International Buffet – Biscuits and Gravy
Special thanks to Rose, Host mum and Julianna from the USA. Scroll down for the recipe and cooking instructions.
“We chose Biscuits and Gravy, a dish I’ve never had”, explains Rose. “Julianna says her mum made it often for breakfast, but instead of making the biscuits from scratch, they are available commercially. In researching what they are online, I realised that the biscuits were more or less what we call scones”.
We asked Rose what she learned about the American culture while she was cooking with Julianna:
“It seems that food is a very big part of the family experience in the US, but they do use a lot of packaged goods. Julianna’s mother often just gets the biscuits straight out of the freezer. We actually made ours from scratch!”.
We asked Rose what her initial thoughts were about the dish:
“The gravy was a puzzle. Minced meat in a white sauce was something I had never done. It sounded rather strange to me initially, but it was actually much nicer than I expected. It was very nice, I must say that I will keep this in mind for future, especially in putting the scones as a base for the sauce”.
“Cooking the dish with “Mum” brought back a lot of memories of my real mom back home and having breakfast with my siblings in the morning”, explains Julianna. “Food here is somewhat different to back home but the school life and system here is very different.”
We asked Julianna what she will miss when she returns home to the USA: “I will miss Mt. Beauty and its tranquility… but I won’t be missing those loud birdies that you have here!”.
Julianna had been with her host family for a few months and was quite settled in when they prepared the biscuits and gravy, however they felt it was fun to work together on this activity – they interacted a lot, chatted and had a lot of laughs together. Julianna has since returned to the USA, but remains in contact with the host family and Rose has only recently seen her own daughter Mariele off on her exchange to Canada.
“She was a quiet presence in the house”, explains Rose, “But when she gets going she has funny stories to tell about her life back home and the things she is interested in. It’s been enjoyable seeing my home country in the eyes of a foreigner”.
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon baking powder
6 tablespoons chilled vegetable shortening
2/3 cup whole milk
Milk Gravy (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees F.
In a large bowl, sift together flour, salt, and baking powder. With a pastry blender or two knives, cut in vegetable shortening until particles are the size of small peas; make a well in the center. Sprinkle in milk, 1 tablespoon at a time, tossing with fork until all flour is moistened and pastry dough almost cleans side of bowl (1 to 2 teaspoons additional milk can be added if necessary). NOTE: You want the ingredients to barely bind or stick together.
On a lightly flour surface, knead dough gently about 20 times. Gently roll dough to 1/2-inch thickness. Cut with a floured 2-inch biscuit cutter or a drinking glass. Place biscuits onto an ungreased baking sheet. Place close together for soft-sided biscuits or 1-inch apart for crisp-sided ones.
Biscuits Making Hints and Tips:
- For tender and flaky biscuits, have the fat (butter, margarine, or vegetable shortening) chilled. Cut the fat into the dry ingredients until particles are the size of small peas.
- Excess handling causes tough biscuits. Do not re-roll the dough.
- Always bake biscuits on pans without sides. The heat will circulate more evenly than on pans with sides.
Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. Remove from oven and immediately remove from baking sheet.
Split or cut the biscuits in half and top with the prepared hot Milk Gravy. Serve warm.
Makes 10 to 12 biscuits.
1/4 cup pan drippings (bacon drippings or sausage drippings)*
1/4 cup all-purpose flour
2 cups milk or heavy cream, room temperature
Salt and pepper to taste
* You can use the drippings from any meat, but bacon and sausage are the traditional ones used.
In a medium frying pan over medium-high heat, combine bacon or sausage dripping and flour. Slowly brown the flour, stirring constantly (I like to use a wire whisk), to a dark golden brown (you need to keep an eye on this as it may brown too quickly).
Gradually or slowly add the milk or cream, stirring constantly until all is added, and continue cooking and stirring until the gravy is smooth and thick. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Makes enough gravy for 10 to 12 homemade biscuits.