(Oct. 18, 2019) Memories come to the forefront as one stroll’s the path of chance.
“Choice” embellishes these wonderful recollections and seasons the steps of destiny.
Tradition influences point of view and our “roots” should not be forgotten. These treasured recipes are part of our heritage and the secret for success.
I can see Nanny hovering over the old stove in her petite robe and comfy slippers. Nanny loved home cooking and she knew how to season everything to perfection.
When my grandmother made sausage gravy, she paid extra attention to the mixing of the fat and flour. Whether she knew this was considered a roux, I do not know.
But what I do know is she made the best sausage gravy.
And how do you think she learned about this and other heirloom recipes? The answer is simple: by word of mouth, watching her mother and asking questions.
Adjustments infuse the element of surprise which keeps guests coming back for more.
I have taken Nanny’s sausage gravy recipe and added my own twist to it. If you enjoy this hearty breakfast, you might want to continue reading.
I am going to stir things up right from the get-go.
Conventional sausage gravy is made with breakfast sausage, but I prefer to use Italian sausage for several reasons.
First and foremost, Italian sausage produces more fat which means more drippings. In addition, Italian sausage has more flavor than breakfast sausage.
Also, Italian sausage has better texture, which makes for a meatier and more interesting dish.
The next consideration is whether one should only use sweet or combine sweet and hot sausage. I prefer to use both, but the choice is up to the individual cook.
Traditional sausage gravy recipes call for whole milk. Half and half cream yields a more velvety and luxurious sauce. This rich base reinforces decadence to what is considered a very modest dish.
Lumps are the next topic of conversation.
Lumps form when the flour is not properly mix with the fat. The most common thickening agents to make a roux are all-purpose flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot powder.
To thicken the sauce, a basic roux is made with equal parts of fat and flour. The fat adds depth of flavor and also coats the flour to prevent clumping as the starches in the flour cook and thicken in the cooking liquid.
Always use room temperature or cool liquid to the hot roux. Gradually add the cream and continuously whisk to separate the starches so they will swell to their maximum potential.
If you should develop lumps, do not fret. Simply strain the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve, then return the sauce to the pan, season, add the cooked sausage and continue cooking.
There is one important note to make. If you cook the sausage gravy in advance, it has a tendency to thicken up. Add a splash of milk to thin it out before serving.
I miss Nanny very much and cannot believe she is no longer with us. I believe she would like the adjustments that I have made.
One thing is for sure, cooking from the heart adds a special touch that keeps loved ones near. Enjoy!
Homemade Sausage Gravy
2 lbs. Italian sausage
2 tablespoons bacon drippings
2/3 cup all-purpose flour
8 cups half and half
3 ½ teaspoons kosher salt
½ teaspoon black pepper
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried crushed rosemary
several dashes of favorite hot sauce (optional)
freshly ground black pepper
fresh sage leaves as a garnish (optional)
1. Remove casings from the sausage and tear the meat into small to 1-inch pieces.
2. Place the pieces of sausage in a large skillet or sauté pan over medium-high heat, and cook until they are no longer pink. Remove the sausage and place in a bowl. Set aside.
3. Mix the bacon drippings and flour with the sausage fat. Reduce heat to medium and cook the roux for 2 minutes, constantly stirring.
4. Add 1 cup of half and half to the roux and whisk until all of the lumps are dissolved. Repeat this process for the second, third and fourth cup.
Then, add two cups and again make sure the gravy is lump free. Add the remaining 2 cups of cream and whisk to form a smooth consistency.
5. If you have any lumps, this is the time to strain the gravy through a fine-mesh sieve.
6. Add salt, black pepper, garlic powder, onion powder, rosemary, hot sauce and sausage. Stir to fully incorporate all the ingredients.
7. Reduce heat to a simmer, cover and cook for 4 minutes. Serve over hot biscuits and add a light dusting of freshly ground black pepper and a garnish of fresh sage.
Secret Ingredient – Roots. “It is in the roots, not the branches, that a tree’s greatest strength lies.”
– Matshona Dhliwayo