I have no roots in the South. I mean, Grandma and Grandpa lived in South (well, Virginia), but they weren’t from the South. They met in New York. And my sister lives in North Carolina now, but she’s a Northerner too (so much that when she’s home for the holidays she brings bagels back down South with her. She also brings barbecue from Allen & Son up North with her from time to time, which is great!) So, I would love to say that this is an old family recipe from my Great Aunt Sally in Georgia, but it’s not. I don’t even have a Great Aunt Sally. I do love me some biscuits and sausage gravy though, and this is my take on it.
I’ve become a big fan of the fresh ginger and sage in Ruhlman’s breakfast sausage. I’ve made it for the past few years for Christmas morning, and it’s now a family favorite. So that recipe was a no-brainer for the Charcutepalooza May Challenge: grinding. I stay pretty close to the recipe in Charcuterie, but I add a bit more garlic, and this time I also added a small handful (1T or so) of fresh thyme. It’s also easy to scale down for batches smaller than 5 lbs. The boneless pork butt I got was right aroung 4 lbs, so we’ll have plenty on hand for the next month.
For the biscuits, I turned to a terrific book that came out last year called Pig: King of the Southern Table by James Villas. There’s a lot of history and background in here, along with the recipes that cover a huge range of southern dishes, most of which have pork in them. A Southern Pig Primer; A Southern Pig Glossary; and The Gospel of Southern Barbecue are all important parts of the book’s Introduction. Better yet, Villas includes recipes for making sausages, not just recipes for what to do with them. The book is also loaded with side dishes and accoutrements, and I figured I’d follow his guidelines for Breakfast Sausage Biscuits with Cream Gravy. I made some slight changes to his recipe, and I used half butter and half duck fat in place of the vegetable shortening, and I used buttermilk in place of the milk. They’re basic flour and baking powder biscuits, but they were spot on, and my guess is they’re pretty authentic (except for the use of duck fat)!
A pan gravy with the drippings (and an extra patty chopped up to fortify the gravy) topped off the biscuits and sausage. I like a bit of cayenne pepper or Tabasco along with my sausage gravy, and I opted for the hot sauce here, as well as a sprinkling of chives. It made for a delicious Southern breakfast for this Yankee on a rainy New England day.
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I realize that in my haste to make the Charcutepalooza deadline, I spent less time talking about the recipes in the Pig: King of the Southern Table than I would have liked. So let me make ammends: I’m looking forward to spending some real quality time with this book. Entries like pork sparerib and oxtail stew, deep-fried marinated pork nuggets, pig knuckle salad with mustard vinaigrette, Appalachian braised ham hocks and cabbage, a legit Georgia Coca-cola-glazed baked ham and twelve (twelve!) different varieties of rib recipes will keep me busy for a while. Plus, there’s a whole chapter devoted to “Variety and Specialty Meats.” So we’ll have something to do with the nasty bits when we go whole hog (or take the next trip back down to Arthur Avenue).