fare and still easy to make. Something tells me my mom would be digging in if I put this in front of her right now…right, Mom?
Biscuits and Gravy
Serves: 2-3 hungover hungry hippos
Note: I used this recipe for the biscuits. I’ve tried to make them with such precise edges, but it hasn’t really worked out for me yet. For this instance, I just pat down the dough and used a cookie cutter to make round biscuits. Any biscuit recipe will do, though! Also, I would add more milk for the gravy next time. I don’t want it too thin, but I do prefer it a little looser than what I made.
1 biscuit per person (Or more! But the gravy will only cover 2-3 biscuits. Multiply as needed.)
7 – 8 ounces of breakfast sausage, uncooked
2 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons butter (may be less if your sausage yields more fat than mine did)
1 ¼ cup milk, any kind (next time I’d try 2 cups)
1 TB chopped fresh sage
1 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon maple syrup
A pinch of red pepper flakes
A pinch of nutmeg, bonus if it’s freshly grated
1 teaspoon kosher salt, plus more to taste
A few grinds of freshly cracked pepper
- Heat a fry pan over medium heat and add the sausage once heated. Break the sausage up with the back of a wooden spoon. Cook until nicely browned and slightly crispy. Remove with a slotted spoon to a paper towel lined plate.
- Add the butter to the pan, still on medium heat. (If your sausage rendered a lot of fat, you won’t need the full 2 tablespoons. If you feel unsure about guesstimating, empty the sausage fat into a small bowl and use a tablespoon to measure. Make up any difference with butter.) Once the butter is melted, add the flour and whisk until you don’t see any raw flour.
- Slowly pour in the milk while still whisking. Once the gravy starts to thicken, lower the heat.
- Add the maple syrup, sage, thyme, red pepper flakes, nutmeg, salt, and pepper. Whisk to mix. Taste and adjust seasonings as needed. Add the sausage back in.
- Hopefully, your biscuits are fresh. If they aren’t throw them in the toaster or microwave for a quick warm through. Split a biscuit in two and top with the sausage gravy.
- Add some scrambled or fried eggs if you so choose, and get in there.