You wouldn’t know it to look at him, but my husband is a real country boy. Underneath his suit and tie there lurks a hunter, a fisher, a fresh-tomatoes-pulled-from-the-back-garden-for-dinner-lover and a secret pick-up truck fan. And I love that about him.
Sometimes I’ll ask him to tell me a Little Andy Story. I love to hear about his childhood and about the experiences that made him the man I fell in love with. We both agree that our favourite Little Andy Stories are the ones that involve his grandmother. She was a proper old-school country lady who baked bread every day, was active at her small church and could cook any type of meat that her family of hunters happened to bring her that day.
Andy will tell stories of being woken up by his father when it was still dark outside. They’d load up their things, and head into the cold and silent Georgia woods first thing on a Saturday morning to hunt. They’d sit, hidden in camouflage, in the trees, waiting for deer or wild turkey. It was peaceful and beautiful and Andy loved being outdoors, being with his father, even if they didn’t shoot anything that morning.
Once the sun was well and truly up and the animals had most likely taken cover for the day, Andy and his dad would head out of the woods and over to his grandmother’s house for breakfast. Her home was warm and snug, with a woodburning stove and walls lined with family pictures. After a morning of hunting, Little Andy would be very hungry. And his favourite breakfast was, and is, biscuits and gravy.
I know that for the non-Americans reading here, this whole story will sound weird (guns! hunting! gravy on top of cookies!) but don’t worry. Your definition of a biscuit and our definition are totally different. You say biscuit, we say cookie. You say scone, we say… that’s KIND of like a biscuit. Oh, and the gravy is a white gravy. Y’all are having your minds blown right now, aren’t you?
Biscuits and gravy is a good old fashioned country-style breakfast. It’s warm and meaty with the contrasting textures of the thick, smooth gravy and the fluffy biscuit with crunchy edges. I made biscuits and gravy last weekend to celebrate Andy’s birthday. My version wasn’t nearly as good as his grandmother’s, but, hopefully, I’ve got years to perfect my version for Big Andy.
2 cups plain flour
1 tbs baking powder
1 tsp salt
100g butter, cut into small chunks
1 cup butter milk
Preheat your oven to 200C (about 400F) and line a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
It’s best to start with VERY cold ingredients when making biscuits. Go head and measure everything out and place the ingredients in the fridge for 5 minutes to chill.
Once chilled, place all the dry ingredients in a mixing bowl. Add the butter and cut it into the flour. A pastry cutter would be great for this, but I just used my fingers to rub the butter into the flour. You want to end up with small (smaller than a pea) pieces of butter all through the flour.
Make a well in the centre of your ingredients and pour in the buttermilk. DON’T STIR MUCH! The secret to nice biscuits is to NOT handle the dough too much. Stir just enough to combine the ingredients.
Dump the dough out onto a floured counter and pat it together so it’s even and about 1 1/2 inches thick. If it’s simply too sticky (which happened to me recently!) sprinkle the top of the dough with a bit more flour.
Using a SHARP cooking cutter or knife, cut out your biscuits. Don’t press down and twist, this will make the layers of the biscuits stick together and they won’t rise. Just press down and lift out.
Place the biscuits on the prepared tray with their edges touching. This will help them rise more. Pop them in the oven for about 20 minutes, or until they are golden brown.
3 breakfast sausages or 250g sausage meat
about 2 tbs flour
about 1 cup full-fat milk
salt and pepper
The measurements for this gravy are approximate. That’s because making gravy is an art and not a science. The amounts you’ll use depend on how much sausage grease you start with.
If you’re using whole sausages, take them out of their skins. Break your sausages into small chunks and brown them in a pan with a little bit of vegetable oil.
Remove the chunks of sausage from the pan and pour off all but about 1-2 tbs of the grease. Return the pan to a VERY low heat and sprinkle in the flour. Use a fork or a whisk to slowly stir the flour into the grease, forming a paste. Don’t allow any lumps to form during the process. Once the paste has formed, allow it to cook and brown for a few minutes before adding the milk. It will give the end product more flavour.
Once you’ve got a smooth browned paste, pour in your milk little by little, whisking the whole time. Keep this up until you have a smooth, thick gravy. It takes a while over low heat, but don’t be tempted to turn the heat up to speed it along. You’ll only curdle your milk or cause the flour paste to get lumpy.
Once you’ve incorporated all your milk, season your gravy with salt and plenty of black pepper. Taste it as you go to make sure you have a very flavourful gravy. Then, add your chunks of cooked sausage back to the gravy to reheat.
Split your biscuits in half and top each half with spoonfuls of your gravy and sausage mixture.