Fluffy biscuits and tasty sausage gravy is our kind of brunch! Pair it with a Spicy Bloody Mary or mimosa and we are happy as can be!
All across the Southern United States you can find a simple, but magical food called a biscuit. Sure, you can find them almost everywhere, which is why us Southern folk like to call ours “southern biscuits,” so as to not leave any doubt that these aren’t any Yankee versions or British cookie.
All kidding aside, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard some variation of the phrase “My mom’s biscuits are the only ones better than these.” The immense pride in one’s homemade biscuits is not made up in the South!
The irony, however, is that the ingredient list is just a touch longer than that of ice cubes or a martini. The magic is in choosing the right proportions, creativity in choosing the ingredients and, most importantly, how the dough is actually handled.
The Key to Southern Style Biscuits
A true biscuit is really flour, fat and baking powder, but the addition of a liquid is almost universal. The original Southern biscuits were flour and water only, but we won’t dwell on that as nobody makes these and brags about it anymore.
So, with just four ingredients, how can something be so revered, discussed, argued about and loved across a giant section of the United States? Let’s talk about it.
The flour may seem simple, but the minute you just assume any old all purpose flour will do you’ll get some pushback from someone’s grandmother in Tennessee!
Yes, you can make great biscuits with nearly any wheat flour (a gluten free biscuit is also known as a doorstop), but the softer the flour (winter wheat or low gluten flour) the lighter and fluffier the end result will be – assuming you do it correctly…we will get to that.
We experimented and found that a combo of all purpose flour and cake flour results in the perfect texture for our biscuits.
Fat is the next ingredient. You can literally use any fat. Lard, butter and shortening are the three most common found in proper Southern biscuits.
One of my (Mark’s) oldest friend’s mother in Texas kept bacon drippings in a cast iron skillet on the back of the stove always just to make biscuits. If it ever went dry, she made bacon just so there would be fat just in case it “looks like biscuits need making.”
Our preference – a butter and shortening mix. The butter is for the flavor and the shortening is for the texture. But again, this is not only a personal thing, but also a fun part of the recipe with which to experiment.
Baking powder – which wasn’t even invented until the 1840s – is not a tough discussion. But people who don’t bake often should definitely check their can of baking powder to make sure the expiration date wasn’t 8 years ago! It keeps a long time, but if you’re not a baker, check to make sure.
The liquid is another important consideration. Whole milk, cream, half and half, buttermilk, sour cream, crème fraîche and even yogurt can be used. Some folks will swear by one thing or another, and I guess that’s part of the biscuit lore.
One thing I know for sure…whole milk and/or buttermilk work perfectly. If using anything else, there will be a bit of an adjustment as the fat content varies quite a bit among these other liquids. Will they make great biscuits? Yup. So, experiment away!
The last consideration is the “assuming you do it correctly” part of this endeavor. You CANNOT BEAT THE HELL OUT OF BISCUIT DOUGH!
Unless you want to skip your biscuit across the pond down the street, you need to be gentle. This dough should be brought together, gently folded and cut. The scraps can be reformed one time and the rest of the dough is trash.
It makes sense, right? You want low gluten flour in the first place and working dough will simply activate the gluten. Just be gentle and you won’t have problems.
The folding of the dough in our recipe is helpful in mixing, but it also creates flaky layers and serves to make the final product easy to split in half if you wish.
The size and texture of your biscuit is going to come down to personal preference, so don’t sweat that.
Some people love a giant fluffy biscuit the size of their face and others like nice petite biscuits and eat three. The ones in between are most common and also are great for a biscuit sandwich with bacon, egg and cheese. Or country ham. Or sausage.
Oh well, this is also a deep rabbit hole, so we can leave the biscuit’s versatility alone for now.
What to put on your biscuits?
So, what to put on your biscuit is a whole ‘nother argument, my friends!
For me, a great biscuit should taste great alone. That’s not how I generally eat them, but when I try a biscuit, my first bite is plain. This will tell you everything you need to know. Is it soft, chewy, crumbly, flaky, moist, dry, tasty, etc.? It’s damn near wine tasting to biscuit aficionados.
Ask most people how to describe a perfect biscuit in the South and I can almost guarantee you that the first word will NOT be how it tastes. That doesn’t mean taste doesn’t matter – absolutely it does and is, of course, the most important thing in any food. But you’ll hear words like flaky, buttery, moist, light, etc.
Hopefully, if you actually made them, you don’t hear things like hmm, have you made these before? Did your momma ever make biscuits? Or, even worse, “where are you from?” Enough of that digression.
I can answer the question of what to put on your biscuit in one word….
The gravy is also pretty simple also and needs much less explanation as it is straightforward and wonderful. The ratios are easy to remember, and a little adjustment can be made quite simply.
The addition of sausage and poblanos is a no-brainer to us and just tastes elevated and amazing. The addition of black pepper is a must as it combines perfectly with cream gravy.
Do I like other things on biscuits? Hell, yes, I do! But biscuits and gravy (again, OUR gravy is the shizzle) are a wonderful Southern delight for breakfast and it’s pretty amazing when done right. But the options are endless, and I hope you try them all.
Have I convinced you that our roasted poblano sausage gravy is so amazing and that you have to try it yet?
Oh, and don’t forget to eat a nice big savory biscuits and gravy breakfast, with some bacon and sausage on the side, maybe eggs, some good coffee, a mimosa or bloody mary and take that last biscuit before anyone else does and smother it in honey, molasses or sorghum for breakfast dessert! Enjoy y’all!
If you give this recipe a try, leave us a comment below or tag us on Instagram @cooking_with_wine.