Biscuits and vegetarian gravy, with apologies
I’m a breakfast purist. Even if, like yesterday, I’m not up and out of bed until noon, I’m having breakfast for my first meal of the day. No cold pizza or soggy leftover bullshit. Breakfast is way too good to miss out on. I also have strict ideas about what breakfast should be. For example, I don’t think steak belongs anywhere near my eggs. Nor ham. What is this, lunch? No. I’ve only recently come to terms with potatoes as part of breakfast, and even that’s iffy.
Because of my irrational breakfast rules, I was never interested in biscuits and gravy for breakfast. While I love biscuits, I could not handle the thought of gravy in the morningtime. I realize that it’s gravy made with breakfast sausage, but I couldn’t separate it from the kind of gravy that belongs on turkey and mashed potatoes, and that kind of gravy should get the right the fuck out of my breakfast.
Then I stumbled on this recipe for homemade biscuits and vegetarian sausage gravy. I’m not a vegetarian, but I love Morning Star’s sausage patties because they’re easy to make and a little bit healthier than regular sausage. The pictures on that blog post looked so amazing, they sold me. More often than not, I reject food outright for no good reason at all, so I decided to give this a try.
First came Alton Brown’s biscuits. I’d never made biscuits from scratch before, and the recipe was asking me to do some awfully strange things. I read and reread the recipe to remember what to do. First, I had to mix the fats (butter and shortening) with the dry ingredients WITH MY HANDS. I had no idea what I was doing. I sort of vaguely smooshed the stuff around until it seemed mixed, though it was hard to tell. Then, I made a well in the middle of the bowl for the chilled buttermilk, as instructed:
I stirred the dough until it was just combined, and plopped it onto the cutting board. In order to keep the biscuits fluffy, you’re not supposed to knead the dough very much at all. I got extremely paranoid about over-kneading because WHAT IF THE WHOLE THING IS RUINED. I formed the dough into a circle (a challenge because the dough was so sticky it didn’t want to move where I wanted), and asked Charlie if it was one inch thick.
“No,” he said, “That’s less than an inch.” I have such poor spatial reasoning I’m incapable of seeing what an inch looks like without getting out a ruler. I folded the dough over, but the flour from the cutting board kept the two halves from sticking together. I immediately started swearing and complaining that I’d screwed it up. The dough did not look cute at all.
The oven was already preheated and there was no point in quitting while I was so far along. Apparently there’s some sort of tool you can use to cut the biscuits into even circles, but I didn’t know such a thing existed. Instead I used a cup to make biscuit slices, putting the leftover scraps together each time to make new biscuits. They were wildly inconsistent.
Into the oven they went, and I started to make the gravy. I cooked the Morning Star sausage patties, crumbling them up as I went, and put them on a plate off to the side. The recipe told me to whisk the flour in with the butter once the butter started foaming. But the pan was so hot from the sausage that the butter started foaming almost instantly, some of it burning in the center of the pan. I panicked and dumped the flour and milk in at once, whisking like it would all be okay if I just WHISKED FAST ENOUGH.
Meanwhile, I’d messed up the timing, and the biscuits were done earlier than I expected. But they looked delicious, if a little lopsided, so I started to feel like perhaps I hadn’t screwed up everything.
It turns out gravy is really simple, guys. I thought you had to add a bunch of spices or corn starch or something, but it’s just milk, butter, flour, salt, and pepper. I added the sausage back to the gravy, and let it thicken. I called Charlie over multiple times to check if the gravy looked edible, since he’s much more of a gravy expert than I am. Eventually, it started to look like it should.
We split open a biscuit, and between how fluffy they turned out and the way the gravy smelled, I was willing to admit I’d been totally wrong about sausage gravy.
I worried that it might be bland with just salt and pepper for spices, but hot damn was this hearty and delicious. I wanted to put on some flannel and go split logs when I was done. My apologies to sausage gravy for shunning you for so long. We will have to make up for lost time.