Authentic Southern Sausage Gravy Recipe
Southern folks really love their biscuits and many of them put a lot of hard work into making them. This tasty bread is a staple of southern eating and is relatively easy to make. One of our favorite things to eat with biscuits is gravy.
I love gravy and have the waistline to prove it. Truth be told, I'm not really the kind of person to brag a lot, but my gravy is one of the things that I'm probably excessively proud of. My grandmother taught me how to make regular gravy when I was a kid and I will forever thank her for it.
When I was a teenager, my friend Theresia showed me step by step how to make sausage gravy. I've never forgotten her lessons and I have always greatly appreciated them. I may have tweaked this a little over time, but it is still her basic instruction that I am about to share with you.
There are a few notes before you get started:
- The absolute best breakfast sausage you can use for this recipe is the homemade stuff. If you've got a neighbor who makes it or know someone that does, then you are a very fortunate person. If you don't have access to the good stuff, I recommend Bob Evans or Jimmy Dean premium sausage, and I really like the sage style. The only problem with these is that they don't always give enough fat to make the gravy! Cheaper sausages don't taste as awesome, but usually provide plenty of grease.
- Sausage made with real maple syrup can get very sticky in this recipe. I love the sausage, but don't recommend it for this gravy.
- You can use any kind of milk for this gravy, though I prefer whole milk. Because you are using a thickening agent (flour), you can use the thinner skim or 2% milk. I would imagine you can also use soy, but I don't know what effect this will have on the taste of the gravy.
- You can also use heavy cream, but this will seriously impact your calorie count as well as your pocketbook - that stuff costs about $3 a pint and you need three to four cups for this gravy!
- Though you can use any kind of pepper, traditionally this gravy wants coarse ground black pepper.
- It would be to your advantage to save either sausage or bacon fat beforehand in case your sausage doesn't render enough to make your gravy. You can keep this stuff in the freezer until you need it.
Got it? If you're ready to make some awesome sausage gravy, turn off the telephone and the television because this is not a dish you can walk away from while it's cooking. This recipe will feed about six people or yield enough gravy for about eight biscuits.
I've also added photos from different steps of the cooking process to help you along.
- 1 pound breakfast sausage
- about 1/4 cup flour
- about four cups milk
- salt to taste
- coarse ground black pepper to taste
- 8 biscuits, cooked and hot
- Crumble sausage into small pieces in a large skillet or frying pan and cook over medium heat until thoroughly cooked.
- Remove sausage and drain thoroughly, remove all but approximately three tablespoons of the fat from the pan.
- Assemble the following things before returning your skillet to the heat: milk (open the container before continuing), flour, a spatula and a wire whisk. You will not have time to hunt for them after you begin.
- Return your pan to the burner and heat until the fat is bubbling.
- Slowly add in your flour while continuously stirring the fat/flour with a spatula. What you want is to get a very thick consistency but not so thick that it turns into a paste. Mix thoroughly but don't worry about the lumps at this point.
- Add in the milk about 1/4 cup at a time whisking vigorously. Each time you add milk, allow it to thicken before adding more. This can happen very quickly, especially if your heat is too high. Once you begin adding the milk, do not stop whisking. This will prevent sticking and get any lumps out.
- One your gravy is at your desired consistency, remove from heat, add the sausage back in and add your salt and pepper.
- Serve immediately over hot biscuits.
Basic Milk Gravy Tutorial - Watch This Before You Beginning Your Gravy!
Basic Gravy Making Rules Apply Here, Big Time
To be perfectly honest, gravy is either something you will do really well or very badly. There isn't any "okay" gravy, it's either perfect or it isn't. Maybe I am a Gravy Nazi (like the soup guy from that show about nothing), but I think a casual attitude towards making gravy means you just shouldn't be making it at all! Here are a few rules to live by when making sausage gravy:
- NEVER WALK AWAY FROM YOUR GRAVY WHILE IT IS COOKING! EVER!
- Don't cook your fat/flour so long that it starts to turn brown when making milk gravy - it should be white when finished.
- No lumps! If your gravy is lumpy keep whisking and they will come out. If you strain it to get the clumps of flour out, you're also throwing away your fat and your remaining gravy will be bland.
- Gravy should never be oily. If it's very shiny or glossy, you have not used enough flour in making your roux and adding a thickener at this point is useless beause it won't combine with the fat. I personally would never serve greasy gravy.
- Use cornstarch mixed with water to thicken only if you have added too much liquid to your gravy and as a last resort. For some reason, it ruins the consistency of gravy. This is why you add the milk a little bit at a time so your gravy doesn't end up runny.
- Never season your gravy until after it is completely cooked.
- The only seasonings for sausage gravy should be salt and coarse ground black pepper.
- Also, for sausage gravy (or any other milk based gravy, really), do not add butter, margarine or oil to your rendered fat unless you absolutely have to. If you do not have enough fat left after cooking your sausage, use saved bacon grease if you have it. You can also use saved rendered beef, pork or ham fat, but only if that meat has been cooked with no seasoning. You need to add fat to this gravy because you will be using milk and not broth or stock to complete the dish. If you add butter, margarine or cooking oil, the flavor of your gravy will be diminished.
- To reheat your gravy, do not microwave it. This won't alter the taste, but you will have an ugly, congealed mess. Drop some dollups of cold gravy into a medium-hot skillet then whisk in milk as needed.
© 2013 Georgianna Lowery