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Biscuits and Sausage Gravy

Get Your Biscuits in the Oven,
and Your Buns in the Bed

(Biscuits and Sausage Gravy)
 by Ron & Sandra Williams
January 2001

When the South rises again, it will be with the help of White Lily Flour. A "White Powdery Substance" that's addictive, not always easy to score, and potentially lethal in mass quantities. White Lily Flour is the magic potion that is essential to the most intimate and personal of Southern recipes: Homemade biscuits.

When Kinky Friedman recorded "Get Your Biscuits in the Oven and Your Buns in the Bed," he (at least) had the sequence right for a sensual Southern morning. The sentiment of the song probably blew any chances for the "Bunsin the Bed" activities. But, a good biscuit satisfies most desires, anyway.

You know you've left the South when "Biscuits and Gravy" doesn't appear on the menu. Grits ain't groceries, and toast ain't breakfast! Those things that come in a can in the dairy section of your grocery that are labeled "biscuits" - Pillsbury, Merita, etc - are NOT real biscuits! Men can make biscuits, but like so many other of life's best experiences, a woman's touch seems to make it so much better. I'll usually make the gravy while the wife handles the biscuit makin.'

White Lily Flour is made from SOFT winter wheat. Soft, like in SOFT Southern breezes off a Carolina coast. Pillsbury Flour (and most others) is made from HARD wheat. Hard, like the winters in Minnesota. You used to be able to buy White Lily only if you lived around Knoxville, TN, Today, White Lily has the mandatory web site (www.whitelily.com) and is available to even Yankees with a biscuit jones.

For making great biscuits, you need the right ingredients and the right technique. Handled right, the biscuit recipe on the side of the White Lily Self - Rising Flour package makes a fine biscuit. With a little more work, you can achieve biscuit heaven. I'll let Sandra write about how to do it:

Sandra's Southern Buttermilk Biscuits

2 c. White Lily all - purpose flour
Heaping tsp. salt
3 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1 tsp. baking soda
5 T chilled shortening or lard (Best when you use half of each)
7/8 c. buttermilk

Preheat oven to 500 degees

Sift the dry ingredients together in a large bowl. Get out a flat ungreased "cookie sheet," a 2 inch biscuit cutter, and have your buttermilk measured and ready to go. This keeps you from touching everything with floured hands and making a mess. Lightly flour a flat surface for cutting the biscuits. Keep a small bowl of flour nearby to dip the biscuit cutter in so it doesn't stick to the dough. Add the shortening or lard using your fingers or a pastry blender until it resembles coarse cornmeal. Add the buttermilk and stir with a wooden spoon. Turn the dough out on a floured surface. Gently turn the dough over and over until it begins to look smooth. If the dough gets too much flour mixed in, the biscuits will be so hard you might as well use them as a husband tamer. The dough needs to be fairly wet, but not so wet that it sticks to the cutter, the surface, or your hands. Cut the biscuits, without twisting the cutter, and place them in a 500 degree oven for 8 minutes.

While you can always put a sausage patty, a slice of country ham, or damn near anything else between a biscuit and have delectable and transportable meal, the epitome of biscuit eating comes with the marriage between a biscuit and sausage gravy. Gravy making is more of a process rather than a recipe (just as the making of the biscuits.) You feel your way through the process, letting the resistance of the gravy tell you the next action; it's a live gig, not a recording session. You don't read the chart; you play from the heart. And while Sandra makes the biscuits, I'm making the gravy:

Ron's Sausage Gravy

In the black cast iron skillet where your fried you sausage patties, put either a couple of broken up patties or a couple of ounces of reserved sausage and fry it while breaking the sausage up into crumbles. Remove the sausage to a plate lined with paper towels. For each cup of gravy, you're going to need between two and three tablespoons of the grease from the sausage. Let's go for two cups of gravy:Pour off all but 5 - 6 TBLS of sausage grease. lace the skillet back on medium heat till the grease is hot, and stir in with a whisk 5 - 6 TBLS of White Lily Flour. Keep stirring until the flour loses that starchy taste and gets a little color - about 2 minutes. Don't let it burn!! Have 3 cups of WHOLE milk at hand. While whisking, stir in the milk a little at a time. Keep the gravy pretty thin right now - it'll thicken as it cooks. Over the next 3 to 5 minutes, keep whisking and adding milk as the gravy thickens. You want the gravy to coat a spoon and drip off slowly, but not be a sludge, nor be watery. Throw in the crumbled sausage, salt, black pepper, and cayenne pepper to taste. Remove from the heat and pour over split or crumbled biscuits. Then get her buns in the bed.

Ron Williams is not only a chef, but also a partner in ASP Records!
(Allied Sound Productions)

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