Today a FaceBook friend asked me to share a recipe for country gravy so she could make gravy from scratch to serve over biscuits. She said she was not too savvy with making a roux, but she knew that was where she needed to start and she was so right about that. Gravy by definition is a sauce. It can be a flour based gravy (which always starts with a roux), a cornstarch gravy which begins with flavorant like broth, meat drippings, etc., or an au Jus which is French for “with Juice” or “with its own juice” meaning the juices of the meat you prepared. Country gravy or Sawmill gravy as it is sometimes called is a flour based gravy or white sauce. A roux (pronounced roo) is another French term for blending flour with fat, traditionally butter, as a thickening agent for gravies and sauces.
A basic white sauce can go from gravy to Alfredo depending on how you flavor it. Butter, flour & milk are all you need to make a basic white sauce. To make that sauce into country gravy you will need salt & black pepper to start, for biscuits here in the South, we like to make it Sausage gravy. I like to use gluten free flour, but regular all-purpose flour is fine. I also use Almond Milk instead of dairy milk, but it is all the same. You can make this gravy with water, milk just makes it creamier. As you can see the ingredient list is very simple: Milk, flour, butter, and two kinds of sausage. And I used packaged grands for my biscuits, so while my gravy is gluten free, my biscuits most certainly are not.
To get this party started I divide the sausage in half. This recipe that feeds four heartily only calls for ½ a pound of mild pork sausage and ½ a pound of spicy pork sausage. I package the other two halves to go in the freezer for future use. If you prefer to go meatless you can use a plant based crumble to substitute for the browned sausage in this recipe. Into a skillet on medium-high heat the sausage goes, I use a spatula to mash them up and mix the two together as they brown up nicely. The idea is to make them into a sausage crumble. Once it is browned, strain the fat off (you can save this for another project in a container in the fridge). Set the sausage aside and start your roux.
Lower your heat a tad and put two tablespoons of unsalted butter and let it melt among all the lovely brown bits on the bottom of the pan from browning the sausage. By the way, you could use the sausage fat for this step, but you would just need to strain and measure it back in so that there is not too much. I just prefer the flavor of the butter and it is also less heavy than the pork fat. Quickly toss in three tablespoons of flour. And now the stirring madness begins.
Stir that flour into the butter, it will quickly form a paste that clumps up – if it is too dry, add a third tablespoon of butter as I did in the third picture.
You will still have brown bits stuck to the bottom of the pan, do not worry, they will de-glaze when the milk hits the pan. Keep that roux moving until it starts to brown slightly, then add your milk slowly. Ideally you want to be stirring and pouring at the same time, but you can do it with one hand if you are are quick and the other hand has camera in it. Stir and flatten any chunks of roux to get them to blend thoroughly with your milk. You may notice brown bits floating in your milk, this is the sausage goodness from the bottom of your pan I mentioned earlier.
Just keep stirring and let your sauce come to a boil which will allow it to thicken. You will be stirring for 6-7 minutes at least. Gravy is a stirring exercise. As it begins to thicken you can season it with salt and pepper, but I like to jazz it up. I used Seasoned Salt, Black Pepper, Dried Sage, and some Roasted Garlic Powder. Just stir all that jazz down into the gravy. Now you could stop here and serve this as a Sawmill gravy.
But that’s crazy talk, right!? Add your sausage crumbles back into the pan with your gravy.
More stirring. Just keep stirring, stirring, stirring… until you have the desired consistency.
Finally all that stirring pays off! Serve that comforting, hearty gravy over big, hot, fluffy biscuits with a side of sliced tomatoes and a few bits of herb from the garden, in this case Cilantro. You could also use flat leaf parsley or basil as the touch of green.
- 2-3 T Unsalted Butter
- 3 T AP Flour (I used an AP Gluten-free Flour)
- 3 C Milk (Dairy, Almond or Soy)
- Seasoned Salt, to taste
- Black Pepper, to taste
- ¼ tsp or so Dried Sage
- ½ tsp or so Roasted Garlic Powder
- ½ lb Mild Pork Sausage
- ½ lb Spicy Pork Sausage
- Brown sausage into a crumble on medium-high heat.
- Strain fat and remove sausage from pan and set aside
- Lower heat and melt butter in pan and stir in flour. Keep stirring as flour and butter form a paste and begin to brown (1½ – 2 minutes)
- Slowly pour in milk and stir together mixing roux chunks in to form a smooth sauce. Stirring several minutes.
- Season gravy with salt, pepper, sage and garlic and stir as sauce comes to a boil and begins to thicken.
- Add sausage crumble back into pan and stir to blend and complete the thickening process.
- Serve over hot biscuits, this recipe serves 4.