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~ Cheddar Biscuits with a Creamy Sausage Gravy ~

6a0120a8551282970b019b0278481f970dThis breakfast is bursting with rustic Southern country charm and classic diner fare.  It is quite easy to duplicate at home too (even in a Yankee kitchen).  At first glance, it is the not the most appetizing food you're ever going to encounter, but, don't knock it until you've tried it!  Advice:  

"If you're thinking you want to dumb down 'biscuits and gravy' with anything other than pork sausage, or, veganize, low-carbize, decalorize, decholesterolize, or, free it of gluten -- don't let your Southern relatives, me, or the food police find out about it!" ~ Melanie

IMG_7968A bit about "biscuits and gravy": Traditionally eaten for breakfast (although it is a quick, comforting dinner too) this is a dish that emerged as Southern fare after The American Revolutionary War (1775-1783). With food in short supply, this was an inexpensive, substantial, "stick to your ribs" way for workers on farms and plantations to start the long, hard workday:  soft, doughy biscuits (fresh or leftover) doused with a creamy gravy made from the flavorful drippings of pork sausage.

The first time I ate this was not on one of our trips South, it was here in Happy Valley, back in the '80's, at the home of friends. George was a big ole' corporate cowboy from Texas and Pat was a Floridian with ties to Georgia. Pat worked at the same company I did at the time, and, surprise:  she loved to cook.  The first time we were invited to their home, it was for New Year's Day brunch, and, 'biscuits and gravy' was on their menu.  George told us about how this was his favorite breakfast and every time he and Pat drove to Florida, they stopped at the same dive-diner in South Carolina JUST to eat this, and, a waitress (who had worked there her entire life) gave HIM the secret* recipe.

IMG_7854Before you make the sausage gravy, you're going to need to make some biscuits.  I don't even care if, in a pinch, you buy some high-quality ones, but, once you taste my recipe for ~ Teresa's Stress Free Cheddar and Cream Biscuits ~ you won't be inclined to do that.  I'm recommending these, not just because they're easy to make, but, because the cheddar cheese in the biscuits is a delightful pairing with the sausage in the gravy -- they go absolutely hand-in-glove together.

*The secret:  sweet sausage, milk, cream, pepper & nutmeg.

IMG_78882  tablespoons salted butter

1 1/2  pounds breakfast sausage (sometimes marketed as country or sweet sausage), casings removed, pulled into small bits and pieces

5  tablespoons all-purpose flour

1/2  teaspoon sea salt

1/2  teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

1/2  teaspoon cayenne pepper

1/4  teaspoon ground nutmeg

2  cups whole milk, mixed with:

1  cup heavy or whipping cream

2  tablespoons Worcestershire sauce (optional) (Note:  This is not a traditional ingredient, I just enjoy the sexy tang it adds to the gravy.)

freshly ground sea salt and peppercorn blend, for seasoning and garnishing each serving

IMG_7904 IMG_7894~ Step 1.  In a 12" skillet, melt the butter over low heat. Add the sausage crumbles.  Adjust heat to medium-high and saute until the sausage is cooked through and just short of browning, about 5-6 minutes.  Personally, I like my sausage gravy with the sausage bits all plump and juicy, so I do not let it brown, which dries it out.

Note:  I always crumble the sausage into small bits and pieces with my fingertips prior to adding it to the pan.  Why?  Because I like really itty-bitty pieces of sausage in my sausage gravy.  If you want a chunkier gravy, just break it up with a spatula or the side of a spoon as it sautes.

IMG_7916 IMG_7911~ Step 2. Reduce heat to medium-low. Sprinkle the flour, salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper and nutmeg over all.  Cook, stirring almost constantly until all ingredients are combined and you can no longer taste raw flour, about 2-3 minutes.  It is important that you can no longer taste raw flour.

IMG_7951 IMG_7928~ Step 3.  In a 1-quart measuring container, combine the milk, cream and Worcestershire sauce. Add it to the sausage, adjust heat to a gentle simmer, and cook, maintaining a gentle simmer, until slightly thickened and drizzly, about 2-3 minutes.  Turn heat off and allow to rest about 5 minutes.  

Note:  As the sausage gravy rests, it will continue to thicken, so error on the side of not over-thickening.  You can always put it back on the heat to thicken it more if necessary.  Gently reheat any leftovers in the microwave.

Place a puddle of gravy on the bottom of each plate, slice a biscuit in half, place the bottom half on the puddle of gravy, ladle a bit more gravy over "the top of the bottom", place the top of the biscuit on, and ladle a more gravy "on top of the top".

IMG_7997Cheddar Biscuits with a Creamy Sausage Gravy:  Recipe yields 6 servings, or enough sausage gravy to serve 6, large, 3" round biscuits.

Special Equipment List:  12" skillet; large spatula or spoon; 1-quart measuring container; serrated bread knife; ladle

PICT2701Cook's Note:  If this is not enough artery-clogging indulgence for one meal, biscuits and gravy is often served with scrambled eggs.  You can find my method for ~ How to: Make "Fluffy" Scrambled Eggs ~ in Categories 9, 12, 15, 17 & 20.

"We are all in this food world together." ~ Melanie Preschutti


Thank-you for the comment Yung! This recipe is classic Southern USA fare, but, yes, it would be good over another type of bread, and, I could see a bit of onion and garlic tasting good in the mixture too!

This is so nice. I think I will have it for my dinner, the biscuit is nice, but guess if serve with bread or pasta would be really good too. Probably I would like to add some onion and garlic too. :)

Teresa! After a chat with my local butcher this AM, he told me that 'fresh' breakfast sausage, country sausage and sweet sausage are all basically the same. Most contain sage, and, occasionally some sugar or maple syrup is added. 'Fresh' Italian sausages, as we know, contain fennel and spices, and, are usually marketed as mild, hot, garlic, etc. In the case of all sausage, 'fresh' refers to uncured and requires cooking it fully prior to eating. Thanks to your question, I went back into the post and clarified this in the ingredients list! ~ Mel.

I wondered what made Southern gravy special; now I know. I don't think I've ever seen what's termed "sweet sausage" here in these parts, Mel. What else might it be? We have sweet Italian, and breakfast sausage with sage. I'm not sure what to look for.

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