High-Rise Biscuits with Sausage Gravy
A southern breakfast is often built on the foundation of biscuits, grits and sausage gravy. It’s a challenge to sell stalwarts like these in the South, as so many diners will make comparisons to grandma’s homemade recipe. But at Hominy Grill, a beloved Charleston restaurant that’s housed in a former barbershop, they serve traditional biscuits with sausage gravy that taste just like the ones grandma used to make.
For the gravy:
- 1/4 lb. (125 g) bulk pork breakfast sausage
- 2 Tbs. unsalted butter, melted, or as needed
- 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) finely chopped yellow onion
- 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) finely chopped green bell pepper
- 1/4 cup (1 1/2 oz./45 g) all-purpose flour
- 2 1/4 cups (18 fl. oz./560 ml) chicken broth, warmed
- 2/3 cup (5 fl. oz./160 ml) heavy cream
- Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
- Hot pepper sauce, to taste
For the biscuits:
- 2 cups (10 oz./315 g) southern-style soft wheat flour (such as White Lily), or 1 cup (5 oz./155 g) each all-purpose and cake flour
- 1 Tbs. baking powder
- 1 tsp. sugar
- 1/2 tsp. fine sea salt
- 2 Tbs. cold unsalted butter, cut into cubes
- 2 Tbs. vegetable shortening, cut into cubes and chilled
- 1 Tbs. lard, cut into cubes and chilled
- 3/4 cup (6 fl. oz./180 ml) buttermilk
To make the gravy, in a fry pan over medium heat, cook the sausage, stirring and breaking it up with a wooden spoon, until it is browned, about 6 minutes. With a slotted spoon, transfer the sausage to a bowl. Measure the fat in the pan and add enough melted butter to make 3 Tbs. Add the onion and bell pepper and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, about 3 minutes. Return the sausage to the pan. Sprinkle with the flour and stir well. Reduce the heat to low and let simmer, stirring frequently, without browning, 1 to 2 minutes. Gradually whisk in the warmed chicken broth and bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until lightly thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in the cream. Return to a boil over high heat, reduce the heat to medium-low and simmer, stirring frequently, until the gravy is reduced to about 3 cups (24 fl. oz./750 ml), about 15 minutes. Season to taste with salt, pepper and hot pepper sauce. Cover and keep the gravy warm over very low heat.
Meanwhile, make the biscuits. Preheat an oven to 425°F (220°C). Have ready a rimmed baking sheet. In a bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, sugar and salt. Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, cut the butter, shortening, and lard into the flour mixture just until the mixture forms coarse crumbs about the size of peas. Pour in the buttermilk and stir with a fork or rubber spatula just until combined.
Turn out the dough onto a floured surface. Knead just until the dough comes together, about 10 strokes. Using floured hands, pat into a circle about 1 inch (2.5 cm) thick. Using a 2-inch (5-cm) biscuit cutter dipped in flour, cut out as many rounds of the dough as possible. Gather up the scraps, knead briefly and continue patting and cutting out to make 6 to 8 biscuits. Place on the rimmed baking sheet without touching. Bake until golden brown, 15 to 17 minutes. Let cool on the baking sheet for 3 minutes. Serve the biscuits on individual plates, topped with the warm gravy. Serves 4 to 6.
Adapted from Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts, by Rick Rodgers (Weldon Owen, 2010)