I like my breakfast like I like my news shows (soporific), and biscuits and gravy is pretty much the standard for that. I have no earthly idea how this even became a breakfast for people who have things to get done during the day. But, it exists and I like it, so here it is. I mean, it’s Sunday. You should be going back to bed anyway.
Part I: Biscuit Secrets
There are three really easy things you can do to make your biscuits better:
- Use aluminum-free baking powder. If you’ve ever noticed that your biscuits have a weird metallic taste, it’s because you’re using baking powder with aluminum in it. Biscuits contain a lot of baking powder and there just aren’t any other flavors in them that can cover it. And, just because, here is a really cool explanation of how baking powder and baking soda work, and why some baking powders have aluminum.
- Make your ingredients as cold as possible. One of the things that make biscuits fluffy and pull-apart is that they have pockets of air throughout them. These pockets are created when chunks of shortening that weren’t fully incorporated melt during baking. This only happens if there are pockets of unincorporated shortening. Keeping your biscuit ingredients (all of them) super cold prior to mixing–and then not mixing them with your warm-ass hands–helps with this a lot. Shortening that stays cold will remain separate and won’t saturate the other ingredients.
- Do not overwork the dough. You knead bread dough in order to line up the gliadin and glutenin proteins to form gluten, which is strong, rubbery, and perfect for filling with gas from yeast. It also makes the bread more resilient. So, if you want delicate biscuits, you have to avoid developing the gluten, which can occur when you mix the dough too much. Only mix the ingredients until they are barely incorporated. I don’t even roll out my dough (or cut it into shape) because you inevitably end up with scraps that have to be smooshed together and rolled out a second time, making those biscuits tougher.
Simple Drop Biscuit Recipe
- 2 c flour
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 1/2 c shortening
- 3/4 c unsweetened, unflavored “milk” (I usually use almond)
Mix together the dry ingredients and put them in the freezer for 30 minutes. Put the shortening in there, too, and keep the milk in the fridge. I actually just store my flour and shortening in the freezer all the time so I don’t have to wait (this also prevents rancid shortening and flour full of weevils). Once everything is thoroughly cold, cut the shortening into the dry ingredients with a fork, pastry cutter, or food processor, until the shortening is in pea to dime sized bits. Add the milk and stir just until everything is incorporated. The dough will be fairly wet. Spoon chunks of dough onto a cookie sheet–mine are usually about 3 tbsp worth of dough per biscuit. Bake for 10 minutes at 450 F / 230 C.
Part II: Gravy Secrets
Apart from the secret that I shared in this post about the correct ratio for roux to liquid in a gravy, there’s really only one gravy secret for this recipe. Use unsweetened non-dairy milk, almond if you can.
If you’ve ever made a white gravy with regular non-dairy milk, you’ve probably noticed that it turns out strangely sweet–so sweet you can’t really cover it up and make the gravy savory again. This is because, even though it doesn’t really taste like it, all fake milks, including the plain flavors, have a fair amount of sugar in them. That’s great when you’re using these milks on cereal, in smoothies, in cakes, etc. but not when you’re making gravy, Alfredo, or any other savory, creamy sauce. This one thing will make a huge difference in how your gravy turns out.
Creamy Sausage Gravy
- 1/4 c margarine
- 1/4 c flour
- 2 c unsweetened, unflavored “milk” (again, I prefer almond)
- 1 bouillon cube (fake chicken is best)
- 1 – 1 1/2 Italian Field Roast sausages, chopped into small pieces or pulsed in a food processor
- Pepper to taste
Brown the sausage in a pan, making sure to scrape up all the crusty bits on the bottom. In a separate pan, cook together the margarine and flour (roux) for a few minutes on medium-low heat. Cut up the bouillon and add it to the roux (it should melt down a bit). Turn up the heat, add the sausage, and whisk in the milk. Add a little pepper. Once the mixture starts boiling, turn it down to a simmer and cook it until the gravy thickens, whisking often. If the gravy is too thick, add more milk. Serve over hot, margarined biscuits.
This makes two healthy servings, probably with biscuits left over for breakfast dessert (biscuit + margarine + agave).