Monday, August 15, 2011

Sausage Gravy Made Simple

Over the weekend I made a household favorite for dinner -- Sausage Gravy.  I capitalized it because that is how proud I am of my Sausage Gravy.  

I know what many of you are thinking... 'sausage gravy for dinner?'  Yes,  Sausage Gravy for dinner.  Biscuits and Sausage Gravy.  Mmm,  mmm,   good!  I make it simple,  and it turns out fantastic every time.  

Of course,  it didn't always turn out fantastic.  Not in the beginning,  anyway.  But over time,  and about a half dozen or so trials later,  it has turned out to be an 'all-time favorite' around here.

So,  without a lot of babble...  Here's my way of making Sausage Gravy.  I have borrowed from various recipes either posted on the internet or from You Tube videos,  and I have made it my own.  So here it goes...

When I fix biscuits and gravy here,  I always make sure that I have my ingredients available before I even fire up the stove.  Being consistent is key least,  it is for me.  I get what I need from the grocery store first before I begin.

Biscuits.  I don't make them homemade.  Too much trouble.  I balance the whole thing by using store-bought biscuits.  Less work,  more time to enjoy the plate of joy afterwards.   

Brand-name is good,  but you don't have to spend that much if you can't afford to.  If you find some Pillsbury Grand biscuits though -- get em.  The bigger the better.  

Now,  I may buy the biscuits,  but I make the gravy from scratch.  None of that packaged stuff.

To start the whole thing off,  I usually get the biscuits on a baking sheet -- ready to go into the oven.  Then I pull out a medium-sized to large-sized,  non-stick frying pan.  If you want to use a cast iron,  then that's your choice.  Depends on  how many people you are going to be feeding.  My 'recipe' is good for 3 people.

Turning on one of the stove burners,  I set the temp at medium heat or medium high,  depending on the stove.  I then lay 4 to 6 slices of bacon in the pan (doesn't matter what brand,  although i prefer the more fatty kind),  and I let it fry for about 3 to 4 minutes.  If you like your bacon crispy,  then fry it a little longer.

I then start to chop a medium-sized onion,  while the bacon is starting to fry.  I only use half of the onion,  but I make sure that it is chopped up nice.  Doesn't have to be diced perfectly or anything like that,  just chopped up nice.

By the time you're finished chopping up the onion,  the bacon is ready to be turned.  Turn it.  Then preheat the oven to whatever temperature it says on the side of the biscuit tube.  Takes a few minutes for the oven to get preheated.

While this is going on,  you can make sure that you have your milk and your flour (all purpose white) ready,  and a plate with a paper towel to transfer the bacon to.  (Just little things to do if you haven't already done it.)  Also make sure you have a bowl lined with a paper towel,  to transfer the crumbled sausage and chopped onion to.

Sounds like a lot,  but it really is simple.

Ok,  by now your bacon should be ready to transfer to a plate,  so do that.  After that,  add a half of a roll of that sausage that you got from the store.  Doesn't have to be name brand if you can't afford it (I prefer the cheaper kind),  it just produces more grease and you need the grease to make the roux -- and you need the roux to make the gravy.

Plop the half roll of breakfast sausage into the pan of bacon drippings,  and with a large wooden spoon or whatever,  start breaking it apart.  Mash it,  cut into it,  do what you have to do to crumble it up into nice-size chunks.  Let those chunks start to simmer in the bacon drippings.  It doesn't take too long,  maybe a few minutes,  until you're ready to add the chopped onion.  Add the onion and let it simmer -- softening the onion and making them tender.

By this time,  the oven should be preheated and your biscuits should be ready to go in.  Depending on the biscuits you buy,  it should probably take between 10 and 15 minutes for them to bake.  No problem.

Stir the sausage/onion around the bacon drippings real good.  You want the sausage browned nicely and the onion tender.  Shouldn't take too long.  5 to 10 minutes.  So they should be close to being ready to transfer to that bowl with the paper towel lining.  Do that with a slotted spoon if you can,  so you can let as much grease drain from the sausage/onion as you can -- back into the pan.  The paper towel in the bowl will absorb any remaining grease,  so don't spend too much time shaking the grease out.

After the sausage and onion has been transferred to the bowl,  you can add the flour to the grease.  I use a large spoon for this.  Not a shovel,  but a large spoon.  If you want to use a tablespoon for this,  that's fine.  Get a decent spoon full of flour and sprinkle it into the greasy pan.  Use your wooden spoon,  and stir the flour around.  This will create your roux,  which will create the gravy.  You will find that you might need another decent spoon full of flour,  and that's fine.  Get another decent spoon full,  but not too heaping.  Add the flour to the roux and stir it around,  making sure that the grease absorbs it.

The roux needs to have a consistency of something that is not exactly thin,  and not exactly thick.  I'd say the consistency of a clam chowder maybe.  (Best example I could think of at the moment.)

Sprinkle a little pepper into the roux and give it a minute.  Let the pepper cook into the roux,  but don't burn the roux.  You want it to be a little brown but not too brown.  Now you're ready for the milk.  Preferably whole milk.  (It just produces better results.)

I like to keep the jug close by.  I don't measure the milk,  but if I had to guess -- I'd say to add about a half cup of milk at a time -- to start out with.  Then use that wooden spoon,  and start stirring.  Not too fast -- you don't want  to cause any waves and end up making a mess.

Stir the roux and the milk,  and use that spoon to press down on the chunks of roux that will start to float around within that milk.  Press it against the side of the pan,  and keep slowly stirring it.  Won't take long for it to start to thicken up.  

Let it thicken up a little until it starts to resemble a thick paste,  and then add another half cup or so of milk -- to thin it out.  Repeat the stirring process.  This might require a total of 2 cups or so of milk,  depending on the size of the pan and the amount of roux you have created.  You be the judge.

After about the third pouring of milk,  the gravy should be starting to come together.  The consistency should be a little thin,  since you have added enough milk to it,  but the roux will be mostly broken up.  The paste-like consistency will be almost gone,  and that's what you want.  

Stir it a little more and make sure that the sides of the pan are scraped free of any dried gravy,  then leave it alone.  Maybe a few minutes.  Stir it a little here and there if you wish,  but you want the heat to create a bubbling effect.  This is how your gravy is going to thicken up.  The heat will cause this bubbling effect as it cooks the gravy.

As your gravy cooks for a minute or so,  you can start adding the crumbled sausage/onion to the mix.  Careful not to make a mess -- you don't want any gravy getting onto the burner.  I'm sure by now,  your biscuits are probably close to being ready to come out of the oven.  If they are ready to come out,  then pull em out and let them cool.

The gravy should be starting to bubble pretty good by now and when it does,  you should start to stir it pretty well with your wooden spoon.  Slowly stir,  all around.  Scraping the dried gravy from the sides of the pan,  and just pressing any of that remaining roux against the bottom or sides -- to make sure that as much of it is being turned into that delicious gravy.

(The process shouldn't take too long,  after the bubbling starts.  Maybe a few minutes.  Just keep stirring slowly until the consistency thickens up a little,  and then turn off the stove and move the pan to a different burner.)

As the gravy begins to cool,  it'll thicken up more.  Use garlic salt,  or garlic pepper salt or sea salt -- whatever seasoning you prefer.  Add a little at first,  and then taste test it.  Add more seasoning if needed.

That's it.

Biscuits should still be warm.  The bacon is already cooked.  Stir the seasonings into the gravy really good and let it sit for a minute or so.  You should be good to go!!

That  is how I make my Sausage Gravy with biscuits.  It's simple and it's delicious.  Hope you enjoy!! 

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