Among the plethora of southern classics, biscuits and gravy is one of those quick fix comfort foods that takes me back to memories of wonderful meals in my grandmother’s kitchen. This dish is easy to prepare, very filling and can be made for breakfast or dinner with very few (and cheap) ingredients that are probably in your pantry right now. There are only two main building blocks of this recipe – the biscuits and a white gravy made with the meat of your choice. The biscuits can either be homemade or store bought. Before we get any angry posts suggesting that using canned biscuits is un-southern, let me say that I’ve provided a basic biscuit recipe below. But if you’re in a hurry or just plain lazy (as I am from time to time), there are some decent “whomp” biscuits out there; so named because you have to “whomp” them on the counter top to get the can open. At any rate, I’m sure it was a busy southerner who came up with idea of biscuits in a can in the first place.
Having said that, here’s a basic biscuit recipe. The Neely’s also have a great recipe for buttermilk biscuits on www.foodnetwork.com. Try both and pick your favorite.
- 2 cups self-rising flour
- 1/4 cup vegetable shortening
- 2/3 – 3/4 cups milk or buttermilk
Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Cut the shortening into the flour with a fork until the mixture resembles course crumbs. Mix in the milk until the dough just starts to pull from the sides of the bowl. Knead on a floured surface about two minutes to combine but don’t overwork it or will toughen up. Roll the dough out until it’s ½ inch think and cut out the biscuits with a biscuit cutter, drinking glass or empty tin can that’s been floured. Put the biscuits into the freezer for 10 minutes to cool down the shortening before baking the biscuits. You can use either an ungreased cooking sheet or a cast iron skillet to bake them, just make sure the sides of the biscuits are touching each other. This helps them rise up instead of out. Bake for 8 to 10 minutes or until desired color is achieved. Yield: 10-12 biscuits.
For the gravy, brown the meat in a skillet over medium heat and remove it for later use, leaving about 2 tablespoons of rendered fat in the pan. You can use just about any type of meat you’d like, although beef is probably the most common. If you use a lean cut of beef (or other lean meat like venison) there will be very little fat in the pan. If this is the case, melt two tablespoons of butter over medium heat. Add two tablespoons of flour to the fat and cook for 3-5 minutes to remove any raw flour taste. You now have a basic roux.
Over low/medium heat, whisk in 1-1 1/2 cups of milk and stir continuously until it thickens. Add the browned meat back to the gravy and stir to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Cook for 3-5 minutes to heat it through, then serve atop a freshly baked biscuit that’s been split (and preferably buttered). Note: the amounts in this recipe are not exact to allow for different amounts of rendered fat, desired thickness of gravy, etc. So, “eye-ball” the amount of milk you add to the roux, always starting with less than you think you’ll need. If the gravy is too thick, you can always add more milk to thin it out. If it’s too thin, let it cook a little longer before adding back the meat. This should help it thicken.
I hope you’ll try this southern classic in your kitchen. It ain’t healthy, but it’s good eatin’.