Although biscuits with sausage gravy has been a popular breakfast staple in large swaths of the United States for virtually as long as the country has existed, it wasn’t particularly big where I grew up. In fact, I must have been at least well into my thirties before trying it for the first time and have only had it on a handful of occasions altogether. But a couple of those instances were within the past year and I’ve been craving it increasingly, so I decided to give a shot to making them at home for the first time.
My first step was to look up recipes online to see if there was a generally agreed upon method for making sausage gravy. I quickly discovered that the dish has very few ingredients and is extremely fast and easy to prepare. It was created in the years following the Revolutionary War because it was cheap to make, consisted of ingredients that were usually on hand in most kitchens, and kept one’s belly feeling full for quite a while.
I’ve never been much of a baker, so if I had been solely responsible for putting this together, I’d have almost certainly opted for canned refrigerated biscuits. But my wife happens to love baking and wouldn’t hear of me resorting to store-bought dough. She whipped up four large biscuits using this recipe. They had a nice outer crust, but were also light and flavorful.
Preparing the sausage gravy was all on me. In fact, my wife isn’t a sausage fan, so eating it would also be my responsibility.
A basic recipe contains only three ingredients, along with salt and pepper to taste: ground breakfast sausage, flour and whole milk.
I began by putting about half of a one-pound package of sausage into a cast-iron pan over medium-low heat and breaking it apart into small pieces while it browned.
When the meat was fully cooked, I started sifting in a quarter-cup of flour – about half of it at first, then gradually the rest. As I stirred the pan’s contents, including scraping what was stuck to the bottom, the flour coated the meat.
Then I gradually added two cups of milk to the pan, a little bit at a time, while continuing to stir all of the ingredients. Each time the liquid started to thicken, I added a little more milk – and kept stirring.
While I had two-and-a-half cups of milk measured out to combine with the sausage and flour, I happen to like my sausage gravy on the thick side. So I hadn’t quite used all of the milk when I decided to stir in salt and pepper, take the pan off the heat, and serve up the gravy.
The down-side of using less milk was that the left-over portion that remained in the pan while I was eating quickly thickened up to the point where it would be tough to eat it as is. I’ll have to see if adding more milk to it on the stove can restore it to life.*
But putting the issue of the leftovers aside, I was thrilled with how my first attempt at sausage gravy turned out. It was pretty close to perfect both in terms of flavor and consistency.
I also have to credit my wife for providing wonderful biscuits that were a sensational base for the gravy. But if you don’t have a baker in your home, feel free to use canned dough from a grocery store.
Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
(Makes 2 servings)
1/2 pound ground breakfast sausage
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 1/2 cups whole milk
Salt and pepper, to taste
Two large or four small biscuits, using the recipe of your choice or store-bought canned dough
1. Prepare the biscuits according to the recipe you’re following or the package instructions if using store-bought dough.
2. Brown a half-pound of ground breakfast sausage in a heavy pan over medium-low heat, breaking the meat down into small pieces with an appropriate utensil as it cooks. Let it cook until fully browned.
3. After the sausage has finished browning, sift half of the flour over it and mix well. Slowly add the rest of the flour, continuing to mix – including scraping the bottom of the pan – until the meat is fully coated with it.
4. Slowly add the milk to the pan, a little at a time, continuing to stir the entire time. Whenever the gravy starts to thicken, add a little more milk – and keep stirring. You don’t need to use all of the milk if you feel the gravy has reached your desired consistency before it runs out – or you can use extra milk if you prefer a thinner gravy. Additional flour can be added if you accidentally create a gravy that is too thin. When the gravy has reached your desired consistency, remove it from the flame.
5. Slice a biscuit or two and place the halves on a plate. Spoon the sausage gravy over the biscuit halves and serve.
* The leftover sausage gravy was brought back to life and almost as good as it was when first cooked with the addition of more milk and stirring over a low flame.
5 thoughts on “My First Go at Biscuits with Sausage Gravy”
You clearly married up, as did I.
Great job, both cooking and writing – and trying something new! That, by the way, is one of many to pan-fry chicken and steak – the pan gravy
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Thank you Sir. I did make fried chicken once, but without gravy. I may have to give that another shot at some point.
I also didn’t grow up with biscuits and sausage gray, growing up in a kosher home!
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We didn’t keep kosher, but the only pork I generally ate while growing up was either bacon or in Chinese food.
Looks great, and you didn’t skimp on the sausage! On more than one occasion I’ve had disappointingly thin gravy at a restaurant.
I occasionally make biscuits (Pillsbury, since I don’t bake) and gravy a few times a year, and always on Christmas morning when the kids and grandkids come over (on that day I upgrade to at least half-and-half). I like to use a 50/50 blend of regular and spicy breakfast sausage, and I add a little bit of chopped onion as it browns.
I’ve also made gravy while on vacation, using a skillet on a charcoal grill. Thankfully no bears have ever come out of the woods to investigate.
And as tasty as a good sausage gravy is, it has to be one of the least photogenic foods out there.
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