Sometimes you wake up to the smell of piñon wood coming from the neighbor’s fireplace, along with the intoxicating scent of fire-roasted chiles wafting through the air from some unknown place, and you know it’s time. This isn’t an everyday breakfast, but it’s certainly a celebration.
I like to make this when the weather changes and cool mornings start rolling in like the tide. Or when we are going out for a long day outside and might not be back until dinner. Or when we have a big snow. Really, you can eat this any time of the day. And if you happen to be camping and bring some along with you? In the morning, with a fire crackling and fresh coffee, I can almost guarantee you will wonder if you’ve ever tasted anything better: The hearty breakfast of all breakfasts — biscuits and gravy.
There are many ways to make this your own. You could make the gravy with almond milk. You could leave out the pork sausage. You could skip the biscuits altogether and make roasted sweet potatoes instead. You could add any variation of herbs or greens to the gravy at the end of cooking. Sometimes I skip the eggs and top with grilled peppers and onions instead.
I think about biscuits and gravy the same way I think about pie: It’s a special thing. We don’t make this all the time, so when I make it, I use all the ingredients that will make it taste its best and don’t feel bad about it. If you’re entertaining, there could not be an easier meal to prepare. The gravy can be made in advance and even frozen. The biscuit dough can be made the day before. All you have to do in the morning is bake the biscuits, heat up the gravy and scramble eggs. Voila!
These biscuits are drop biscuits, meaning the dough has a good amount of moisture and they are spooned onto a sheet tray instead of rolling and cutting the dough. Not only is this fast and easy, it also produces a light and airy biscuit that soaks up gravy in the most delightful (and delicious) way.
Biscuits and Gravy
Makes: 6 servings; total time: 1 hour
For the biscuits:
1½ cups all-purpose flour
1 cup freshly grated sharp cheddar cheese
2 teaspoons herbes de Provence (optional)
1½ teaspoons baking powder
4 tablespoons cold salted butter, cut into small cubes
1¼ cups cold half-and-half
For the gravy:
1 pound ground pork breakfast sausage
1 tablespoon butter
2 shallots or 1 medium onion, diced
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 sprig of fresh sage, leaves thinly sliced or 1 teaspoon dried sage
1 teaspoon chile powder, mild or medium depending on your preference
¼ cup all-purpose flour
2½ cups whole milk
Salt and black pepper to taste
For the eggs:
6 eggs, scrambled, poached, over easy, etc. (however you like them best)
Make the biscuits: Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. In a large bowl, combine the flour, cheese, herbes de Provence (if using), baking powder and salted butter. Stir in the half-and-half until just combined. Spoon onto a parchment- or Silpat-lined baking sheet into whatever size you want, making sure there is around 2 inches between each. Bake for around 25 minutes or until golden brown.
Make the gravy: In a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat, add the pork sausage and butter. Cook until the sausage is browned and cooked through. Add the onion, garlic, sage and chile powder. Cook for a few minutes until the onions are just starting to brown. Sprinkle on the flour and stir a couple minutes more. Whisk while pouring in the milk. Let gravy come to a simmer, whisking well to make sure any clumps are worked out. Taste and season as needed with salt and black pepper.
To serve: Slice a warm biscuit in half and place on the bottom of a bowl. Top with a spoonful of gravy and eggs. Serve immediately.