Saturday, December 22, 2012

drop biscuits and gravy

Have I talked here about my deep, deep love of America's Test Kitchen?  And Cook's Country?  They are like the public radio of the food world (except for their ridiculously expensive magazines).  They are like Alton Brown and Good Eats (RIP), except without the entertainment factor.  It's just straight-up food.  No gimmicks.  No marketing (I'm looking at you, Rachael Ray-brand dog food).  ATK is exactly what it sounds like.  A test kitchen where they just repeat recipes over and over and over until they are perfectly perfect. 

Now, the downside is that they don't let just anyone have access to all the recipes.  You either have to be quick enough to write them down while you're watching the shows on public television, or subscribe to the website or magazine. 

Or find a write-up on the WNYC website from three years ago.  (Coincidentally, I interned at WNYC for a semester in college!  It is one of my big regrets that I didn't take it more seriously, because a career in public radio is sort of still my dream.)

Drop biscuits are total lazy-person food.  You just mix it all together and bake.  No tedious rolling and cutting.  As predicted, this recipe was perfection.  I lowered the heat because our oven seems to run about 50 degrees hot, but if your oven is normal, bake at 475.

Drop Biscuits
10 oz (1 cup) AP flour (weighing is much more reliable for baking)
2 t baking powder
1 t sugar
3/4 t salt
1/2 t baking soda
1 C buttermilk, cold (I didn't have any, so I made clabbered milk:  take a scant cup of whole milk and add 1 T of fresh lemon juice.  Let sit ten minutes.  Works and tastes pretty much the same.)
8 T butter, melted and cooled slightly, plus more for brushing the tops if you want (I didn't and they were still plenty rich!)

Heat oven to 475.
Whisk together all the dry ingredients.  (I did this the night before so I could just throw this together in the morning.)

This is a half recipe, so everything you see here will be half the amounts of the full one above.
Combine buttermilk and melted butter, stirring until tiny clumps of butter form.

Add the buttermilk mixture to the dry ingredients, stirring just until it comes together and it pulls away from the side of the bowl.

Using a greased 1/4 cup measure, drop onto a parchment-lined baking sheet (I used a pizza stone with no parchment or grease.  Worked fine.)

Bake until they have risen well and the tops are golden-brown, about 12-14 minutes.
Let cool briefly and then serve while warm!

I told you our oven was crazy!  They shouldn't end up this brown.  Also, my poor pizza stone cracked in the inferno!

I served with sausage gravy.  (Actually, this morning I served this with country ham - that's why there's no pictures of the gravy.  But make it.  It's incredible.)  I could seriously eat this on just about anything.

Sausage Gravy
1 lb bulk pork breakfast sausage
1-2 T flour, depending on how much fat renders from sausage
1-2 C milk, depending on how tight you want your gravy
salt and pepper to taste

Cook the sausage over medium heat in a large skillet, using a spatula to break into small pieces as it cooks.  When it is fully cooked, assess how much fat is in the skillet.  If it is well-coated, go on ahead and add flour.  If it needs more fat, supplement with butter or bacon fat.  (Our sausage was quite lean, so I added a spoonful of bacon fat.)  Add flour a bit at a time, stirring well.  Keep sprinkling on flour until you see no more visible grease in the pan.  Allow the flour to cook with the sausage for a minute or two.  Add milk slowly into the pan, stirring constantly.  Allow it to bubble and thicken for several minutes.  Add more milk if you want a looser gravy.  Taste it.  Add plenty of pepper.  Ours didn't need any salt at all because the sausage was seasoned quite aggressively.  Add salt if you think it needs it.  Serve with fresh drop biscuits!

No comments: