Today was a day that by most of the websites I check to see what national day it is was considered National Bouillabaisse Day. That’s right, a day for fish stew.
Nope. No way. No how.
If you wanted to hide something from me to make sure I would never touch it, just put it in a box or a can that is labeled “Fish Stew.” It would be left alone in perpetuity. As a person who does generally not like fish, the thought of a stew made out of fish is gagging. I’m sure it’s fine, if that’s your thing. But it’s not my thing and the last thing I wanted to see today was a soup with tiny squid tentacles and fish heads peeking up at me through a waft of odor that smelled like penguin breath. I’ll pass. Also, bouillabaisse is not a simple recipe and I didn’t have that in me today either. Does Campbell’s make a bouillabaisse? I’m sure that’s a fine delicacy if they do. There are probably some restaurants around town that serve a good bouillabaisse. Being a seaside community, you can assume such things. But it was still too much effort for me, at least for fish stew. So I put the kibosh on bouillabaisse.
After some checking, I noticed that some recognize this day as National Biscuits and Gravy Day. Now we are talking. That I can do. And that I did. I am not sure if I have ever ordered biscuits and gravy from a restaurant. When I see it on the menu, I’m alway intrigued because I like biscuits and to top them in gravy sounds pretty amazeballs. But because I’m a gluttonous American, I want more for breakfast than just biscuits, so I usually opt for something from the menu which sounds more substantial (although now I know that biscuits and gravy are quite substantial on their own). Still, I’m tempted every time I see those magic words together: biscuits and gravy.
Biscuits and gravy is a Southern thing, and God bless the south. It finds it’s origins in post Revolutionary War times when stocks of foodstuffs were in short supply. Breakfast was the most substantial meal of the day in the South, especially for a person facing a day of work on the plantations, so biscuits and gravy became a cheap way to provide a hardy meal that would stick to your ribs for the day.∗ Nowadays, I don’t think anyone is inspired to go work in the fields after a big breakfast of biscuits and gravy. I think it inspires more naps on couches and food comas. But long live the South.
I turned to one of my old standby southerners for a recipe: Ree Drummond, The Pioneer Woman from Food Network. I assumed she knew a thing or two about biscuits and gravy, and she did. Her recipe was easy as well. I went to Clement’s and picked up supplies. All I really needed were biscuits and some sausage for the gravy. I could have gone all out and made some biscuits from scratch, but I took the easy way out. Sometimes, Clement’s will have some delicious biscuits in their bakery department. We’ve gotten them before and made some great strawberry shortcake with them. However, they either don’t make them in the winter or they were sold out. No worries though because the Pillsbury Doughboy never let’s you down. I picked up a small tube of some Grand Biscuits. Then I grabbed some breakfast sausage. I went with a local sausage from Cranston, RI called Marcello’s (he’s like the Abe Frohman of Rhode Island). Buying sausage in RI is always tough because you have to sort through the pounds of chourico & linguica to find the breakfast sausage. But I finally stumbled upon the breakfast sausageland and picked up some nice looking links. Then it was back home to cook some breakfast for dinner.
I popped the canister of biscuits opened (a phrase that a real Sugarbaker would never say) and got them into the oven right away. I used to always be afraid at popping open those containers as if the blow would send me crashing back into the wall. I’m better at it now though. But it’s always a moment of anxiousness like Buddy the Elf waiting for the Jack in the Box to pop. When the biscuits were cooking, I popped the sausage out of it’s casing (that sounds like a euphemism), and started to cook it in a big pan. When it was cooked through, I added in some flour and coated the sausage. In my limited knowledge of cooking procedures, I can tell you that the flour was binding with the fat from the sausage to create a roux which would thicken the liquid I was about to add in. That liquid was milk which I did add in after the sausage cooked in the flour for a bit. I also added salt and pepper and let that bad boy cook, stirring every few minutes. Like any gravy, you start thinking that it’s all gone wrong and you just have a big bowl of sausage cereal cooking, but then magic happens and it starts to thicken. So my advice to anyone making gravy is just let it do its thing.
When all was done, I cut the biscuits in half and ladled on some of the gravy. This was some good stuff. Stick to your ribs, filling good stuff. It’s funny how the gravy gets so flavorful, but it really soaks in the sausage taste plus the pepper comes out strong as well. It was exactly what I was hoping for in a biscuits and gravy meal. My only regret was I didn’t have that homemade biscuit to go along with it. The Pillsbury biscuit was fine, light and fluffy, but a homemade one would have had a bit more texture to it that would have added a little some-some to it all. Still, a success. Lola had been out running some errands and when she came home, she said the house smelled awesome. I still have my cold, so I wasn’t getting the full effect of the aroma. I made her a plate. She thought that biscuits and gravy was more of a chicken gravy thing, which I must admit sounded equally as awesome, but I told her it was sausage and she was ok with that. And it was so good too. She savored hers as we watched the Survivor finale together (they should serve biscuits and gravy to the Survivors on a reward challenge).
That was a pretty nice way to end the day (and definitely a whole lot better than sucking on a bowl of fish heads and entrails in a stew). I surprised myself at how easy it was to make the gravy and at how good it came out in the end. I feel I unlocked some kind of Southern achievement level in my cooking game. That always feel good. I think it was because I didn’t overthink it. I just made it and that’s how you get things done. I am not sure if I’ll be making this everyday. I can’t imagine functioning if I was eating this every day, but it’s in my tool belt now and you never know when that will come in handy. So cheers to biscuits and gravy and may they always bring us comfort, sustenance and good hardy meals. Cheers!
∗ History provided by Wikipedia.
Next up: National Lemon Cupcake Day