My mom’s Italian, and years back I simply took on her heritage even though I’m only half. My dad is from Kentucky and all I know about his background is he’s English. Somewhere along the lines I heard I might be a DAR – Daughter of the American Revolution – but I’ve never been able to confirm that. My mom and dad married young and for a time lived with both sets of parents until they could afford their own house. Mom only knew how to cook Italian foods and I suppose this was ok with my dad – I never heard him complain – but at some point she learned how to make biscuits and gravy from scratch. It was a Sunday morning ritual for us and even when my siblings and I moved out, we always managed to find our way to mom and dad’s most Sunday mornings.
This ‘recipe’ is subject to much interpretation and measurements. I don’t make it too often as it’s loaded with fat but boy, is it good! Eggs are not my best thing though. When I was very little I was so skinny the doctors told mom to force feed me eggs and hot dogs. To this day, I’m not a fan of either one although I can eat an egg if it’s covered with Tabasco and choke down a hot dog if it has ketchup, mustard, relish and sauerkraut on it. Since I don’t care for eggs too much I never learned how to cook them properly. Paul, who sort of likes eggs, showed me the trick with the steam so I could make breakfast without killing the eggs all the time.
Southern Sausage Gravy and Biscuits with Steamed Eggs
1 lb breakfast sausage, sliced or formed into 8 patties – reserve 2 of the patties
(or, alternately, you can use a package of brown and serve links, reserving at least two)
(or, as my mom would do sometimes, use a lb of bacon. Don’t reserve any, just cook it all.)
2 tablespoons all purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
3 cups milk
6 biscuits from a can or made from scratch, baked
2 tsp butter
In a large non-stick skillet over medium heat brown 6 sausage patties on both sides until fully cooked. Remove from the pan. Add the reserved sausage meat and break it apart into crumbles. Sprinkle the red pepper flakes over the meat and season with salt and pepper. When the sausage is cooked fully, sprinkle with two tablespoons of flour, stirring well to incorporate all the flour into the sausage and grease. Stir until the flour mixture is smooth and browned. Depending on the amount of grease in the pan, the flour may simply absorb and cling to the sausage crumbles or it may make a slurry – either way is ok, just make sure it’s not ‘greasy’. Add 1/4 cup of the milk and allow it to foam, stirring into the sausage mixture. It should appear thick and smooth. Continue adding the milk, 1/4 to 1/2 cups at a time, stirring to incorporate. Add the remainder of the milk and allow to thicken. Turn up the heat if it appears to be too thin; add more milk if it’s too thick. Meanwhile, heat a non stick skillet over medium heat and add the butter. When butter has melted, carefully crack the eggs into the pan. Season with salt and pepper. When the egg whites have almost set, add a teaspoon of water to the pan and cover for a minute. The steam will cook the yolks perfectly.
Serve the gravy over the hot biscuits alongside the sausage patties and the steamed eggs.