Country Weekend

This past weekend, my sister came down for CMA fest.   We missed my cousins who weren’t able to come, but there’s always next year!  Eugene and I pinky-promised that we would make attending CMA fest a tradition. Here we are in … Continue reading

Sausage Gravy

One of my favorite breakfast items is biscuits and sausage gravy.  And sausage, of course.   My granny makes a mean sausage gravy and I look forward to it when I visit.  Although I tried to make this breakfast for myself once (unsuccessfully because I couldn’t find the right sausage in the Northeast), I think I am going to limit myself to eating this only when I visit my grandparents for the sake of my hips and arteries.

It’s very important that you make this an irregular part of your life.  Yes, that’s right.  IR-regular.   I say this out of concern for your health.  But, nonetheless, it should be a part of your life even if it’s once every month/week/day or two.

It is CRITICAL that you begin with good ol’ country sausage.  By this I mean loosely packed and with a good amount of fat.  I would recommend Tennessee Pride, Ole South or Old Folks brands.   I would not recommend Jimmy Dean because it is too dense and lean and thus will not render enough fat for the gravy.

So, once you have proper country sausage (hot or mild, but hot if you are really serious about this), cut it into ½” patties and set ‘er in the skillet.  If you are intending to have 8 sausage patties to serve, cook 9.  I will explain this later.

My cousin Lauren was frying up the sausage this particular morning.

Cook them over medium-high heat until the meat is cooked through and the patties are nice and browned.

Meanwhile, have some homemade biscuits baking in the oven.

I was not present for the making of these biscuits, but I understand that there was lard involved.  That’s all I care to comment on the matter.

When the sausage is done, place the patties on a plate lined with several paper towels to absorb the excess grease.

If there is too much grease left in the skillet, drain it off.  I can’t give you an exact amount because I don’t know how much sausage you are cooking, but I would say for 8 sausage patties, you don’t want more than ¼ cup of grease to make your gravy.

Now, this is a VERY IMPORTANT step.  Break up the extra sausage patty into small crumbled pieces to add texture to the gravy.  You did make an extra didn’t you?

Next, with the desired amount of grease and the extra crumbled patty in your skillet, grab some milk and some flour (pronounced “flair” if you have a Southern accent).

Sprinkle in approximately the same amount of flour as there is grease in your pan and stir.  Let’s say ¼ cup since we are working with a ¼ cup of grease.

You may want to use a whisk so it doesn’t “lump up on you,” as my granny says.

Let this cook for a few minutes until the mixture is a nice golden brown.

Then add the milk.

How much?

Until it looks right.

That’s what my mammie (and it seems all Southern cooks) say because they don’t really go by measurements, they go by look and feel.

If you haven’t achieved that level of culinary expertise to know when it “looks right,” add about ½ cup of milk or enough until the mixture is fairly loose, but still has some body to it.  I’m not even sure what that description really means and I’m sure you don’t either, so here is a photo:

Then let it cook for about 5 minutes or until it has thickened, all the while stirring and scraping the skillet so it doesn’t burn.  You will know it has reached this stage when you can see the bottom of the skillet in the wake of your spoon/spatula.

The gravy should have a nice brown color to it.

Season it with a little salt as needed.  And pepper if for some strange reason you did not go for hot sausage.

Stunning.  Look at all of those brown bits. MMMMMMMMM.

Now the best part!

Fix yourself a sausage n’ biscuit (or 2) and a big ol’ glass of cold me-yulk:

Oh heavens.

My cousin Kristen had clearly lost her marbles and opted for blackberry jam with her sausage n’ biscuit instead of sausage gravy.

(why????????)

I’m all for sweet and savory but I just don’t know if I can get on board with this one.

Sausage and sausage gravy had such a good thing going…

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Sugarlump

Southern Staples

Lordy, what have I done?

This is my cart at Walmart.  I don’t know how this happened.  And, yes, I am feeding a family of one.

Want to guess how much this cost?

Actually, please don’t.  It’s still a touchy subject for me and my credit card.

It took 8 trips to unload all of this from my car to my apartment.

But, a girl’s gotta have her staples.   During my first grocery shopping trip, I failed to purchase many basics such as tin-foil, eggs, mustard, flour, sugar, etc. so I had a lot to buy.

Somewhere in that cart are two glorious items that I could not find in the Northeast no matter how hard I tried.  They are critical components of Southern meals so I am just thrilled to pieces to have had the opportunity to purchase them (and soon to eat them).

Might I first mention that I could not get over the variety of cornmeal available here.  In Boston, if you didn’t know exactly where to look for the cornmeal in the grocery store, you would never find it. And when you find it, you will realize that it is not the one you want.  Here, it’s impossible to miss because there are dozens of choices.  But, I had one in particular I was looking for as it is the kind that both of my grandmothers use:

Item #1: Martha White Cornmeal

This is self-rising cornmeal and it’s white and fine (not yellow and coarse).  And, in my opinion, it should NEVER be prepared with sugar.  Cornbread shall not be sweet.  I’m pretty sure that’s in the Bible. Corn muffins, maybe, but cornbread, absolutely not.  How would you like a cupcake to sop up all that good pinto bean soup?  I don’t think so.

Cornbread should be salty, never sweet.  Amen.

My kitchen lacks a cast iron skillet, which is essential for making cornbread so I guess I’ll have to add that to the list of things I still need to get (much to my bank account’s dismay).

Item #2:  Hot breakfast sausage

Yes!  I can’t tell you how many places in Boston I looked for this stuff.  Those Northerners just don’t know what’s good.  But I do.  It’s hot pork sausage loosely packed so that it crumbles up and leaves behind enough drippings for a real nice gravy. Mmmmmmhmmmm.

This item does not require a cast iron skillet, although that would be a mighty good way to cook up some sausage patties and season the skillet real good for when I make cornbread.

I stopped short of buying myself some lard/shortening for a real initiation into Southern cooking, but I’m sure that will make it into my kitchen at some point in the near future.  I can’t help it. I’m Southern now.

I would like to end with a realization that has changed my life immeasurably.  Down here, the speed limit is 70 miles per hour on the highway (15 miles per hour faster than I’m used to) and I now live in the central time zone.

Translation:  I’m driving faster on slow time.

I feel like I’m getting more out of my day already.

Winning!

Y’all come back now, ya hear?

Emily