My dear friend Daniel has started a blog. It's not just any old blog...it's a FOOD blog. I met Daniel during my first year of grad school, and he graduated with Marcus. He also moved to NYC around the same time we did, and we were practically neighbors there. Many wonderful days and nights were spent in both our kitchens. Some time, I'll have to get him to tell you the story of the 4th of July when Jen and Daniel refused to buy a watermelon. Daniel is one of the best storytellers and cooks I know. Please be sure to check out his site Hungry Homo, where behind every recipe, there's a great story.
Now what Southern cook would be worth their salt (apologies to Jen) without their very own Biscuits and Sawmill Gravy Recipe? Now that I live in the Big Apple, I tend to get a little homesick and when that happens there is nothing like a Southern Dish to take me back home. One favorite of mine to make is my Mama Jean's Biscuits and Sawmill Gravy. I believe that the greatest thing about food is the story that comes behind it. You can go anywhere and get a biscuit, but you can't go anywhere and get my Mama Jean's Biscuits and Sawmill gravy. Well, except your own kitchen. Let me tell you a little bit about Mama Jean:
As a child growing up, some of my most formative experiences have happened in the kitchens of my grandparents. My Mama Jean (paternal grandmother) grew up in the country in Carrolton, Alabama. She came from a humble family pretty much not having a lot of anything that money could buy, but always in an abundance when it came to family and support and love.
She shared stories of taking baths in wash basins, using out houses, and killing chickens from the yard for food. As a young child, it seemed like I was hearing about a faraway land and culture. Standing wide-eyed in her kitchen she would tell me about hanging chickens upside down on a clothesline to get the blood out, and eating squirrels.
Once, Daddy and I had to rid the old house in the country of squirrels in the ceiling. We used a shotgun to scare them out, then I shot them with a 22 rifle, and put the squirrel carcasses into the hunting vest I was wearing. After the hunt, we went back to the house, me wearing a vest of squirrels. Mama Jean took them and cooked them. She told me never kill anything just for the sake of killing it. And we then ate squirrel.
Less than a year later, I was at her house playing with my new BB Gun. I had climbed her magnolia tree, and was keeping lookout. In a middle of the imaginary war I was fighting, I accidentally shot and killed a crow. Mama Jean was watching from the window. Petrified, I tried as fast as I could to dig a hole to put that crow in. It didn’t work. Mama Jean flew out of the house told me to get out of the tree and bring that bird inside. She then taught me how to clean and cook it. I literally ate crow. I never again shot anything living with my BB gun.
One of my greatest memories is when Mama Jean taught me how to make biscuits and sawmill gravy. Every time I make this, I’m right back there standing on top of a chair staring wide-eyed into Mama Jean’s perfectly seasoned cast iron skillet.
Now first, you have to make the biscuits. Everybody does them different, and that's okay. There are a lot of roads to get there, but at least you get there--ya know?? Now, in a pinch, you can use Bisquick. The directions are right there on the back of the box, and I know on more than one occasion that my Mama Jean used it. And my Granny J. And even me, the hungry homo. Now here is my biscuit recipe:
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoons sugar
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons butter, cubed
3/4 cup milk
Preheat your oven to 425. Mix all your dry ingredients. Drop in the butter cubes and work it together using your fingers. When you have something that looks like cornmeal, make a well in the center of the dough and put the milk in it. Knead the dough and continue adding the milk till it’s all in. Roll it out onto a floured countertop, and cut the biscuits using a biscuit cutter. Or you could do like Mama Jean and cut them with a water glass. (I used a biscuit cutter). Pop those in the oven, and in about 10-12 minutes, you will have fresh biscuits! When your biscuits are in the oven, grab your cast iron skillet, and start your gravy.
Don't be afraid if you aren't a "gravy person" (Jen) cause I'm not. This is the easiest gravy you will ever make.Now the secret to this gravy is the ingredients.
16 oz pork sausage (Jimmy Dean if you can find it--in the tube)
4 slices of bacon sliced into 1 inch pieces
1 pint heavy cream
salt and pepper to taste
In a large skillet (preferably cast iron) brown your sausage and bacon together. After finished browning, pour out all but a tablespoon or two of the grease. Add 1T flour to this and start stirring. The flour is gonna suck up all that fat left in the pan. Stir this around for a couple of minutes. This roux should not brown (this is a white gravy). Pour in the pint of heavy cream and start stirring. Add your salt and pepper at this point. Keep stirring. You are gonna stir this for 5-7 minutes without stopping. The gravy will thicken. Taste it and correct your seasoning--and you are done!
Your biscuits should be just about ready to come out of the oven. When they do, cut them in half and put on a plate. Pour some of this gravy over it, grab a fork, and enjoy. Now I can not be responsible if after you eat this, you just walk right over to your significant other and slap 'em right acrost the face. This is THAT good. Come on over to my blog and tell me how you liked the recipe. I'd love to hear you share your story. There's nothing like getting your family (in whatever capacity you qualify it) around that table eating, talking, laughing, and enjoying each other. It's what we like to call "fellowshippin'".
Leave a comment here or hop on over to Hungry Homo and let Daniel know how much you enjoyed this recipe and story! He's participating in NaBloPoMo, so there will be a new recipe each and every day this month.