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Monday, April 13, 2015

Sausage Gravy (Sawmill Gravy)

When it comes to breakfast, I pretty much like everything about it. I love oatmeal, scrambled eggs, breakfast meats (especially bacon), toast, pancakes, waffles, and fluffy, buttery biscuits. Biscuits aren't biscuits without some creamy sawmill gravy on top.

Gravy is tricky. There's a science to making gravy that can be a bit difficult. First you have to make the rue. A rue is a combination of fat and flour that acts as the thickener in gravy or sauce. The general rule is equal parts fat and flour and 2 Tbsp fat and 2 Tbsp flour per cup of liquid. This is the same way that you would start homemade cream of chicken or vegetable soup. The difference is that you will want to use only milk as your liquid for gravy.

Some people like white gravy while others like it dark. The only difference between the two is how long you cook the rue. If you leave the temperature low and continue stirring constantly you can cook the flour to a nice golden brown color or even darker for more flavor. Personally I like my gravy very white.

Once you have the fat:flour:liquid ration right gravy is a snap. You'll become a gravy expert in no time. The only other thing you need to know is this: If you cook your sausage first and leave the drippings in the pan (and sometimes leave a few crumbles of sausage in the pan as well) your gravy will have the most possible flavor. Then all you need is a little salt and a lot of pepper and your gravy will be perfect!

This gravy is ideal for biscuits and gravy but it's also quite good over breakfast casserole, fried chicken, chicken fried steak, and mashed potatoes.

Sausage Gravy (Sawmill Gravy)

Source: Mamaw Allison's Recipe

1/2 cup (1 stick) unsalted butter
1/2 cup all purpose flour
sausage drippings if available
4 cups milk (I use 2%)
1/2 tsp salt
a generous sprinkling of black pepper, fresh cracked is even better

Begin with a large, deep skillet. Non-stick is fine but if you have one that is not non-stick that's even better because you can use a wire whisk.

Cook your sausage and leave the drippings (and some bits of sausage if you like) in the pan. Over medium heat melt the butter. Wait until the butter is completely melted to add your flour.

Stir or whisk the flour and butter together to make the rue. It really is easier (and smoother) if you use the whisk. Now is the time to cook the rue to your desired darkness. I usually just cook it long enough to get all of it nice and bubbly but you can cook it on medium-low heat until the color pleases you.

Add 2 cups of the milk and whisk until the gravy is smooth (no lumps of flour) before adding the other 2 cups of milk. Whisk again until smooth.

Raise the temperature to medium-high and bring almost to a boil, stirring continuously to keep it from burning or sticking. (The flour will settle back to the bottom of the mixture and thicken rapidly. The continuous stirring will prevent this from happening and result in a smoother, more evenly cooked gravy.)

When the gravy is just beginning to really thicken turn the heat off. The residual heat from the pan and from the burner (if you're using an electric stove) will continue to thicken the gravy. I like mine thin enough to drizzle over my biscuits but Aaron prefers his quite a bit thicker.

Stir in the salt and pepper before serving.

Serve warm over fresh baked biscuits or breakfast casserole... or chicken or chicken fried steak or mashed potatoes.

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