Biscuits & Gravy

Growing up in South Carolina, biscuits and gravy were an important part of a Southern breakfast. I didn’t really care what type they were–flaky, buttery, crunchy–as long as they were covered in some sort of savory sauce with maybe a little sausage or bacon crumbled in.

When I moved away from the South, I desperately missed this bit of home. Everything seemed to be either dinner rolls of biscuits from a pop-can that honestly still terrify me. So I started making my own.

I tried several recipes, but ultimately the best biscuit for biscuits and gravy isn’t a perfect, buttery, fluffy biscuit with its differentiated layers. What makes a good biscuit for gravy is nooks and crannies. Enter the drop biscuit, known for its simple recipe and no-fuss spirit. Mix your ingredients. Form into a ball. Bake. It’s that easy.

The Biscuit

  • 2 cups self-rising flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1/2 stick unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
  • 2/3 cup whole milk
Chunked butter cubes in flour.

Pre-heat oven to 425F.

In a large bowl, sift together the flour, salt, and any spices you want to add. The above ingredient list can be added to however you see fit. Throw in some Parmesan cheese or fresh rosemary or any other dried herb you want. Be creative! In grad school, I used to make what I dubbed Simon and Garfunkel biscuits because they had parsley, sage, rosemary, and thyme plus a bunch of cheese. Delicious and punny!

Cut the butter into tiny cubes by cutting the stick into thirds, turning it over, and cutting into thirds again. Then slice that until it forms tiny cubes. Add the cubes to your flour mixture and work with your fingertips until it starts to form lumps and come together. Add milk and mix just until it becomes a sticky dough, being careful not to overwork.

Note the imperfect glory of the drop biscuit. No tools needed but your hands.

Then you’ll form the dough into small balls and place on a oiled baking sheet.  I like to have as much surface area as possible, so I usually make somewhere between 8-10 biscuits with this recipe so I can eat more than one!

Bake until flaky, approximately 11 minutes depending on size; you’ll know they’re done when the peaks are getting a little brown. Remove from the oven and let cool slightly on the baking sheet.

Nooks AND crannies!

The Gravy

  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 2 tbsp flour
  • 2 cups broth

There are so many ways to make gravy–with milk, with coffee, with meat, with cream. There’s the flour and cornstarch divide as well.

For this recipe, I prefer a velouté or espagnole sauce. These are both part of what are known as the mother sauces in French cooking. Both are roux-based sauces, which we talked about when making cheese sauce awhile back, but instead of adding milk, you add either chicken broth (for velouté) or beef broth (for espagnole). But why stop with that when you could also use mushroom broth or duck broth even. (Of course you had your own at home because it’s so simple.)

A good looking roux.

Melt your butter over medium-high heat. When melted add the flour and stir to combine. This is your roux.

After you’ve made this, add the broth of your choice slowly until it comes together to a consistency that you like. Taste your gravy for salt and add if needed. Here you can also add spices of your choosing. (I put in some thyme and black pepper here.)

Gravy with polish mushroom broth and beef bone broth with thyme and black pepper.

To serve, put the gravy on top of or underneath your biscuit and devour. Savory. Crunchy. Fatty. It’s everything you want in comfort food.

This is definitely a spoon-eating biscuit dish.

Bonus Recipe – Preserves!

Want to go sweet instead of savory? We can do that too, especially since it’s the season of peaches and blackberries.

Making your own preserves is simple. It’s just fruit, sugar, lemon, and heat.

First, pick your fruit of choice. You’ll usually want about two cups, chopped. If you’re using fruit with skin (peaches, nectarines, apples), you’ll need to remove any skin, seeds, or stones. If you’re going with berries, just wash them, and they’re good to go.

Add 1/2 cup of sugar and a tablespoon of lemon to your fruit and turn the stove to medium-low. Once the heat comes to temperature, the sugars will begin to melt. At this point, stir your fruit and turn the stove to low. Now you can also add any spices or herbs or other flavors you like. Let your fruit mixture simmer for about one hour, stirring occasionally.

When done, put your preserves into a jar or tupperware. It’ll keep in the fridge for up to two weeks or until something starts growing on it.

Homemade peach preserves with sherry and black pepper.

I hope you fall in love with these easy biscuits as much as I have!

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