Apparently, if you live in my house, getting up on Saturday morning and making sausage from scratch is something that actually happens. Go figure.
I wanted to make biscuits and gravy for my mom, who loves them, but often complains that she can’t find any restaurants that make them well anymore. I’ve never been a fan, but I can guess what the problem is; the gravy. I adore gravy but it’s been sad to watch (and taste) what has happened to food service gravies. I’m sure that most are spooned out of a box and mixed with water. Then to add insult to injury, they’re lumped together with tasteless breakfast sausage and uninspired biscuits. Well, I aim to fix that for her. (Not that she wants me to. But I’m going to anyway.)
The first thing for me was making the sausage. I have a problem with breakfast sausage. It’s flavorless. So, I decided a nice sage and garlic sausage with a bit of heat would be good. Then to the gravy, it needed to be a cream gravy, not some watery broth and flour gravy (thanks to the Homesick Texan for being so passionate on the subject.) For the biscuits, I decided to mess around with some different recipes*. And then for some sacrilege, I felt the dish needed a little variation in flavor so I sautéed some mushrooms and added them with some fresh chives to the gravy. It was yummy. I’ve been converted.
Biscuits & Gravy
4lbs chicken thighs**
1 1/2 T sage
1 T salt
1 T pepper
2 t garlic powder
2 t onion powder
1 t AmesPhos
1 t sugar
1/2 – 2 t chipotle powder
Cut meat and skin from the thigh bones. Put in freezer until it’s on the verge of starting to freeze. Grind the meat with the grinder attachment of a kitchen aid mixer. Add in the spices and mix using your hands. Put in the freezer until it’s on the verge of starting to freeze again. Send meat through the grinder again. Chill while you’re working on the biscuits.
1 1/3 c unbleached all purpose flour + more for dusting
1 c cake flour
2 t baking powder
1/2 t baking soda
1 t sugar
1/2 t salt
1/2 c butter or vegetable shortening or combo of both cut into 1/2″ chunks
1 c buttermilk
Preheat oven to 450°f.
Combine the dry ingredients in the bowl of a food processor. Process a few times in quick spurts to combine. Put chunks of butter and/or shortening in bowl, spaced out so that they don’t stick together. Process in quick spurts until you have coarse, hail-sized, bits (about 10 spurts.) Add buttermilk in while processor is on. Once the dough becomes combined in one big piece, stop processing.
For free form biscuits:
Divide dough into 12 parts or pull off 1/4 c pieces of dough and with floured hands shape into round biscuit sized shapes.
For cut biscuits:
Turn dough out onto lightly floured silicon sheet. Dough will be very sticky. Pat/roll dough out to 1″ thick and cut out biscuits with 2″ cutter. Scrape it up and re-roll until you are out of dough.
Place formed pieces of dough on un-greased baking sheets. Bake until browned, 10 – 15 minutes.
Sacrilege & Sausage
8oz brown mushrooms, whole, halved or quartered – to make them bite sized
1 lb sausage
Heat olive oil in pan over medium-high heat. When shimmery add in mushrooms, sprinkle with some salt and sauté until tender. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
Add sausage to sauté pan and medium-high heat until cooked through. Transfer chicken to the mushroom bowl, leaving drippings behind for gravy.
2 T drippings or butter
2 T flour
1 1/4 c 2% milk
1/4 c cream
salt & pepper
Add drippings and/or butter to sauté pan. When melted, add flour and cook, stirring continuously over medium-high heat until browned. Reduce heat and add in milk and cream. Cook until thickened, still stirring continuously. Add in salt, pepper and Tobasco to taste.
Stir in mushrooms, sausage and chives. To serve, cut biscuits in half and ladle gravy over them. Wait for the kisses from the happy eaters.
*For the biscuits, I was going to do my normal recipe – that really isn’t a recipe at all. I put about 2 1/2 c of self rising flour in a bowl, make a well, add in 1/2 c vegetable shortening, 1 c of buttermilk and a pinch of salt. Then I mush up the shortening in the buttermilk and start incorporating the flour in by rolling my hand around the outside of the well until most or all of the flour is incorporated. You know you’re done when the dough is wet and sticky but silky. With floured hands, grab 1/4 c balls of dough and mush them into biscuit shapes. Place on a baking sheet and bake in a 400°f until browned.
However, Marv has some issue with these. They’re too speedy or something. For him speedy = cheating. So, I started trying biscuit recipes. People have a lot of theories about biscuits. I can’t seem to get their theories to matter. Anyway, I tried Alton Brown’s recipe, but they were bubbly, not flaky so I nixed him. Then I tried the Cooks Illustrated recipe. The dough was odd, a bit hard but they tasted okay. They also had this whole thing about butter giving a much better taste than vegetable shortening – but I couldn’t really tell the difference. Anyway, I did like the notion of not having my hand working in some really cold buttermilk for 5 – 10 minutes so I decided to dork around with a food processor biscuit. I really just kept the ingredients from the way I normally make biscuits, but I separated out the self-rising flour to it’s ingredients and changed the process to mimic a pie recipe, like the Cooks Illustrated recipe does. Seemed like the right thing to do.
** This makes enough sausage for 4 recipes of biscuits & gravy. You can divide it into 4 parts and freeze for future use.