Okay, so I’m not single, but since Philip is not here this morning I’m cooking like I am. During the week, Philip eats a bowl of cereal EVERY DAY and I eat whatever looks/sounds good for breakfast, usually yogurt or a smoothie (I’ll post some smoothie recipes on here one of these days!). Saturdays, however, are our day to cook breakfast together, and we do so every Saturday without fail (unless, again, he isn’t here to cook said breakfast with me….). Still, Saturday morning just isn’t Saturday morning without a terribly fattening carb, some sort of pork/fat combo, and eggs. Our rotation includes waffles, pancakes, French Toast, and my personal favorite, biscuits and gravy.
I am not one for stereotypes of people from the south, since I pretty much don’t fit any of those stereotypes. One of the stereotypes that drives me particularly insane is the one that people from the south fry everything, pour bacon grease on everything, and generally eat a very unhealthy diet. I feel quite certain that most of us are not deep frying everything that passes our lips, and I get really irritated every time I hear that stereotype, which is often. That said, one exception for me is my biscuits and gravy breakfast. Of course, it isn’t deep fried, but it certainly isn’t health food. I’m okay with that. Something about healthy biscuits and gravy doesn’t sit well with me…..
Please note that this is a recipe for one person, but I usually double it to serve two. You can multiply the proportions of the ingredients to serve as many people as you need! I got the original recipe, which I’ve modified somewhat, from a book called Small Batch Baking.
I put my mini bar pan in the oven and preheated it to 450 degrees. If you don’t have a bar pan, just use a regular baking pan! Preheating the pan helps with the overall browning of the biscuits.
The next thing I did was actually make my coffee, but I don’t think that step is essential to this post. So….moving on, I measured 1/4 cup of milk and added a teaspoon of vinegar to it. Usually I use buttermilk, but I was out today. Adding vinegar to regular milk curdles it to make it more like buttermilk. You could also use heavy cream, half-and-half, or regular milk, but buttermilk is traditional (yes, I buy white vinegar in bulk. I use it for cooking and cleaning ).
Next, I measured 1/4 of a cup of all-purpose flour into a bowl. This is White Lily flour. It’s made from soft white winter wheat and it is absolutely the best flour for biscuit-making ever. If you live in the north, you probably can’t buy White Lily at your grocery store. I’m sorry. Since I’m so healthy, I like to use half AP flour and half white whole wheat, so I measure in 1/4 cup www flour too (remember that in my bread post I explained that www flour is made from soft white winter wheat, too). Then, I added 1/2 teaspoon of baking powder, 1/4 teaspoon of salt, and 1/8 teaspoon of baking soda, and stirred them together (I use a fork for my mixing. I don’t know why. I just do.). Of course, feel free to use all regular flour, or use self-rising flour and omit the baking powder, salt, and baking soda.
Next, cut 1 1/2 tablespoons of cold butter into small cubes. I use light butter here. I keep light butter and regular, unsalted butter in my fridge and use them for different purposes. In lots of baking applications, light butter just doesn’t work, but it’s fine in biscuits so I go ahead and use it. Toss it into the flour mixture and use your fingertips to really work it in. If you have a pastry blender and want to use it, go ahead. I don’t have a pastry blender because I like to use my fingers for this. Really feeling the mixture helps me to know when I’ve done enough mixing. This step is called “cutting in” the butter, and when you are done the mixture will resemble wet sand.
Now, put in about 3 tablespoons of whatever liquid you’re using and stir it. Did you know that 1/4 cup=4 tablespoons? You may or may not need more than 3 tablespoons. Dough will behave differently on different days. Today I didn’t need the last tablespoon. You want the dough to come together and not to leave dry bits in the bowl, but you don’t want it to be wet. Turn it onto a floured surface. I use a glass cutting board, which is used solely for working dough, because you should never, I repeat NEVER use a knife on any surface other than wood or plastic! That’s a sure way to ruin a knife. Sprinkle a little flour on top and very lightly press and knead the dough into a circle or rectangle. Don’t overwork it or it will be tough. The thickness depends on how thick you like your biscuits; they’ll rise a little but not too much, so unless you like biscuit-flavored cookies, don’t go too thin.
My method for cutting and shaping biscuits is a bit unorthodox, but it prevents wasting dough. I cut the dough into however many equally-sized pieces I want then press them into my biscuit cutter to shape them. Today I am making two very large biscuits. Usually I double the recipe and make 6 slightly smaller biscuits. Place them on the hot stone (or a baking pan) and bake for 10-13 minutes.
Now for the bacon….I know this probably makes me not a good southern girl, but I don’t fry my bacon on the stovetop. I hate the mess from the splattering grease and I really hate getting burned by popping bacon, so I have this handy little bacon tray for my microwave. I stick that in the microwave, then today I melted the one little pat of butter I had left in my butter dish in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Normally I just spray a tiny bit of olive oil in the pan but I figured I might as well use the butter up. Once the butter is melted, I crack in the egg, salt it a little, put on the lid, and reduce the heat to low(ish). By this time there are about 5 minutes left till the biscuits are done, just enough time for an over-medium egg. By the way, these are Tennessee Valley eggs, bought at Greenlife. I’ll talk about my affinity for local, organic, and humanely-raised foods some other time, though….
Okay, finally….the gravy. My bacon cooked very quickly, so I’m using the bacon grease from the microwave tray. The traditional way to do this is to cook the bacon on the stovetop and then just make the gravy in the pan after removing the bacon. Here’s a dirty little secret: I have a jar of bacon grease in my fridge. If my bacon had not cooked in time or I hadn’t had enough bacon grease, I would have just used a spoonful from my jar and let it melt down. Let it get hot in the pan over medium heat, then add in a spoonful of flour, whisking till smooth. It’s a roux! I let it cook for about a minute until it is slightly brown, to get rid of the floury taste and give it a little more flavor. Now, pour in just a little milk, whisk, and keep pouring and whisking until you have a smooth gravy that’s the thickness you prefer. Salt and pepper and you’re ready to go!
Plate everything up and put gravy on your biscuits! Some people crumble their biscuits, some people half them, and some people just put gravy on top of the whole biscuit. I’m a “halver.” A little coffee on the side, and it’s a perfect southern breakfast!