Carry on a Southern tradition with this stick-to-your-ribs dish
Eat biscuits from a tube? Good gravy! That’s unthinkable.
To many Southerners, biscuits and gravy is a basic dish, almost too simple to require a recipe. To the uninitiated others, the idea of crafting a biscuit from scratch is downright frightening. So, the tender rounds that once were a fixture at almost every meal — a soul-satisfying stick-to-your-ribs side that sustained countless cowboys — have all but disappeared, only to be replaced by the variety sold in a cardboard tube.
Fortunately, reversing this alarming trend is as easy as preparing a hearty breakfast. No sooner than the buttermilk biscuits have gone in the oven, first to rise and then to bake, the sausage begins to hiss from the skillet’s heat. A few simple spices, flour and milk simmer in the pan to create a creamy sauce.
A warm, fluffy biscuit, split down the middle and face up on the plate is blanketed with a rich, sausage gravy. As it should be, according to Southern conventional wisdom.
3 cups White Lily all-purpose flour (see note)
1 tablespoon sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
½ teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons (1 stick) unsalted butter, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
4 tablespoons vegetable shortening, cut into ½-inch pieces and chilled
1¼ cups buttermilk
¼ cup White Lily all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon whole fennel seed
1½ teaspoons poultry seasoning
1½ teaspoons fresh, cracked pepper
1 pound pork sausage
2 cups whole milk
To make the biscuits: Preheat oven to 450 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or Silpat. In the bowl of a food processor, combine the flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda, salt, butter and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal. Transfer mixture to large bowl and stir in buttermilk until thoroughly combined.
Lightly flour a surface and knead dough until smooth. Form dough into 9-inch circle, about ¾-inch thick. Dip a 3-inch biscuit cutter in flour, cut dough into rounds and transfer to the prepared baking sheet. Gather remaining dough, pat into a circle and cut out remaining biscuits.
Place pan in the center rack of the oven and bake for 5 minutes. The biscuits will have begun to rise. Rotate the pan and reduce the oven temperature to 400 F. Bake another 12 to 15 minutes, or until golden brown. Remove biscuits and transfer to wire rack to cool.
To make the gravy: Combine flour, fennel, seasoning and pepper in small bowl and whisk to combine. Cook sausage in large skillet over medium heat, breaking up meat until no longer pink.
Sprinkle flour mixture over sausage and continue cooking. Stir until flour has been absorbed, then slowly add in milk. Stir to combine. Turn down heat and simmer mixture until sauce has thickened.
Split biscuits in half on a plate and ladle gravy on top.
Note: For tender fluffy biscuits, reach for White Lily all-purpose flour, a trusted staple of Southern pantries. It really does make a difference.