Thursday, February 20, 2014

Sunday Breakfast: Biscuits and Gravy

A few years ago, I set out with the goal of making biscuits.  My grandma would put some flour in a bowl, put a little milk in it and then stir, put the dough on the counter, cut out the biscuits with a jelly glass, put them in the cast iron skillet, bake them, take them out of the oven and then put some butter on top.  I had her write down her recipe. It's basically like 4 cups of self rising flour and 2 cups of milk.  Yes, I've tried it but it was just a gluey mess.

Homemade Biscuits Homemade Bacon Gravy Breakfast
Biscuits and Gravy

I've tried several recipes and this one is adapted from Alton Brown's Southern Biscuit recipe. In mine, I only add 2 teaspoons of baking powder.  I don't care for a heavy baking powder taste. It is actually meant to increase the volume and lightening the texture of baked foods.  You can also use 4 tablespoons of shortening if you don't have 2 tablespoons of butter.  If you don't have buttermilk, you can put 3/4 of a cup of milk and a 1/4 cup of lemon juice to substitute.

The ingredients are:
2 cups all purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/4 teaspoon baking soda
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
2 tablespoons softened butter
2 tablespoons shortening
1 cup cold buttermilk

Set the oven to 450 degrees F.

Stir the dry ingredients, the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a medium bowl.
With your hands, mix in the butter and shortening until the butter and shortening are the size of peas.
With a spoon, move the flour around the edge of the bowl, so you have a well in the middle and can see the bottom of the bowl.  Pour the buttermilk in the bowl and stir until the dough is sticky.

Pour the dough on a floured surface.  I have thin plastic cutting boards that I save for rolling my dough out. Lightly knead the flour. I usually turn the dough over and knead a few times until the dough is not crumbly and won't stick to your hands when you touch it. Personally, like mine big, but that means less biscuits.  For 6 biscuits, I leave the dough about 1 1/2 inches thick. You can use a biscuit cutter or a glass jar to cut out the biscuits.

Put the biscuits in an ungreased 12 inch wide cast iron skillet and bake the biscuits for 15-20 minutes until golden.

For a bonus, I'm going to explain the technique of gravy.  Homemade gravy is hard to make.  It's actually perfected over time with practice. I've only made it a few times and Sunday was my best pan of gravy yet.  If you're not familiar with gravy, you can make it with any kind of meat grease.  My grandma always made pork chop gravy.  Not the healthiest thing in the world, but one of the tastiest things in the world.

This is what I used to make gravy enough for two.

6 strips of bacon cut in half, so that's 12 half pieces of bacon
2 cups milk
1/2 cup of flour (this is an estimate, I actually poured it out of the flour sack)
salt and pepper to taste

I used half of the bacon, fried it and then put the bacon of a plate covered with a paper towel.  I then fried the other half of the bacon.  I turned the heat of the gas stove-top on medium-low. I poured probably 1/4 cup of flour into the medium hot grease.  I stirred the flour as it browned with my favorite silicone whisk. As the flour browned, I poured half of the milk into the skillet.  You have to work fast so that the flour doesn't burn.  I whisked and whisked to get the lumps out of the gravy.  I added a little more flour and added more milk.  The gravy got to the right consistency.  I added a few dashes of salt and pepper.

If the gravy hardens after it starts to cool down, add milk after you warm the gravy back up. My grandma would make thick gravy, but I like my gravy thin.

I split a biscuit and poured the gravy over the biscuit and then garnished the biscuit and gravy with crumbled bacon.

If your biscuits or your gravy doesn't work out.  Don't give up! Like pretty much everything in life, it takes work and practice.

If you have any questions about them, please feel free to let me know!

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