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Biscuits and Gravy

Monday, November 17, 2014

Recipe adapted from Betty Crocker's Cookbook (biscuits) and  Lauren's Latest (gravy).  [Recipe serves 6 to 8].

When I go out for breakfast or make something special at home, I typically go for a nice pastry or a freshly made bagel smothered in cream cheese.  But when a warm plate of homemade biscuits and gravy is offered, I'll opt for the stick-to-your-ribs dish any day.  Growing up, we used to make Betty Crocker's baking powder biscuits (or biscuit sticks) for special meals, so incorporating that recipe with a rich, savory sauce screams comfort to me.  The specific gravy recipe I used was a first for me, and with a few changes, it proved to be a success.  It originally called for a decent amount of maple syrup, but I found that it quickly overpowered the dish.  Rather, taking the syrup out completely and upping my favorite herbs kept the dish heavy on the savory side.  As long as the roux proportions are kept the same, the recipe is completely forgiving as far as what herbs and spices you wish to use.

INGREDIENTS:

Biscuits:
2/3 cup shortening
16 5/8 ounces (~3 1/2 cups) all-purpose flour
5 teaspoons baking powder
1 1/2 teaspoon salt
(up to) 1 1/2 cup milk

Gravy:
1 pound ground pork
1 tablespoon brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon dried sage
1/4 teaspoon ground dried rosemary
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried marjoram
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
Pinch ground cayenne pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil
1 medium white onion, finely diced
1 1/2 ounces (~5 tablespoons) all-purpose flour
3 cups whole milk

DIRECTIONS:

Preheat the oven to 450° F.

For the biscuits, add the flour, baking powder, and salt to a large mixing bowl.  Add the shortening and use a pastry blender until the shortening has turned into fine crumbs.  Add and stir in just enough milk so that the dough leaves the sides of the bowl, but isn't sticky.

Transfer the dough to a floured surface and gently knead the dough 10 times.  Roll out to a thickness of 1-inch, and use metal rings of your desired size to shape your biscuits.  [Side note:  This recipe makes roughly six 3-inch biscuits or eight 2 1/2-inch biscuits].  Re-knead any scraps to make additional biscuits.  Place the biscuits to a cookie sheet lined with parchment paper.  Transfer to the oven and bake for 12 minutes, or until golden brown and cooked through.  Transfer to a cooling rack while you prepare the gravy.

For the gravy, heat a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium heat.  While pre-heating, combine the pork, brown sugar, salt, pepper, sage, rosemary, thyme, marjoram, nutmeg, and cayenne in a large bowl.  Reserve.

Once the skillet is up to temp, add the oil followed by the diced onions.  Cook for 5 minutes.  Then add the pork mixture and cook until no longer pink, roughly 8 minutes.  Stir in the flour and cook for an additional minute.  Add one-third of the milk and stir until a thick sauce is formed.  Add the remaining milk and stir until combined.  Increase the heat to medium-high and bring to a boil.  Once boiling, remove from the heat and season to taste.

To serve, break a biscuit in half and ladle on as much gravy as you wish.

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