When I was growing up in Kentucky, if we had fried chicken for supper (not “dinner” where I come from), you can bet there’d be gravy made from the ‘drippins’ in the pan. In fact, my grandfather wouldn’t even come to the table until the gravy was ready. Sometimes we’d get it at breakfast, if Mama had fried up some sausage in her ol’ cast-iron skillet. However she made it, we couldn’t get enough of the stuff – smooth and creamy, with a bit of the flavor of the meat that’d preceded it in the frying pan. My eating habits are fairly healthy now, of course, but every so often a feller just wants a bit of gravy spooned over some biscuits.
Here’s a recipe for gravy as I was taught to make it. This is obviously not a low-calorie, low-fat dish, but then it’s not as if we eat this everyday (anymore). Fix it up, serve it to some hungry folks, and then, as they used to say, “stand back and receive the compliments!”
INGREDIENTS AND METHOD
- 1 or 2 sausage patties, crumbled, or an ounce or two (30-60 gm) of sausage meat
- 2 to 3 (30-45 ml) tablespoons oil, a light one such as canola
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) flour (use all-purpose flour, or wheat flour may be used)
- ½ teaspoon (2 ml) salt
- ¼ teaspoon (2 ml) black pepper
- 2 cups (500 ml) milk (for richer gravy, use half-and-half, or cream if you dare!)
The first step is to fry up the sausage. Using a heavy frying pan, fry the sausage in the oil over low heat until it’s good and brown, and enjoy the delicious aroma that’ll start to fill your kitchen. When the sausage is all fried, ensure that you have at least an eighth of an inch or so of oil still left in the pan. Pour off any excess and return the pan to the heat.
Then, add the flour, salt, and pepper to the sausage and oil. Stir to mix, and cook, again over low heat, until the flour just begins to brown. Keep an eye on things, because when the flour starts to brown, it gets brown fast! Immediately add the milk, and turn up the heat just a bit. You must add all the milk all at once, and mix well, or you run the risk of lumpy gravy. That wouldn’t be good – in the South, lumpy gravy is the sure sign of “someone that dudn’t know what they’re doin’!” If it’s lumpy, you’ll feel called upon to apologize for your lack of skill, and you don’t want that.
Stir constantly, as the gravy will begin to thicken and you don’t want it to stick to the pan. This stuff is so good you’ll want every bit of it you can scrape out of the pan. Besides, burnt gravy can impart a less-than-desirable flavor to the gravy, and also makes washing up more difficult.
Once the gravy does start to thicken, here’s where you adjust the consistency. If you like it very thick, do nothing as it’ll get nice and thick, especially if you allow it to stand for a few minutes before serving. If the gravy gets thicker than you like, add a small amount of water to thin it. I like it just between pourable and spoonable.
Just before serving, you should taste a bit of the gravy, and adjust seasonings. I usually find that I want just a bit more salt and pepper than the recipe specifies. The gravy’s finished when it’s seasoned to your taste and at the consistency you prefer. The traditional way it’s eaten is over homemade buttermilk biscuits, or as an accompaniment to chicken or breakfast meats. It’s even good just ladled over plain bread or mashed potatoes.