My recipe is based on Alton Brown’s Sawmill gravy recipe. I’ve experimented with it and my notes are at the bottom:
1 pound pork breakfast sausage
2 Tbsp fat from cooked sausage or melted butter (or margarine, if you must)
1/4 cup flour
2 cups milk
Salt and pepper to taste
1) Cook sausage (Prefferably in a cast iron skillet. Also: I like to keep this pretty chunky, so don’t chop it up too small as you stir and cook)
2) When done, remove the cooked sausage from pan and discard all but 2 tablespoons of the fat. (this yields the best tasting gravy, however, if you prefer to use butter or margarine, it makes a less heavy and greasy gravy, but also less flavorful)
3) Whisk flour into the liquid fat and cook over low heat for 5 minutes, this fat/flour mixture is called a roux. Cook till you smell a slightly nutty aroma.
4) Remove pan from heat and whisk in milk a little at a time. (Only add the next batch when the first is fully incorporated) It’s best to hold back a little of the milk (2-3 tbsp) at this point. It’s easier to thin the gravy later than to thicken it.
5) Put the skillet over medium-high heat and stir occasionally. Bring the gravy to a simmer. At this point it should have reached it’s maximum thickness. Add remaining milk if you want it a little thinner, or leave it alone, your choice. (Be sure to scrape up any brown bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan, there’s a lot of flavor in those.)
6) Add salt and pepper to taste. Add crumbled sausage and serve over biscuits.
Here are my experimentation notes:
So far, I have had the best results with 2% milk. Skim milk works ok, but you may want use a little less milk (or make a little more roux) in order to make skim milk gravy thick enough. There’s doesn’t seem to be a noticable difference in flavor.
I have also found that the sausage can take an annoyingly long time to cook, so I’ve been experimenting with different kinds, especially brown-and-serve sausage. Cooks Illustrated has recommended the pre-cooked “Farmland Original Pork Sausage Links”, however, I have been unable to find them out here in the west. I’ve tried Jimmy Dean’s brown and serve, and the sausage links completely suck. The patties are a tad better, but generally, don’t bother unless you are in a real hurry.
Cooks Illustrated did a taste test on pre-cooked vs. fresh sausage links. The Farmland pre-cooked was far-and-away the winner, but here are their other recommendations (with reservations):
Bob Evans original links (fresh)
Owen’s original premium pork sausage links (fresh)
Jimmy Dean original fresh pork sausage links (fresh)
Jones all natural pork little sausages (fresh, I think, but not sure)
Most everything else you’ll find in the pre-cooked section was not recommended.
I have used Jimmy Dean’s fresh sausage in a 1 lb package roll, and it has been good, but you have to cut it up, and it does take a while to cook. Most fresh sausages are just fine. Experiment to see which ones sold in stores near you work in the gravy, and let me know how it works!
Generally, I think the links and the patties both have good taste, but different textures, I like them both, but you should see for yourself.
Farmland also makes fresh sausage and pre-cooked patties. If anyone can find any of the pre-cooked farmland products, I’d love to hear what you think!
Finally: I’m going to be experimenting with Biscuit recipes. I’ll let you know how that works out.