Good Ol’ Southern Biscuits with Homestyle Chicken and Bacon Gravy from Paula Deen’s Best Dishes 2011

If you are from the south or have lived here long enough to know what I’m talking about when I say, “gravy,” please skip this paragraph and move on to the next one. If you think that when I use the word gravy I’m talking about the dark thick stuff that’s poured over mashed potatoes and meat at Thanksgiving, stick around. The Chicken and Bacon Gravy of which Paula talks is also called white or sawmill gravy down here. Basically, it’s a  béchamel sauce that’s been made with meat drippings instead of butter (in this case bacon drippings), then milk as the liquid and, of course, flour for thickening. Black pepper is a must as well. You need to see the black specks. Sausage gravy uses this as a base and then just adds in crumbled, cooked breakfast sausage.

Now that we’re all back together, let’s get on with Paula’s recipe for biscuits and gravy with a fancy name, shall we? Our family ate a late picnic lunch on Pilot Mountain this afternoon. If you want to know what Pilot Mountain is, check out my 7 Quick Takes on Friday. I’ll let you know. We ate a bit late so no one was overly hungry this evening. That being the case, biscuits and gravy sounded perfect.

These are also very simple to make. There is no reason. I repeat. There is no reason to fear making southern biscuits. I’m not southern and I can do it. You can too, I promise. Start with self-rising flour. Make sure it’s self-rising and not bread flour. Self-rising includes baking powder and salt. Bread powder has more gluten. To the flour add pieces of butter and incorporate them using a pastry fork until crumbly. Pour in buttermilk and stir the dough with a fork, just until it comes together.

It goes from here on to a lightly floured board. Knead it just three to four times to get it smoothed out, then pat it out until it’s a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Fold it in half to make it 1/2-inch thick and cut out the circles using a glass, empty soup can or 3″ cutter (I used a glass). Lay them on a greased cookie sheet and bake. That’s it.

The gravy is just as easy. I didn’t have any bacon, unfortunately, but I always have a canning jar with bacon drippings in the fridge just case I want to make liver and onions, greens or now this gravy. A few tablespoons matches the drippings that would have been in 4 bacon slices. To that I added flour and made a roux, whisking it constantly until it was smooth and turned light brown. Then I added the chicken broth and milk and whisked again, this time for 10 minutes, until it was nice and thick. The pepper went in and I was done. The recipe called for salt, but when I tasted the gravy before adding any I found it to be salty already, probably from the bacon I used, so I didn’t add more.

That’s it for good, old fashioned southern biscuits and wholesome, very tasty gravy. Oh yes, as you can see from the top picture, the gravy gets poured on top of the biscuits. You should try this in the morning with a couple of fried eggs and hash browns. It’s like you’ve died and gone to heaven.

Hubby and I both liked the biscuits with and without the gravy. They were light and fluffy and very, very tasty. The gravy was just about perfect too, just still a little salty. But the balance between the chicken broth and bacon was perfect so no flavor overwhelmed the other. Dudette, unfortunately, isn’t a gravy fan (yet). She’s already picked up the southern drawl that her parents haven’t but apparently southern food doesn’t have the same draw. The biscuits with just a slather of butter disappeared from her plate.

I can’t blame her for liking them that way. I do too.

Good Ol’ Southern Biscuits with Homestyle Chicken and Bacon Gravy
from Paula Deen’s Best Dishes 2011

2 cups self-rising flour
1/2 cup chilled butter, cut into 1/4-inch slices
1 cup whole buttermilk
Melted butter (optional)
Homestyle Chicken and Bacon Gravy (recipe follows)

Preheat oven to 450. Prepare a baking sheet by spraying it with nonstick spray or using a silpat.

Put flour in a medium bowl. Cut in the butter with a pastry blender until the mixture resembles crumbs. Slowly pour in the buttermilk and use a spoon to stir it until it is just combined.

Turn the dough onto a lightly floured board and gently knead it 2-3 times, or until it is smooth. Pat the dough into a 1/4-inch thick rectangle. Fold the dough in half so it is now 1/2-inch thick. Use a 3″ cutter or other item with a similar diameter (like a drinking glass) to cut out the biscuits and put them on  the cookie sheet.  If desired, brush them with the melted butter.

Bake the biscuits for 12-15 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with the gravy.

Homestyle Chicken and Bacon Gravy

4 slices bacon
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
1 10.5-ounce can chicken broth
1 cup whole milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

Cook bacon until crisp in a large skillet. Remove bacon to a plate covered with a paper towel to drain, then crumble it and set aside.

Whisk flour into the hot drippings in the skillet until smooth. Continue to cook the mixture over medium-high heat until it turns a light brown. Carefully whisk in the chicken broth and milk and continue to cook the mixture over medium heat for about 10 minutes, until it’s thickened and bubbly.

Add salt and pepper and top with crumbled bacon if desired.

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