Biscuits and Sawmill Gravy
I came across a blog called The Art of Manliness, and a discussion of cooking “manly food”. Well this in my opinion is one of the most manly dishes any man (or woman) can make….
Biscuits and gravy…oh how I love thee… This, to me is the soul of comfort food.
Growing up in a Bakersfield “okie”,household most Sunday morning breakfasts consisted of: bacon, fried eggs, sausage patties, fried potatoes, drop biscuits and gravy. I guess it was a throwback to my father’s Texas rancher roots.
At the time I didn’t know there were different types of gravy; sawmill, bacon, redeye…Mom mostly made bacon gravy, since that’s what dad grew up with, I just remember sitting down to mounds of the most unhealthy but, the most delicious breakfast fare ever imagined.
After leaving home, I would try to recapture that wonderful fluffy biscuit covered in hot creamy gravy with bits of meat. I ordered it in restaurants to be miserably disappointed, even in the South. Friends made it for me…wrong, I tried to make it…wrong.
Then I discovered Jeff Smith, The Frugal Gourmet. His cooking show first and then his books. In The Frugal Gourmet Cooks American he had a recipe for biscuits and gravy…eureka! I finally found a way to recreate that bucolic meal of my youth. This was a recipe for ,“Sawmill gravy” made with bulk sausage, years later my mom was making gravy for me and I discovered she had always made bacon gravy but as I said I didn’t know the difference.
Which is better? I like them both…but, sorry mom I like the sawmill version better.
This works great at home, but it really shines when camping. Most people would agree that food is always better eaten, “outside”. The gravy is dead easy and the biscuits while a little harder to do when camping, become easy with a good Dutch oven and some practice. I will write the home method and give some advice for camping after.
It is perfectly acceptable to used the “canned” pre-made ready to cook type found in grocery store’s refrigerated section, or even better or the pre-made frozen ready to cook variety. Follow the baking instructions provided.
I always made Bisquick or other variety of baking mix drop biscuits. Just follow the package directions. If you prefer scratch biscuits there are some great recipes here on Chow!
- 2In a good size frying pan with high sides (cast iron is best, especially camping) fry the sausage (I use the 1 lb chub) and onion until the sausage is browned (some recipes will tell you to drain off all but 2 tablespoons of grease…I won’t) I then take the canister of wondra and sprinkle it over the sausage to coat it very well, add enough of the flour so the pan looks “dry” and all the meat is coated and grease is absorbed. It will look a tan-ish brown. Let the flour cook a bit stirring to mix it. Once the flour has cooked, start adding the milk a little at a time stirring and scraping (I don’t measure the milk, I just keep adding it till the consistency looks good) the gravy will thicken as it cooks. Its a good idea to make it a little on the, “thin” side because it will thicken as it sits. Season it with liberal amounts of black pepper and taste it to see if it needs salt.
A bit of cayenne pepper is good if you like it hot.
- 3To make bacon gravy you can dice the bacon and fry it to render the grease, sprinkle in the flour and continue just as you do for the sausage gravy.
- 4To serve you can split the biscuit and spoon the gravy generously over the halves or as I do just break the biscuit into pieces in a pile and ladle away!
- 5To make biscuits while camping and impress and amaze your friends and family; find a Dutch oven, the type with 3 legs and a lid with tall sides. If it’s new season it well ( wash it, heat the oven to 350 coat the entire Dutch oven in vegetable oil (I like peanut, higher smoke point) put the coated pot and lid in the oven and let is “bake” 1 hour then turn the oven off and let the pieces cool with the oven, do this two or three times)
When you want cook the biscuits, light about 50 charcoal briquettes. When the briquettes are glowing find a flat non flammable surface ( dirt clear of anything that will catch fire) and arrange about 10 coals in two concentric circles, 4 coals making a small circle, 6 coals ringing them the outer circle should be a bit smaller than the size of your Dutch oven.
Put the prepared biscuits in the oven, sides touching. Put the lid on and set the oven over the coals. Arrange about 20 coals on the lid, you want more coals on the top than the bottom.
Cook for about 30-40 min’s then check the biscuits, add coals if needed….But be patient! don’t try to speed it up with more heat…or burn it, you will… And that’s not sexy
- 6Another tip for camping, use cast iron pans. With proper seasoning they are better than Teflon, they are near indestructible and the best part…the hold the heat so while you are sitting down to eat your food stays warm.
Member recipes are not tested by the CHOW food team.