Southern-Style Sawmill Sausage Gravy

This is one of those recipes I've never bothered to write down before, it's generally handed down from parent to child and made so many times over the years that it's memorized. When I was younger my grandmother would make up a huge batch of sausage gravy when we came to visit out on the farm and I would stand in the kitchen watching her work her magic. My brother and I could eat our weight in sausage gravy growing up, the only rule was that we had to clean our plate (not hard to do when breakfast tasted this good!)

I've moved over six hours from home, but every time I come to visit my parents still whip up a batch of drop biscuits and sausage gravy first thing on Saturday morning. My mom's twist to the recipe and one that I often use myself, is to use up any leftover milk we might have that is slightly past the expiration. Even if you don't have leftover milk to use up, try making a batch of sausage gravy this weekend, your family will thank you (and probably lick their plates clean.)

Sausage Gravy | Not Starving Yet

Sausage Gravy

makes 4 - 6 servings


Ingredients

½ lb hot breakfast sausage
¼ cup all-purpose flour, or more as necessary
2 cups milk, either 2% or whole
a pinch or two of garlic sea salt
black pepper, to taste

Directions

  • In a large skillet, over medium heat, cook and crumble breakfast sausage. Add flour and stir until all of the grease has been absorbed. If your sausage is particularly fatty you may need to add an additional tablespoon or two of flour until their is no visible grease left.
  • Add milk and bring the contents of the skillet to a boil, making sure to stir constantly and scrape the bottom so it does not burn. Once the gravy has thickened season with garlic salt and black pepper, then serve immediately over biscuits or toast.

Notes

If the consistency of the gravy is thicker than you prefer, add an additional several tablespoons of milk to thin it back out.

If you happen to have a large amount of milk that is slightly past the best-by date, then this is a great way to use it up.

 

Egg Drop Soup

Ahhh, Chinese food, I get hungry just thinking about you.  

If you couldn't tell, I'm a Chinese food addict and many of my favorite memories happen to coincide with a meal of Chinese takeout. I almost always start with a bowl of Egg Drop soup. When I was in college I was a Wednesday night regular at the Chinese buffet near school. I would sit around with friends studying for my 7pm graphic design class, stuffing myself silly and cramming for those pop quizzes Matt (my professor) was always fond of having. We had a lot of fun in those days, until the great ice storm of aught-six caused the roof to collapse. Sadly, they never reopened after that, but parts of the St. Louis area, including the University, were without power for several weeks due to the severity of the storm.

To this day I miss that restaurant, they had the best wait-staff I've ever encountered. They knew their regulars by name and always remembered what they preferred to drink. Before I managed to fill a plate my waitress had my drink of choice ready and waiting for me at the table. After my first few visits she didn't have to ask me what I wanted, she just knew.

That my friends is the sign of a good waitress.

My fond memories of Egg Drop soup actually go back quite a bit farther than my college days, all the way back to kindergarten. My teacher Mrs. K let us make it in class one day (it's a shame they don't let teachers do things like that anymore because that is one of my most vivid memories of school.) I don't remember why we were making it, but to 5 year old me it was absolutely fascinating to sit on the carpet watching her spoon long ribbons of egg into the pot. This is why it will be one of the first recipes I teach my son how to make. Since Chinese New Year is coming up later this month I thought I would share this comforting classic with you. It is especially tasty when you're sick or on a cold winter day when you need to warm up.

In other words, it is perfect for this unusually cold January weather we're having this year.

EggDropSoup.jpg

Egg Drop Soup
makes approximately 2-3 servings

Ingredients

2 large eggs
16 oz chicken stock
⅛ teaspoon ginger
⅛ teaspoon white pepper
¼ teaspoon salt (if you are using commercially prepared stock, omit this since it already has salt in it)

Garnish:

green onions
black pepper 

Directions

  • In a sauce pan combine chicken stock, ginger, white pepper and salt, then bring to a boil over medium-high heat.
  • While waiting for stock to boil, slice green onions and set aside. 
  • In a separate bowl, beat eggs until whites and yolks are well combines and set aside.
  • Once soup has begun to boil, turn heat to low. 

