This year, I gave my family a choice: do you want our usual (biscuits and gravy) for Christmas morning, or do you want a breakfast casserole? My daughter-in-law, Brittney, jumped in before anyone else could vote. “Biscuits and gravy … hands down.” She’s a girl after my own heart. Nothing against breakfast casserole … I mean, how can you speak against bread and eggs and cheese and sausage? But there’s just something about biscuits and gravy. Maybe it’s the biscuits. Or maybe it’s the gravy.
For the past four years, whenever I make this, I think of my Canadian friends, Ann Voskamp and Darlene Schacht. The two of them came to stay with me so they could attend a writers’ conference where I was teaching. I had known them through blogging for a few years, but we had never met until the week they came to visit, It was indescribably delightful to spend that time with the two of them. I grieved when I had to drop them off at SeaTac airport. But back to the biscuits and gravy: when I served them this beloved dish for breakfast one morning during their stay, they both looked at me curiously and said, “Biscuits and gravy? What is that?” I thought they were joking. I really did. But it turns out, no one in Eastern Canada has ever heard of this dish. Both Ann and Darlene promised to carry it back to their homeland … I can only hope it is slowly making its way through the province. Time will tell.
Here’s how you do it:
Biscuits and Gravy
- 2 tubes of Jimmy Dean’s sausage (we like hot, but you may want to start with regular)
- 1/2 medium onion, diced
- flour, 4-5 TBSP
- butter, 1 TBSP
- milk, several cups
- freshly grated nutmeg
- salt and pepper
- Worcestershire sauce (optional)
Brown the sausage and onion together in a large pan or pot. I used my grandmother’s Dutch oven.
Start adding the flour, a TBSP at a time, watching to make sure it is all absorbed. When that’s the case, add another TBSP of butter and flour. Maybe this is completely unnecessary, but I think a little pat of butter is a nice finish to any dish.
Stir until the butter melts and keep cooking to give the flour a little time to brown. Then begin adding milk, stirring continuously. Keep adding milk until you get to the texture you’re happy with.
If you don’t have a nutmeg seed (nut) and a fine grater, you have my permission to use store-bought nutmeg THIS ONE TIME. But the moment you’ve scraped the last of the biscuits and gravy from your plate, you need to run to the store and buy the real thing. Do I have your word?
Here’s a picture of my fine grater and my jar of nutmeg seeds:
A note of caution: the nutmeg is one of the more agile of the spice seeds. Loosen your grip for just a moment, and it will jump to the far edge of your pot.
Retrieve, rinse, repeat.
I can’t tell you how much nutmeg to add. I just add until it tastes good. On this particular batch, I kept adding nutmeg and salt and pepper, tasting, and wondering what was missing. Then I remembered my friend, Kathy Johnson. Back in July, when we vacationed with the Johnsons at the Dunes in southern Oregon (where we rode quads until we couldn’t ride anymore), I made biscuits and gravy one morning for the bunch of us. Kathy mentioned that Worchestershire sauce was a good addition to biscuits and gravy. I think she said she learned this from her mother … but I can’t be certain. Anyway, on that occasion, the batch I was making tasted fine with the addition of anything further. So I didn’t add any Worchestershire sauce. But Christmas morning, the batch I made needed “something more.” I kept looking through the cupboard for the “something more,” and then I remembered Kathy’s suggestion. And guess what? It worked! With recipes like this, everything depends on the meat. If the sausage is spectacular, nothing more is needed. But if you find your sausage gravy is a little lackluster, try a few dashes of Worcestershire sauce.
When the gravy is nice and thickened, like this …
… you’re ready to serve. Just ladle over biscuits. If you’re not opposed to butter, add a tiny dollop and watch as it melts into golden rivulets that run enticingly down the side of the sausage-gravy-mountain.