I pose to you the eternal brunch quandary: sweet or savory, sweet or savory. The debate runs through my head on an endless loop, like cartoon birds circling a knockout, as I pour over the menu. Drinks are easy; just order three (for me—coffee, diet coke, and a mimosa) as they all serve different and necessary functions insofar as brunch’s concerned. I usually make conversation with my companions as though I’m not completely overwhelmed by the prospect of choosing between an egg sandwich with house-cured bacon and its sexy-sounding aioli or the Belgian waffle with mac-nut sauce. And since I pig out in the beverage department (or should I say camel out since we’re talking liquids?), ordering both is simply not an option.
Well, if you’re indecisive enough to find yourself in a similar scenario, hopefully you also have a group of friends who make the choice easy. Take it from the Buttertooth Boosters and order either biscuits and gravy or a stack of waffles—wait for it—for the table. (Honestly, “for the table” are probably my three favorite words to utter at a restaurant, followed closely by “more wine, please.”) I’m not quite sure when my friend group decided to start ordering breakfast entrées as if they were appetizers, but it was probably sandwiched between an unfortunate night at Talayna’s and a sleepover on one of Kathy’s four air mattresses. So a tradition was born. Who cares if the server gives us an odd look or if the food runner jokes that the table may buckle under the weight of our many plates? We need them all, dude.
This breakfast dish, then, is an homage to those friends and also sausage gravy. You can’t hail from Missouri and not hold a strong opinion about biscuits and gravy (said opinion usually being GIVE THEM TO ME NOW). This is an easy, comforting, cold-weather breakfast that I think most everyone can enjoy. I, however, now live in a state whose traditional breakfast, while delicious, doesn’t involve smothering carbs in milk-based gravy. Which is fine—because it’s incredibly easy to make at home. And, when serving at my casa, you don’t have to worry about a dog-friendly patio. This is a dog-mandatory brunch house. Bring that pood, or don’t get fed.
We’ve had some fun interpreting this classic by baking it almost reminiscently of chicken and dumplings. Thus the presentation is slightly elevated and also incorporates hash browns in a way that has so far been neglected from a serving standpoint. It’s a comfort skillet topped with more comfort (read: gravy) and, for the frisky among us, even an egg on top. Put a bird on it, I say.
Are we still doing that?
- 1 pound loose breakfast sausage (we like spicy)
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- ¼ cup all purpose flour
- 1 ½ cups milk (2% or whole)
- ½ cup half and half (you can make this milk if you prefer leaner)
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- Heat a large skillet over medium heat. Once hot, brown the sausage in small pieces, adding the garlic about 3 minutes into the cooking (when sausage is half cooked).
- Once browned, remove the sausage with a slotted spoon and set aside on a separate plate. Lower the heat to medium-low.
- There should be a fair amount of fat leftover--if you estimate more than two tablespoons worth, discard all but the 2 tablespoons of sausage fat. If there isn’t enough, add 1-2 tablespoons of butter to the skillet.
- Incorporate the flour, whisking constantly. Keep whisking for about a minute.
- Slowly whisk in the milk and the half and half. Keep whisking until fully combined. The milk will thicken, making the gravy. Once thickened, remove from heat, mix in the sausage, and season additionally to taste. Cover and keep warm until ready to use.
- 2 cups flour
- 2 tbsp sugar
- ½ tsp kosher salt
- 1 tbsp baking powder
- ¼ tsp baking soda
- 6 tbsp butter, diced, cold
- 1 cup buttermilk
- 1 egg for wash, lightly beaten
- Whisk together dry ingredients. Incorporate butter with a fork, pastry cutter, or your fingers until it resembles coarse meal and some pea-sized lumps of butter remain.
- Make a well in the center of the bowl and add buttermilk. Mix until just combined.
- Turn the dough out onto a floured work surface and use your hands to pat dough to desired thickness. The less you handle your dough, the more tender your biscuits will be.
- Use a round biscuit cutter to punch out rounds. Chill until ready to assemble skillet.
- 2 lbs of russet potatoes, peeled
- vegetable oil
- Using a box grater or the grating attachment of the food processor, grate the russet potatoes on the large grater.
- Place grated potatoes on paper towels, and then wrap them so you can squeeze as much moisture out as possible.
- Place the squeezed potatoes on a paper towel lined plate, and cover with another paper towel. Microwave for approximately 3-5 minutes, or until they are a bit sticky/cooked.
- Meanwhile, heat a large sauté pan over medium high heat and add enough vegetable oil to cover the bottom.
- Once hot, add the potatoes in a single layer. Cook them for about 3-5 minutes, or until browned on one side. Flip them over into the skillet you are cooking the biscuits and gravy in. If you are using the same skillet for your hash browns that you are your biscuits and gravy, remove this pan from heat. If you are using a different skillet, make sure it has been heating in the oven and place the uncooked side down, with the cooked side on top.
To Assemble: Preheat the oven to 425F. In the same cast iron skillet with the hash browns, add ½ of the gravy, spreading evenly. Arrange the biscuits over the gravy, leaving only a little room in between each, so they can expand as they bake. Brush the biscuits with an egg wash (1 egg beaten with 1 tablespoon of water and a splash of cream), and bake on middle rack for 35-40 minutes. You may need to cover the biscuits with foil near the end of the baking process to ensure they don’t overly brown before cooking through.
Once done, let rest for 5 minutes. During this time, warm the remaining gravy over medium heat, and add about 1/3 cup of milk to it. The gravy thickens quite a bit when it rests, so this serves to thin the gravy out. Serve with this additional gravy and a fried egg, if so desired.