Don't add eggs while the broth is boiling, it will cause the ribbons to break up, leaving you with clumps of scrambled eggs instead.

  • Using a fork or slotted spoon, slowly drizzle egg into the broth making a circular motion above the pot.

If you are having trouble making the ribbons with a fork, try using a mesh strainer. It will allow the eggs to pass through slowly, ensuring your ribbons remain delicate. 

  • Garnish with black pepper and sliced green onions, then serve immediately.

This soup is best when served warm, as it cools the egg ribbons have a tendency to sink to the bottom.

Green Bean Casserole with Caramelized Onion, Bacon, and Mushrooms

One of my all time favorite holiday side dishes has always been French's green bean casserole. I'm a bit addicted to French's French fried onions, I like to put them on everything, although I'm perfectly happy to eat them straight out of the can. I know that I could make my own onion strings, but during the holidays I'll use whatever I can to save a little time here and there. Speaking of saving a little time, I still use canned soup and frozen green beans in my recipe and there is nothing wrong with that. This recipe is a classic for a reason and I just don't feel the need to mess with it (much) although I do like to make the recipe my own in some small way. This year I've classed things up a bit with some caramelized onions, apple wood smoked bacon, and an assortment of sliced mushrooms. I hope you enjoy my take on this holiday classic.
Caramelized Onions
Time: 30 minutes Makes: 1/2 cup

Ingredients:

1 Tablespoon salted butter
1 small yellow onion
1 skillet

Directions:

  • Cut onions to desired size, for this recipe they were diced so you'll want to watch them a little closer so they don't burn.
  • Over medium-low heat melt the butter in a medium sized skillet 
  • Add onions, stir to coat with butter, and let them cook. Make sure to check them every five minutes or so and give them a good stir to keep them from sticking to the bottom of your skillet.
  • When onions have reached the desired color, remove them from heat and allow them to cool. I stopped cooking mine after 25 minutes since I didn't want them very dark.

Notes

When choosing your skillet for making caramelized onions, stainless steel or cast iron is preferred, but non-stick works as well. In fact, I ran out of available cookware and ended up using a 10 inch non-stick skillet because it was the only thing clean.

These will store refrigerated for several days when kept in an air-tight container, so feel free to do this step in advance.

I forgot to take a photograph of the caramelized onions, but here are the mushrooms, bacon and onions all mixed together. Don't they look delicious? 
Green Bean Casserole
Time: 50 minutes Makes: 12 servings

Ingredients:

3 pieces of bacon 
4 oz package of assorted sliced mushrooms (I used baby bella, shiitake, and oyster mushrooms)
½ Cup caramelized onions
18 ounces Progresso Creamy Mushroom soup
½ Cup 2% milk
2 packages frozen green beans
2.8 ounce package French's french fried onions
fresh ground black pepper, to taste 

Directions:

  • In a large skillet cook three slices of bacon and set aside on a paper lined plate to cool.
  • Add sliced mushrooms to remaining bacon grease and cook until tender. Set aside to cool and allow bacon grease to drain.
  • Dispose of remaining bacon grease, but do not put it down the drain.
  • In a large bowl combine, green beans, cream of mushroom soup, milk, caramelized onions, crumbled bacon, and mushrooms. Add black pepper to taste, then stir until everything is well coated with cream of mushroom soup.
  • Transfer to a baking dish, top with a liberal amount of French's onions and bake 350°F for 30 - 40 minutes.

Notes

This dish will store refrigerated for several days when kept in an air-tight container so it can be made in advance and baked the day of your gathering. If you do plan on making it in advance make sure you don't add the French's onions until you are ready to bake.

Inspiration for this recipe:
French's Green Bean Casserole