I really, really enjoy my life in the South. I mean, I have a complete and utter love affair with Knoxville. Our winters get legitimately cold but are relatively short. Our summers are nowhere near as hot as places like Alabama, Georgia, and other places I have zero desire to live because I would spend from May-September sprawled out in front of my a/c unit eating ice cream. American Roots music is barely-sorta-maybe-kinda growing on me. There is a way cool local food scene. I love that Knoxville is full of natives who love their heritage, and transplants who bring diversity.
But let’s face facts. I’m a Yankee.
I say ‘you guys’ instead of ‘y’all.’ If you invite me to a tailgate, I will be wearing a collegiate tshirt and shorts instead of a dress, heels, and jewelry. I will always, always, always desire a winter full of snow, and I will confidently drive in that snow. My default tea selection is unsweetened.
There you have it. A leopard can’t change its spots.
So what business do I have posting a recipe for Sausage Gravy and Biscuits?
First of all, I gave birth to a native Tennessean. That has to buy me some street cred. Maybe she’ll even say ‘y’all’ someday (though she won’t hear it from me…). Second, I fully embrace the phrase ‘bless her heart,’ and even though I don’t say it with the right intonation, I still say it and love it. Third, if you give me a plate of fried okra, I will be yours forever.
Oh, and my Sausage Gravy and Biscuits? Yeah, they can hang with your Mamaw’s/Papaw’s/Aunt Bea’s. So that’s my street cred.
Sausage Gravy and Biscuits may be my favorite thing about the South. I mean, of course I Yankee it up by eating the gravy separate from the biscuit, but that’s only because I love each part so much, I don’t want any of the flavors to go unnoticed. I want to taste that butter in the biscuit. I want to taste that rich, creamy gravy. I want, I want, I want! (PS- for the photo, I made the BH sacrifice his biscuit for the gravy slathering. Oh, the things we do for love.)
After only ordering it in restaurants for the first four years we lived here, I decided to make my own. I partly wanted a solid southern recipe under my belt, and I partly wanted to be able to satisfy my craving wherever and whenever I wanted. The first part was to find the perfect biscuit recipe, which proved to be a very arduous/amazing task. I kissed a lot of biscuit frogs before I found my biscuit prince, but I’m now happily biscuit married to my favorite recipe. It didn’t take a lot of work to find my favorite gravy- I started and ended with the Tupelo Honey Cookbook, with a few tweaks to make it perfect.
The Ultimate Sausage Gravy and Biscuits. From a Yankee? Game on, y’all.
- 2 cups (9 oz) all-purpose flour; more for dusting
- 2 T baking powder (preferably aluminum free, such as Rumford)
- ¾ tsp kosher salt
- ½ cup (4 oz) cold unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces, plus 2 Tbs., melted
- ¾ cup buttermilk; more for brushing
- Sausage Gravy
- 8 oz ground pork breakfast sausage OR plain ground pork
- 1½ tsp unsalted butter
- 2½ T all-purpose flour
- 3 c half and half
- 1 tsp kosher salt, divided (more if you're using plain ground pork... less if you are using a commercial sausage)
- Freshly ground black pepper
- Make the biscuits:
- Preheat the oven to 375°F. Line a cookie sheet with parchment.
- Pulse the flour, baking powder, and salt in the food processor until combined. Add the cold butter and process with ten 1-second pulses; the butter should be the size of small peas. Transfer the mixture to a mixing bowl and freeze for at least 20 minutes**. Remove bowl from freezer, add the buttermilk and mix into the dry ingredients until the dough just barely comes together.
- Transfer the dough to a lightly floured work surface. Pat and roll it into a 1-inch-thick square. Using a floured 2-1/2-inch round biscuit cutter, cut out as many biscuits as you can, dipping the cutter in flour between cuts to prevent sticking and making sure to lift the cutter straight up, without twisting (this can be achieved if the biscuit gods are smiling down upon you... if not, no worries- they will still taste fabulous). Arrange the biscuits on the parchment-lined sheet.
- Gently gather the remaining dough scraps and press them into a 1-inch-thick rectangle. Cut out as many biscuits as you can and arrange them on the sheet. You should have 6 or 7 biscuits.
- Brush the tops of the biscuits with buttermilk and bake until golden-brown, 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush with the melted butter.
- While the biscuits are baking, make the sausage gravy:
- In a frying pan, crumble and brown the pork on high heat until no longer pink. Reduce the heat to medium, add the butter, and stir until melted. Add the flour and cook 4-5 minutes, stirring constantly until slightly browned. Continue stirring while adding the half and half and ½ tsp salt. Return the heat to high and whisk constantly for about 5 minutes, or until thickened. Add the pepper and remaining salt (more to taste) and serve immediately over biscuits or, if you're a Yankee, in a separate bowl along side one of the killer biscuits above. Don't forget the butter and jam.
I like a major sausage presence in my gravy, so I upped the meat content from 4 oz to 8 oz. If you're going to go, go big, I say!
I have not tried making the gravy with anything less than half and half, though you might be able to use whole milk. I am well-aware that this is a completely loaded and decadent breakfast, but I make it once or twice a year, and I want it to be completely loaded and decadent. YOLO.