I was reminded several days ago by a friend, of biscuits and gravy – a meal I cherish being a southern girl – but one I seldom create. Talk about a heart attack on a plate! So as my once a year tribute to biscuits and gravy here are photos and basic instructions!
Slowly cook a pound of bacon in a cast iron skillet – hence the “greazy skillet” phrase, which comes from Blackberry Winter Band member Van Colbert. When the bacon is cooked to your liking remove it to an absorbant surface and keep the renderings (fat) in the skillet.
With the heat on low to medium add enough flour to the hot grease to make a malleable paste. Not too thin allowing the grease to separate out nor too thick avoiding a glom of paste. Stir this near constantly as the grease and flour brown. This is called a roux. The flavor of milk gravy can be controlled by the darkness of the roux. The lighter it is in color the more gentle the flavor. The darker the roux the more robust. Today I choose a very dark roux partly to show off the color and partly for flavor. IF you burn a roux – THROW IT OUT! Scrub the pan well and start completely OVER! Never try to salvage a burned roux. Once it goes over it’s done. When the roux is to your liking turn the heat up, stir constantly, then add enough milk to 1/2 way fill the pan (this is a “learned” task, takes a bit of experience to know how much). Stir vigorously and constantly until the gravy comes to a light simmer, turn down the heat and allow to simmer slowly.
The darkened roux. This is quite dark and very flavorful. The gravy will thicken and cook down some after the milk is added and as we finish the biscuits.
Cutting in the shortening; into the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. You will dump the milk in all at once and stir with a fork just until the dry ingredients are wet. Turn this dough out of the bowl onto a WELL floured surface. I use wax paper for ease in cleanup. A large wooden cutting board is great for this task also.
The biscuit dough turned out onto a heavy layer of flour. Turn it in on itself ten times only, gathering up stray bits while gently pressing together. DO NOT overwork this dough.
Gently pat the dough out to about 3/4 to one inch thick. I am lazy at this point. I like square biscuits. You might not like them. Insert smiley face here –> Use a round cutter if you must! Always cut in one direction only, never “saw” back and forth.
Carefully place the biscuits on a baking sheet just a little ways apart from each other and pop into a hot oven, 425-450 degrees F. As an aside; I purposely left the one biscuit askew for my OCD friends to fret over. Sorry peeps…I gotta get my kicks when and where I can! Bake for about 12 minutes and remove when the tops are browned and firm to the touch.
Hot and ready to eat!
The finished gravy. You can see how it has thickened. This is much more dark than I usually make my milk gravy, but quite tasty!