Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

Saturday, April 04, 2020

Biscuits and gravy is one of my favorite southern breakfast dishes, and it's not hard to make. My dad requests it often, most recently when he visited us in Detroit last year. He still calls biscuits and gravy "SOS" from his days in the Army. (Shit on a shingle, in case you're wondering. Appetizing, huh?) It's sometimes made with ground hamburger instead of pork sausage, but I've only ever been interested in the pork version. Some people refer to it as sawmill gravy. It's basically like making a bechamel sauce with the addition of browned sausage. So, you'll need to brush off those roux making skills for this one. I promise it's easy though. Besides fresh buttermilk biscuits, the co-star of the show is the pork breakfast sausage, so use one that you really like. It's something I like to pick up from the butcher or meat counter where it's made in-house. Read below for my notes on the other ingredients.

Milk - Whole milk or evaporated milk will work here. I wrote the recipe so that it's portioned for two 12-oz cans of evaporated milk or 3 cups of whole milk. You can use something richer like half & half, but I don't find that to be necessary since it's thickened with flour. I have not tested this recipe with low-fat or dairy-free milk.

Sausage - A mild pork breakfast sausage works best. You want to get a loose raw sausage, not in casings. (Raw sausage patties are fine, you can just break up the meat.) The flavor of your sausage will determine what, if any, additional seasonings might be needed. I love using a sage or maple sausage, but otherwise, I'll add those subtle flavors in on my own. If you like a meatier gravy, use up to a full pound of sausage. As written, it's enough for flavor and helped stretch my ingredients. If your sausage doesn't render enough grease you can add butter to the skillet before making your roux.

Biscuits - You can use any of the biscuit tutorials on my blog; the simplest being the 3-ingredient biscuits from the last post. If you're cheating, frozen or canned biscuits are still an appropriate vehicle for sausage gravy.

Biscuits & Sausage Gravy

8 oz raw pork breakfast sausage (or up to 1 lb sausage, for a meatier gravy)
1/4 cup finely diced onion or shallot
2 tbsp butter, if needed
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups evaporated or whole milk
2 tsp cracked black pepper, or to taste
Kosher salt, to taste
1/4 tsp grated nutmeg (optional)
1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes (optional)
A few sage leaves, finely chopped (optional)
1 TBSP good quality maple syrup (optional)
8 baked biscuits, for serving

Active Time: 30 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
Yield: Serves 4
Recommended equipment (affiliate links): cast-iron skillet or another heavy-bottomed pan

Over medium-high heat, brown the pork sausage until fully cooked, breaking up the crumbles as small as you can. Try to get some color on the sausage, without burning it of course. Towards the end, stir in the diced onion and cook until the onion has softened. 

If you don't see at least a couple tablespoons of grease in the skillet, melt the butter to make up for it. Sprinkle the sausage with flour and stir until it's coated the sausage and then dissolved.

Gradually pour in the milk while stirring, being sure to scrape the sides of the skillet and any browned bits at the bottom.

Let the milk come to a gentle boil, then reduce your heat to low and simmer, stirring frequently. You can begin to season the gravy as it thickens. At a minimum, salt, and lots of black pepper. You'll need to do so by taste since amounts will depend on the sausage and your own preferences.

The gravy needs to cook for at least ten minutes, after which it should be thick enough to coat the back of a wooden spoon. You don't have to babysit it, but do remember to stir every couple minutes so that it doesn't scorch at the bottom. Adjust your seasonings if necessary.

To serve, split two small biscuits in half and ladle the sausage gravy over the bottom biscuits. Top with the other biscuit half. (Or, split one larger biscuit in half and top both with gravy.) Serve hot! I love adding a fried egg on the side, but this is a filling meal all on its own.

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  1. made this for breakfast (more like brunch, late lunch) this morning - absolutely amazing. I grew up making brown gravy, but I have always been a bit intimidated by white gravy. This was so accessible and delicious! Thank you!

  2. Looks delicious. It's a favorite of my brother-in-law but I've never made it.