Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Biscuits and Gravy

I'm making this for supper tonight, and I wanted to type it up before I start cooking. It's an excellent recipe, but I never keep cake flour in the house, so I have to substitute a ratio of flour and cornstarch. Having to do math while cooking (and keeping children from ruining the house and/or killing each other) makes for a stressful kitchen experience. So I'm typing it up here with the flour/cornstarch substitution, and also breaking it down a little more so I don't try to add the wrong things at the wrong time.

(The recipe I am using is from the wonderful Noble Pig: here are the two different recipes as posted there-- Buttermilk Biscuits, including tips on how to make good biscuits, and Sausage Gravy .)

This recipe intrigued me because it used a stand mixer instead of cutting the butter in. Not that I've ever found biscuits hard to make, but I'm all for even easier biscuits!

Basic Buttermilk Biscuits

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1/4 tsp. baking soda
Whisk together and set aside.
  • 1 1/4 cup + 1 T flour
  • 3 T cornstarch
  • 5 T cold vegetable shortening, cubed
  • 4 T cold butter, cubed
  • 1 1/4 cups buttermilk
  • 2 T melted butter
Preheat oven to 450°. Grease a cookie sheet, or use parchment paper or a silicone baking mat. Whisk flour and cornstarch together in the bowl of a stand mixer. Using the paddle attachment, pulse this mixture with the shortening and butter until fats are pea-sized flakes. Mix in the other flour mixture just until blended. Add buttermilk to dry ingredients and mix just until moistened. The dough will be wet.

Turn dough onto floured surface and knead just until dough holds together. Flour your hands and pat dough into a 1"-thick circle. Use a 2" biscuit cutter to cut out 10 biscuits. Do not twist cutter.

Put biscuits on baking sheet and bake until golden, 15-18 minutes. Brush tops with melted butter during last few minutes of baking.

And, in the interest of having this recipe for the next time I make it for the Vaughan clan, here is the ingredient list when doubled.
  • 3 cups flour
  • 4 tsp. baking powder
  • 1 tsp. table salt
  • 1/2 tsp. baking soda
Whisk together.
  • 2 1/2 + 2 T flour
  • 6 T cornstarch
  • 10 T cold vegetable shortening, cubed
  • 8 T (1 stick) cold butter, cubed
  • 2 1/2 cups buttermilk
  • 4 T melted butter

Sausage Gravy

  • 4 strips thick-sliced bacon, diced
  • 1 lb. pork breakfast sausage
  • 1 T minced fresh sage (or 1 tsp. dried, in the dreary depths of winter)
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 3 1/2 cups whole milk
  • Black pepper
Cook bacon in saute pan. When bacon is nearly crisp, stir in sausage and sage, breaking up any clumps. Cook sausage until browned, 8-10 minutes. Transfer bacon and sausage to bowl; reserve drippings.

Sprinkle flour into hot dripping while whisking continuously. Whisk until mixture thickens and begins to brown. Whisk in milk. Cook gravy over medium-high heat, whisking until thickened and flour taste is eliminated, about 15 minutes. (That line always confuses me, since I don't taste the flour, but anyway, till it's nice and thick.) Season gravy with pepper to taste. Stir bacon and sausage into gravy; serve with biscuits.

Not that the buttermilk biscuits up top there are hard, but I do have a standby biscuit recipe that is even easier, and it doesn't require a mixer or pastry cutter. Biscuits are a great Sunday lunch item, since you can have them 15 minutes after you walk in the door.

Cook's Country Quick and Easy Cream Biscuits

  • 2 cups flour
  • 2 tsp. sugar
  • 2 tsp. baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp. table salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream
Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and preheat oven to 450°. Line baking sheet with silicone mat or parchment paper, or grease the pan. Whisk together the flour, sugar, baking powder and salt in medium bowl. Stir in cream with a wooden spoon until dough forms, about 30 seconds. Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and gather into a ball. Knead the dough briefly until smooth, about 30 seconds. Shape the dough into a 3/4" circle, then use a biscuit cutter (or inverted glass) to cut out biscuits. You can also just cut them in wedge shapes, like a pizza. Place biscuits on the baking sheet. (Baking sheet can be wrapped in plastic wrap and refrigerated for up to 2 hours.) Bake until golden brown, about 15 minutes, rotating baking sheet halfway through baking.

Note: Since I started this post on a Wednesday afternoon and it is now Sunday evening, I have already made this recipe. It was much less stressful this time around, since I had the correct list of ingredients. I did take a picture, but trust me, seeing a picture of sausage gravy is not going to make you want to make it. It looks like something the dog would leave behind-- it is super yummy, though.

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