Sunday, February 27, 2005

Biscuits and Gravy for the high cholesterol crowd

Any southerner worth his/her salt tries to eat biscuits and gravy on a regular (or semi-regular) basis. Most southerners, however, also vote Republican and die at an early age of advanced coronary disease. Because I'd like to avoid both those fates, I've developed a biscuits and gravy recipe for people like myself who wish vote progressively, eat southernly, and live to a ripe old age. Note, that I make no claims to low-fatness, only low cholesterolness....

Buttermilk Biscuits (I took this from The Joy of Cooking)

Preheat oven to 450 and then sift together:
1 3/4 c. flour
1/2 tsp. salt
2 tsp. baking powder
1 tsp. sugar
1/2 tsp. baking soda

Cut in with butter knife or pastry knife:
1/4 c. Earth Balance shortening (no cholesterol!)

Mix lightly with fork:
3/4 c. non-fat buttermilk

Put dough on floured board and knead with fingertips for 30 seconds. Pat out to 1/4 to 1/2 inch thickness. Cut with floured juice glass (small) or whisky tumbler (big). Put on cookie tray and bake for 10-12 minutes

Vegetarian, Low-Fat Sausage Gravy

1 tbsp. butter
1/2 tube (i.e. 1/2 pound) Gimme Lean veggie sausage
2 tbsp. butter
2 tbsp. flour
1 1/2 - 2 c. skim milk
salt and pepper to tase (I use about 1/2 tsp. each)

I use a cast-iron skillet for this recipe. Regardless, it's best to use a non-teflon pan, as you will be whisking the gravy... Anyway, heat your skillet/pan on medium heat and put in 1 tbsp. butter. When melted, add the sausage. As it cooks, break it into pieces about the size of cheerios. Some will be bigger, some will be smaller, but all will become brown and a little crispy. When done, set aside.

Melt 2 tbsp. of butter in pan. Add the flour while whisking. You are browning the flour to take away the flour taste. Cook this for about 1 1/2 to 2 minutes, whisking the entire time. Add about tbsp. of milk while whisking. At first, it won't combine well, but as you continue to mix, the flour will absorb the milk and turn into a thick goo. Add another couple tablespoons and continue whisking. The goo will become more liquid as you add more milk. Continue to cook. After about a cup of milk, add your sausage in and the salt and pepper, continuing to whisk. Continue adding milk. The gravy may look pretty liquidy after all the milk is added. You can cook it until it becomes the consistency you like. When it reaches that consistency, you're done!

Serve over biscuits.

I think a lot of folks think it's hard to make gravy. It's not. Likewise, it's not hard to make cheese sauce, bechamel, or a fine roux. Really, it's just a matter of cooking a little flour in some fat, and adding liquid. Try this recipe. If you can make it, you can make any other sort of liquidy treat.

Like I said, this is not totally low-fat. The butter will give you about 300 fat calories and 90 mg of cholesterol. If you use the vegan shortening, fat-free buttermilk, and skim milk, you'll get the full flavors with no cholesterol and lots less fat. If you're one of those disgustingly skinny folk or could give a flying fuck about cholesterol, I HEARTILY RECOMMEND using Jimmy Dean breakfast sausage and leaving out the butter in the gravy recipe. Why? As we all know, fat tastes good and, boyhowdy, don't Jimmy Dean put a lot of fat in his sausage.

If you're a right-winger, a fundamentalist, or some other sort of distasteful totalitarian who wants to ship me off to the camps please double the butter in this recipe, use a whole pound of Jimmy Dean sausage, and use both whole milk and whole fat buttermilk for this recipe. Thanks!