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FEATURE: COOKING LOCAL Biscuits and Wild Mushroom Sausage Gravy

March 05, 2010

Baking Powder Biscuits

2 cups sifted flour
2 tsp. baking powder
4 tablespoons butter or shortening
1/2 tsp. salt
about 3/4 cup milk
Sift the flour once, and then measure it. Add the baking powder and salt, and sift again. Cut in the shortening or butter. I like using a fork to cut in the butter. Some people freeze the butter and use a cheese grater, while others use softer butter and just their hands.
Add the milk gradually, stirring until a soft dough is formed. Turn the dough out on a lightly floured board and barely "knead" for 30 seconds or so, just enough to shape it all together. The trick to tender and flaky biscuits is not to overwork the dough, so play with it as little as possible.
Now roll the dough out to about 1/2 inch thick and cut with a 2 inch floured biscuit cutter. I actually don’t have a biscuit cutter, so I either use a glass turned upside down or I just use a knife.
Bake the biscuits on an ungreased sheet in a 400 degree oven for 12-15 minutes. For softer biscuits, place them closer together, and for crustier ones make sure there is plenty of room in between. This recipe should make about 12 biscuits or so, of course depending on how big you make them. Pull them out of the oven when they get nice and golden brown on top.

Morel and sausage gravy (for biscuits)

1 pound fresh ground sausage (not links)
4-8 ounces sliced morel mushrooms (or more if you’ve got ‘em)
8 ounces conventional white or brown mushrooms, sliced (less if you have lots of morels)
½ white onion, diced
3 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
3 cups milk
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
1 tsp chopped fresh thyme
A pinch of dried rosemary
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a large heavy skillet (preferably cast iron), brown the sausage breaking it up with a spatula over medium high heat. Drain off about half of the fat and add the butter, sliced mushrooms, and onions. Continue to sauté until the mushrooms are tender and the onions translucent.
Now add the flour, salt and pepper, rosemary and thyme. Ooh, a pinch of sage might taste really good in here as well. I recommend adding the flour a little bit at a time, so it doesn’t clump up.
Cook this mixture, stirring constantly over a medium heat, until flour begins to brown. Now slowly add milk while continuing to stir. Bring this up to a simmer and cook for another minute or so, still stirring. Remember that as the gravy cools it will continue to thicken, so add a little more milk or hot water if you want it to be thinner. You may need more liquid to compensate for all these wonderful mushrooms!
 

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