Friday, August 23, 2013

Biscuits and Gravy

by Ann

I like my hot foods hot.  I mean burn-your-lips-hot.  After pouring myself a cup of fresh coffee I put it in the microwave for 20 seconds because the little bit of creamer I've added cools it down too much.  With that said, even though I'd love to have some biscuits and gravy to go with my coffee, I won't be happy if I order them in a restaurant, because they won't be hot enough to suit my tastes.  

The solution?  Make my own, and with some prepared helpers it is amazingly simple, and truly delicious. We don't have this too often because of the fat gram count, but heck, if you can't have treats every now and then (ok.... I'll admit, I have regular treats...) life is no fun!

The short-cuts?  I use McCormick's "Original Country Gravy" mix, and typically Pillsbury "Grands" Buttermilk Biscuits. Since I had a quart of buttermilk on hand from a cake recipe I'd made a week before I looked online and found the recipe that I am sharing on the Southern website.  It was easy to prepare since a food processor was involved, and had lots of rave reviews.

First, make the biscuits (or open the can and put them on the lined baking sheet).
The ingredients are simple -- With the exception of buttermilk you would most likely have everything on hand.  A key to good pastry is to have the fat very cold.
Add the buttermilk slowly while the food processor is running.  It is surprisingly "wet,"  but with a bit of flour on the counter comes together to a beautiful tender consistency.
Pat into a 1/2" thick round without overworking the dough.
You don't want to develop the gluten in the flour  too much.
Cut and bake.  It really does make a difference to use a good cutter rather than a glass jar or a cheap plastic cutter because of the thin, sharp edge of the metal cutter.
Bake to "goldenly delicious"!
Buttermilk Biscuits using a Food Processor

2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the counter
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon kosher salt or 1 teaspoon salt
6 tablespoons unsalted butter, very cold
1 cup buttermilk (approx)

Preheat oven to 450°F.
  1. Combine the dry ingredients in a bowl, or in the bowl of a food processor.
  2. Cut the butter into chunks and cut into the flour until it resembles course meal.
  3. If using a food processor, just pulse a few times until this consistency is achieved.
  4. Add the buttermilk and mix JUST until combined.
  5. If it appears on the dry side, add a bit more buttermilk. It should be very wet.
  6. Turn the dough out onto a floured counter.
  7. Gently, gently PAT (do NOT roll with a rolling pin) the dough out until it's about 1/2" thick. Fold the dough about 5 times, gently press the dough down to a 1 inch thick.
  8. Use a round cutter to cut into rounds.
  9. You can gently knead the scraps together and make a few more, but they will not be anywhere near as good as the first ones.
  10. Place the biscuits on a cookie sheet- if you like soft sides, put them touching each other.
  11. If you like crusty sides, put them about 1 inch apart- these will not rise as high as the biscuits put close together.
  12. Bake for about 10-12 minutes- the biscuits will be a beautiful light golden brown on top and bottom.
  13. Do not overbake.

Note: The key to good biscuits is not in the ingredients, but in the handling of the dough.
The dough must be handled as little as possible or you will have tough biscuits.

Ok -- biscuits are done -- While they are baking get the sausage gravy going!  Since I typically prepare this "for two" (healthy) servings, I start with half of a 12 oz package of sausage.  I often buy the hot and spicy variety, which works well for this recipe.
Brown the sausage in pan.
Once again, ingredients are simple -- Mix, water, milk and hot sauce.
I always divide the package of gravy mix in half, one tablespoon at a time until I have two equal portions -- One to use now, and one later.  (Each half had 5 T of dry mix)
Once the liquid of half-milk, half-water has been added to browned sausage, dump in one of the containers of gravy mix.  Be sure to add a splash of hot sauce to perk up the gravy!
(Put the other half of the mix back in the envelope and seal it with a clip for next time.) 
Split a couple of biscuits in half and spoon gravy mix on.  Yum...
And because of you, our dear and faithful readers, my lips did not burn eating this due to needing to take some pics, but regardless, they were still a great treat -- and the coffee was scalding!


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