Basic Biscuits and Gravy

I've never really been a fan of biscuits and gravy - a combination of a texture thing and my dislike of sausage.  When I discovered the men in my family LOVE biscuits and gravy, I set out to find a recipe that I liked too.  The biscuit part was easy because I have a great recipe already.  I found a gravy recipe that looked easy and after a few trials, I have tweaked it to where I love it almost as much as the boys do!

Basic Biscuits
Preheat oven to 425.

In a bowl add:
-2 cups flour
-3 teaspoons baking powder
-1/2 teaspoon salt

The original recipe says (that my mom always used when I was young) calls for sifting the dry ingredients.  After seeing a recommendation in a cookie recipe, I have started using a whisk to mix the dry ingredients rather than sifting them. 

Using a pastry cutter (or a fork in a pinch), cut in 1/4 cup shortening to dry ingredients.  Make sure the shortening is thoroughly incorporated into the dry ingredients.  You shouldn't see any big clumps of shortening. 

TIP: to make measuring easier, fill a 2 cup liquid measuring cup with  water and spoon in shortening.  Once the water level rises to 2 1/4 cups, carefully pour out the water and dump the shortening into the dry ingredients.

All at once, add 3/4 cup milk.  I stir with a wooden spoon and turn the dough out onto a floured pastry sheet before all of the flour mixture is fully incorporated.  Dust your hands with a little flour and gently kneed the dough 20 to 25 times (this will get the rest of the flour mixture combined).  Roll or pat dough to desired thickness (I usually aim for about 1/2 inch or a little thicker).  Use a biscuit cutter or fun cookie cutter (or a drinking glass in a pinch) and place biscuits on ungreased baking sheet.  Bake for 10 to 12 minutes (times vary depending on ovens and altitude...they are done when the bottoms are a light golden color).  Serve! 

Recipe makes 10 to 20 biscuits depending on how thin you roll your dough and how big your cutter is.  I like leftovers so when it's just the four of us I usually make a double batch.  A triple batch is enough when it's the 6 of us.  When it's the 9 of us, I make biscuits till I'm blue in the face ;-)

What's better than biscuits?  Star-shaped biscuits!

Brown one pound of your favorite sausage.  I don't like most sausages because they are too spicy for me (yes I'm a wimp!), but I discovered that the maple flavored sausage is very mild and the maple flavor adds a wonderful element to the gravy. 

Once the sausage is completely browned (no more pink), stir in 1/3 cup flour.  Stir until all of the flour is completely absorbed by the sausage grease (you're making a roux, which will be the thickening agent for your gravy).  I let the sausage/flour mixture cook for a minute or two after the grease is absorbed so that it browns the flour just a little (a little cooking tip I learned back in high school from a wonderful chef).  Slowly stir in 3 to 4 cups of milk using a whisk.  I usually add about 1/4 to 1/3 cup at a time and thoroughly whisk it in so that it doesn't clump.  The sausage will get a little caught in the whisk, but don't worry, it will come back out!  The amount of milk you use depends on how far you want to stretch the gravy.  More milk means more gravy but less meat in each serving. 

After all of the milk is mixed in, add 1/2 to 1 teaspoon of seasoning salt (to taste) and 1/2 to 2 teaspoons of white or black pepper.  I am not a fan of pepper so I use a small amount of white pepper, which is milder than black pepper.  But if you love pepper, add until the gravy is delicious to you!

Serve and enjoy!!

This recipe serves 4.  I double it for 6. 

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