Sunday was day nine of the opened buttermilk, so after ranch dressing and scones, I thought buttermilk biscuits would finish off the quart nicely.
When we were in grad school in Arkansas, my husband fell in love with a kind of disgusting looking fast food called a Volcano. It consisted of broken up biscuits topped with sausage gravy in a giant Styrofoam cup. Although I never had one, I knew I could do better, and since the Volcano continued to live on in his fantasy cuisine, I figured out how to do it, just not in a Styrofoam cup.
Biscuits and gravy is a simple, but satisfying dish, made better here with homemade buttermilk-lard biscuits. The biscuits came out so well, I couldn’t stop taking pictures, obviously.
Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
Buttermilk Lard Biscuits
Preheat oven to 500°; line baking sheet with parchment paper
Dry ingredients; whisk together:
5 cups White Lily® all-purpose flour, a good soft-wheat flour
1.5 tablespoons baking powder
1 tablespoon salt (I used kosher salt)
Cut in 10 tablespoons cold lard (you could substitute butter or experiment with combinations of lard, butter, or vegetable shortening). I used my hands to rub in the lard, but you could use a pastry cutter. Don’t overwork the dough or worry about some large pieces of fat. Stir in 2 cups cold, shaken buttermilk (mine was whole milk buttermilk, but you can use the low-fat version). When mostly combined, use your hands to round up the dough and knead lightly on a floured surface. This dough has a really nice soft texture that holds together well. Pat out to about 3/4″ thickness and cut biscuits with a 3 inch cutter. I re-worked the dough twice more to finally get 16 biscuits. The remaining small circle of dough can be twisted once into a cruller-like shape and baked with the rest, if you have room for it—my mother always referred to that one as the dog biscuit. This dough can easily be re-worked a few times without affecting the final result; it’s a very moist, soft dough that does not quickly toughen, like some biscuit doughs.
Place about 1 inch apart on parchment-lined baking sheet. Bake for about 10-12 minutes, until high and brown. Some people like to brush the tops with butter after baking, but I like the crisp tops, especially when you are going to smother them with gravy. I like the crisp tops with or without gravy.
1 lb ground breakfast sausage (you could make your own, but I like Jimmy Dean® sausage, regular or sage)
3 cups milk, scalded in the microwave (do not let it boil)
6 tablespoons butter
6 tablespoons flour
Lots of black pepper
Brown the sausage over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Commercial sausage is pretty lean and does not make enough fat to make your gravy—I didn’t see any fat in the bottom of my pan, so you really have to add the butter to make the white sauce. Add the butter to the pan and reduce the heat to medium. When the butter is melted, stir in the flour and pepper until all the flour is combined with no lumps. Stir and cook for about a minute to cook out the raw flour taste, then slowly stir in the heated milk. Continue stirring until thick. You can set it on simmer for a few minutes, stirring occasionally so it doesn’t stick.
Or mix it all up in a large Styrofoam cup.