05 February 2011

Biscuits and Gravy

A family tradition. When I was young, we went to my grandparent's house every Sunday morning for biscuits and gravy. As I got older we stopped going as often, then we stopped going altogether. I decided that if my grandma didn't want to make biscuits and gravy every Sunday, I should learn how to make them, and everyone could come to our house. So, I asked my grandma to teach me how to make them, and she agreed. I was so excited to learn from her and get the recipe!

As we were in the kitchen together getting ready to make biscuits and gravy, I asked her where the recipe was. To my surprise, she told me there wasn't a recipe; she just knew how to make them. At that point, I knew I had my work cut out for me. We got started on the biscuits. She put some shortening in a bowl and then added some flour. I asked her how much flour she added, and she told me she didn't know. She just knew what it supposed to look and feel like. I was beside myself. Then came the buttermilk, again, no measuring. Same with the sausage gravy; no measuring there either. Learning how to make biscuits and gravy proved to be no simple task.

We finished making breakfast together that morning, and the biscuits and gravy turned out to be delicious. I studied her every move in the kitchen that day, but I was nervous to try it myself. I was finally ready to try it myself, and my parents invited my grandparents over for biscuits and gravy. I had all my ingredients ready and got started. My grandparents arrived before breakfast was done and I remember my grandma asking me if I needed any help. I politely declined since I wanted to try to do it myself. The biscuits were in the oven and I was working on the sausage gravy. As I added the milk, little lumps were scattered throughout the gravy. I whisked and whisked to no avail; my gravy was lumpy. To add insult to injury, my biscuits were dry and crumbly.

Everyone ate my biscuits and gravy that morning, but I think they were just being nice. They really weren't very good. I had a long way to go before my biscuits and gravy would be like my grandma's. I didn't give up though, I was determined to make them right. The gravy technique came fairly easy, after a couple more tries, it was no longer lumpy and had good flavor. The biscuits, though, those posed more of a problem. Some were too dry, some were too dense, some fell apart, and some were just plain inedible. Then, one day, it all clicked.

Learning from all my past biscuit failures, I soon learned what the batter was supposed to look and feel like at each stage of the mixing process. My biscuits were consistently coming out of the oven light, fluffy, golden, brown and delicious. The only variation was how many biscuits each batch would make; sometimes 12, sometimes 14 or 16 or more! I had the technique down, and I was making biscuits like crazy. I was the first time I really understood what I was doing in the kitchen, not just blindly following a recipe. Learning how to make biscuits is really what developed my love of cooking.

I don't make biscuits and gravy every Sunday, but I do make them quite often throughout the year. Whenever we visit my dad in Louisville, I almost always make biscuits and gravy on Sunday morning before we leave. I also make them when they come to visit, too. It has become tradition for me to make them on Christmas morning for the in-laws. I've thought about writing down a recipe, measuring out the ingredients as I go, but I haven't done that yet; and honestly, I don't know if I want to. I'm just happy that I was able to keep the tradition alive.


  1. I'd love try these someday Luke! You've made the Pilsbury doughboy cry by the way, out of neglect.

  2. I'd love to make these for you! I know we talked about it, but it never materialized.

    You inspired me to make AB's cinnamon rolls again, so I made good ol' Poppin' Fresh cry double time!

  3. I had a similar experience trying to make my Grandma's beef and dumplings. It is so satisfying once you get it!

  4. Tell me about it! Once it clicked, I had such a sense of accomplishment. Beef and dumplings sound delicious, by the way!



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