We have a family tradition of going out for bagels every weekend (now purchased to go, of course) but I like to devote the other weekend morning to a big family breakfast at home. Breakfast is my favorite meal because it provides the perfect excuse to combine sweet and savory, something I tend to want at every meal. And there is something so nice about feasting together at the start of the day and having the whole rest of it lying before you. Back when socializing was a thing (and here’s hoping we get to return to that this year because I really miss it!), we would often entertain over brunch. I like nothing more than putting out a big spread and letting folks graze for hours. It is so relaxed and just has a different vibe than a dinner party. I also love having a houseful of overnight guests and preparing a big breakfast ready for everyone when they come downstairs. I am thinking maybe my retirement plans should include running a B&B, but I digress…
So this is an incredibly easy but substantive and filling brunch dish. You can mess around with it and make it yours but keeping it this simple means that those family members who complain about onions and mushrooms and parsley won’t fuss. I made some blueberry and chocolate chip muffins to serve alongside it to provide a sweet component to our meal, and a big fruit salad to offset the heaviness of the gravy (and because fruit salad is a staple at all of our brunches).
For the biscuits, I use Bobby Flay’s recipe:
4 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting
4 teaspoons baking powder
1 teaspoon baking soda
1 teaspoon salt
12 tablespoons cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces, plus more for greasing
1 1/2 cups cold buttermilk
1/2 cup heavy cream
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper, not super fine and not coarse, somewhere in between
2 tablespoons melted butter
Preheat the oven to 450 degrees F. Grease a baking sheet with butter or line with parchment paper.
Combine the flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl. Combine until the ingredients are incorporated. Cut in the butter using your fingers or a pastry cutter until the mixture resembles coarse meal. Add the buttermilk and gently mix until the mixture just begins to come together.
Scrape the dough onto a lightly floured counter. Pat the dough into a 10 by 12-inch rectangle about 3/4-inch thick. Cut into 2-inch squares or use a 2-inch round cutter to cut out biscuits. Press together the scraps of dough, and repeat the process. Place the biscuits on the prepared baking sheet. Brush the tops with cream and sprinkle with the black pepper. Bake the biscuits until lightly golden brown, 12 to 15 minutes. Brush the tops with the melted butter. Cool on a baking rack.
Okay, this is about as easy as it gets. Here is what I do… I am sure there are more sophisticated and complex versions of this, but this is perfectly tasty and so easy that I was able to make two types of muffins alongside it…. all before the girls came downstairs!
In a cast iron pan or heavy frying pan, saute some sausage. (I used a 1.5 pound package of mild ground sausage, but anything you like or have on hand will do.) Saute until browned (I kind of overdid it on the browning – which might have something to do with making muffins at the same time – so my gravy turned out darker than it usually does) and break it up into bite-sized pieces while it is cooking. Remove it from the pan with a slotted spoon, leaving the grease behind. Reserve it on a plate or in a bowl while you make the gravy.
In the sausage grease, add 2 tablespoons flour (amounts may vary depending on how much sausage you cooked up and how many people you are trying to feed) and stir with a whisk. Slowly pour in 2 cups whole milk (you can warm it a bit in the microwave or on the stove if you want to be the kindest to your roux, but cold milk works too) and whisk away to make a smooth, creamy gravy. Cook over a low flame until thickened to your preference, then add the sausage back in and stir to combine. Season with freshly ground pepper and salt.
To serve, split each biscuit on a plate and ladle a generous portion of sausage gravy on top of the biscuit bottom.