Country Gravy

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Country Gravy
I was wondering if anyone had a recipe for Country Gravy. Being from the South, Biscuits and Gravy are a staple around out house, and everyone seems to enjoy the Pioneer Country Gravy mix that you can buy from the store. My wife and I however are trying to get away from pre-packaged foods as much as possible. The problem I am having is most gravy recipe's require the use of some sort of drippings as a base for the roux, but when only making Biscuits and Gravy there are no drippings from sausage or bacon. Even when we do use a sausage or bacon based roux, the taste is just not the same. Can anyone help me out with suggestions of alternatives to use as the base of the roux, and how I can get close to that diner style country gravy taste without using a mix?
 
Bill Hatcher 
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I always thought biscuits used a sausage based gravy? What taste are you going for? I've never had biscuits and gravy, always wanted to try it, but I would hazard a guess that it is a seasoning problem you're encountering. If you could describe the differences that you want and why the packaged one tastes better than your own it would help a lot.
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Our family loves breakfast for dinner.  So a while back I developed a sausage "gravy" for SOS in a dinner application. It's a more hearty gravy than traditional breakfast sausage gravy and is awesome over biscuits or the toast of your choice.

 

  • 1 pound ground beef or pork sausage

  • 1 Tsp Minced Garlic

  • 1/4 Cup Minced Onion

  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour

  • 1 tsp beef base

  • Salt & Pepper to taste

  • 1/2 Tsp Sage

  • 1 Tsp Basil

  • 1/2 Tsp Thyme

  • 2 cups milk

  • 1/4 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce

  1. Add garlic, onion, & desired meat in a large skillet & brown. Do not drain.

  2. Stir in flour, beef base. Cook all together for about 5 minutes or until flour is absorbed. Gradually stir in milk, spices and Worcestershire sauce.

  3. Bring all to a simmer, stirring as needed.

  4. Reduce until thickened, about 5 to 10 minutes.

 

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Lance
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mmmm that gravy sounds awesome. I am going to have to give it a try!
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Wamo, awesome let me know how you like it.
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Lance's recipe looks solid and will be a good starting point for you to get your "gravy legs." Just a couple of tips to think about while you work your way through a given biscuit gravy recipe:
  1. Don't over complicate what biscuit gravy is. At its simplest level biscuit gravy is an American derivative of the French Mother Sauce Bechamel, which is simply milk thickened with a white roux.
  2. To give your gravy a more intense flavor, you can make your roux using rendered sausage or bacon fat (instead of butter which is the classic choice). This is usually done by rendering the sausage in the same skillet you will be making your gravy in. Sausage is removed and secondary flavor enhancers like garlic, onions and shallots are sweated in the rendered fat over low heat. Once the aromatics start to release their aroma, the whole thing is dusted with a little flour to make a roux, which is cooked only long enough to come together.
  3. Whisk hot milk into the roux so that it doesn't seize on you and slowly bring to a simmer, checking for proper consistency. Add rendered bacon or sausage (sausage being the classic choice) back into the gravy.
  4. The most important step in making a good biscuit gravy is the seasoning. Gravy in general is heavy; the fat from the milk, butter and the overall thickness of the sauce will mute flavors. White pepper is a key component to that "classic" gravy flavor, but add it sparingly. You will also need to check for salt as it can also be muted by the gravy's viscosity (but will sometimes be sufficiently seasoned depending on the saltiness of the sausage or bacon you used).
  5. Fresh herbs and acid are the real secret to finishing a heavy gravy like this. You'll be amazed how much better your gravy will be with the simple addition of some lemon juice. It really helps to cut through the fat and balance the flavors. Also, always use fresh herbs over dried herbs when making a gravy; it really does make a huge difference.
  6. Cayenne also does a great job of seasoning and balancing flavors. Just a little pinch will brighten the flavors of your gravy without making it spicy, or you can add more for a good, strong kick.
Also you may have noticed that throughout this response I've referred to this gravy as "Biscuit Gravy" and not "Country Gravy." That's because depending on what region of the US you're in, some country gravies will be stock based while others will be milk based. However, it's pretty much accepted that the gravy one pours over biscuits is always milk based.
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1. These forums need a quote button.

2. "Whisk hot milk into the roux"

I have always been taught hot into cold or cold into hot. I seem to remember that we had this debate over on the FCS forums. Someone please refresh my memory on what the outcome was..
wchatcher
@Zalbar
You are correct the gravy typically used with biscuits is a sausage based gravy. The gravy that is marketed by Pioneer as Country Gravy is more of a creamy white pepper gravy and is used as a gravy for Chicken Fried Steak. This is the style more preferred by my family than a true sausage gravy.
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@ Zalbar,

You're correct but in this case it isn't necessary. When making a yellow roux and especially a dark roux, the butter and flour will get much hotter then the boiling point of water and will separate when added to the liquid if not allowed to cool. Since white gravy uses a white roux, it's only necessary to cook the roux just enough to allow the flour and fat to combine. The white roux doesn't cook long enough to become super hot. The rest of the starchy flavor of the flour will be cooked out during the simmering stage.

Also, when making a roux with other components in the pot, it seems to be much more forgiving when liquid is added directly. When it's just a piping hot roux with nothing to diffuse the climbing temperature, that's when you usually run into problems.

This technique is commonly referred to as "farine" which literally translates into "flour." You'll see it used a lot in old school stew and brown sauce recipes.
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Chef,  thanks for the analysis of my gravy.  And thanks to everyone for the follow up discussion, I learned a few things there.  I created this long before learning "proper" tequniqes.  I'll have to make some adjustments next time I make it. It's already a family favorite so now I'll have to try to top myself. wink

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@ kc,

If the recipe isn't broke, don't fix it. But I think if you work in a couple of the techniques discussed above, it will give you a more consistent product. Also, when you start looking at gravy as a technique instead of a recipe, then you'll be free to create all sorts of flavor combinations, eventually creating your own unique "recipe."
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@Jacob, point well taken. :-)
wchatcher
I want to thank everyone who responded.  I was able to make a basic Bechamel using clarified butter with salt and pepper to taste and the family loved it.  Making the clarified butter was a lot of fun having never done it before, unfortunately my youngest threw out half of my clarified butter while cleaning the dishes.  Ah the joys of parenthood. Now to the fun part, experimentation!! Next time I am going to try to add a little chicken stock and then after that try adding some Basil, Sage and Thyme. Yum!!