I was checking my twitter while lying in bed on a Sunday, it was the first chilly one of the season. As much as I like summer I can’t say I am all that disappointed to start seeing the signs of fall creeping into the world, it IS my favorite time of year. Anyway, while I was catching up ‘biscuits & gravy’ popped up in my feed 3 or 4 times. That sounded DELICIOUS. And perfect for a chilly Sunday morning. Out of bed & off to the grocery store I went to get some sausage & buttermilk. Mmmmmmm…biscuits.
Biscuits are one of those things that always seemed so daunting to make. Probably because I have had some downright awful biscuits before and if you read a few recipes they range from super easy to kind of a pain in the ass. I, as a general rule, prefer super easy, especially on a Sunday morning before I’ve had a chance to make coffee. I also find it terribly amusing just how many variations there are of biscuits. Prepping this post I ready about 10 and no 2 were alike, all had different liquid/fat/flour ratios, some used self rising flour, some all purpose, some cake…it seems the culinary world at large just can’t make up its mind about what needs to go into a good biscuit.
I know, I know. You can go to the refrigerated isle of any grocery store and buy a busting tube of biscuits, put them on a pan and bake. But they aren’t good. They are ok, definitely better than no biscuits at all, but they lack that light & tender texture of a good homemade biscuit. Considering biscuits really aren’t terribly complicated to throw together I stopped buying the store bought ones a long time ago.
This recipe is easy, uses ingredients that are readily available, outside of the buttermilk but that is easy enough to fake, and is mixed by hand, as a biscuit should be. The not so secret secret to a light, tender & flaky biscuit is in the mixing, or lack there of. The ratio of ingredients does make a difference, but not as much as how you put them together. You don’t want to let hardly any gluten to develop, so you only want to mix it up until it barely sticks together. There will be dry spots, there will be wet spots, it will be kind of ugly. Thats how it’s supposed to look, you just mix until it comes together as a dough, that’s it.
I bake mine off in a 10″ cast iron skillet, gives them a gorgeous crust top to bottom. With homemade biscuits you want to bake them so they grow together, about 1/2″ apart; as they bake they help support each other as they cook for even rising and height. For the record this recipe is also really good as the topper for a pot pie kind of thing or instead of flattening and cutting the dough you can do it drop style like my mom used to when she made chicken & biscuits…great, now I want chicken & biscuits.
Buttermilk Skillet Biscuits makes 12 – 2″ biscuits
- 2 cups All Purpose Flour
- 4 tsp Baking Powder
- 3/4 tsp Salt
- 1 Tbsp Sugar
- 6 Tbsp Butter – COLD
- 1 1/4 cup Buttermilk **
** If you dont have buttermilk you can make it! Add 2 Tbsp of lemon juice, cider or white vinegar to enough milk to make up the 1 1/4 cup of milk needed and stir. The mixture will thicken up and, in essence, curdle making buttermilk. Or at least a close enough version for biscuits & other baked goods
Heat up the oven to 450 and butter a 10″ cast iron skillet. If you don’t have or are not using a cast iron skillet butter the pan you are going to use. Also works just fine on a tray, just put them in the same configuration as the pan so they touch.
Mix together the flour, baking powder, salt & sugar in a bowl with a whisk. Cut the butter up into little chunks and put in the flour mixture.
Use your fingers to work the butter into the flour. I do this by rubbing. Get the butter tossed in the flour, squish it up to break it up some then pick it up in small handfuls and rub it together. This breaks up the butter and incorporates it with the flour. You could use a food processor for this, but I have an aversion to getting it out and, more specifically, cleaning the bowl and blade for something easy – it seriously takes just as long to do all that as it does to mix it up by hand. You want to keep at it until the butter is totally incorporated and the mixture resembles coarse meal with no identifiable chunks of butter. Pro Tip – take off your rings if you wear any, I always forget.
Make a well in the center of the flour mix and add the buttermilk.
Use a wooden spoon or spatula to stir the wet into the dry. It will be clumpy, but only give it about 10-12 spins with the spoon, enough to get a dough to form, but it will be ugly with patches of wet and dry spots. (If you are doing drop biscuits or using it as a topper of some type you are done and can go about your biscuit making business at this point)
Dump the dough out onto a floured surface and pat into a 3/4″ thick square. You will want to flour your hands for this, it get sticky. You aren’t kneading the dough at all, just pressing it into a square so you can cut it. Use a 2″ biscuit cutter-circle cutter-juice glass-whatever round thing you have that will cut the dough to start cutting circles and placing them in the buttered pan. When you have cut all you can smoosh the dough back together and cut the rest – dont work the dough, just press it together to make a new square. Less is more when playing with biscuit dough.
Put the biscuits in the hot oven for 12-14 minutes, they are done when the tops look dry and are golden brown. Some folk brush them with melted butter – I would have, too, if I knew I wasn’t about to cover them in sausage gravy because it makes them look pretty – pretty is a non-issue when covered in gravy.
Don’t grab the pan, it will be HOT. Dive in as soon as they are cool enough to touch, they will break apart really easily. These keep for a few days wrapped up well and reheat really well wrapped in foil in a hot oven.
Sausage gravy is also pretty easy to toss together, a few ingredients on the stove for about 10 minutes and BOOM sausage gravy. It’s delicious over biscuits, it’s delicious by itself, it’s delicious on grits….it’s just plain delicious. It is loaded with sausage. How could it not be?
I use breakfast sausage to make this because it’s delicious. I prefer to buy the bulk 1 pound tubes of it, if you get/have the ones with the casing just take them out before browning. This gravy is THICK. If it gets too thick thin it down with more milk. If reheating adding a touch more milk is necessary – cold sausage gravy is the consistency of, well, dry wall mud.
Sausage Gravy makes about 5-6 cups
- 1# Breakfast Sausage
- 3 Tbsp Flour
- 2 cups Milk
- 1/2 cup Heavy Cream (optional, add some extra milk if you omit)
- Salt, Fresh Ground Black Pepper & Hot Sause as your heart desires
In a sauce pan brown the sausage in a tablespoon of olive oil. Use a wooden spoon to bust it up, I like mine chunkier so I am a mild smasher. If you like it more finely crumbled use a hand potato masher to break it up. Let the sausage get some color on it while it cooks, it’s just better that way.
When the sausage is cooked sprinkle with the flour and stir it in until all that delicious sausage fat is absorbed – you just made a roux! Add the milk, drop the heat some and stir with the spoon to work the roux into the milk. As it comes to a simmer it will start to thicken up. Give it a healthy dose of black pepper, season with some salt and let it cook at a gentle simmer until all the flour cooks out and it is thick. Add the crea and bring back to a simmer. Taste it and season to your tastebuds liking – I douse it with hot sauce at this point. Red Hot to be exact.
Pour that creamy sausage goodness on biscuits or whatever you want to slather in sausage goodness. Leftovers can be reheated on the stove or in the *gasp* microwave, just add a little bit of milk to thin it out. I like it on the biscuits with a couple of over medium eggs.