Cream Biscuits with Sausage, Mushroom, and Onion Gravy

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Why are biscuits and gravy so ugly? I’ve never been served them at a home or restaurant and thought: these look delicious. While I think visual appearance of food is so incredibly important, the sloppy appearance of biscuits and gravy in no way dissuades me from eating them. They’re just so good.

Growing up I would always ask my dad to make me biscuits and gravy. I sort of consider it his signature breakfast dish and it was an exciting day when he taught me how he makes them. He tends to leave his sausage in larger chunks and also adds mushrooms, which results in a slightly heavier, more substantial gravy than what you might receive at a restaurant. Wanting mine to be reminiscent of his, I haven’t made many changes, except the addition of caramelized onion (which I think makes everything better).

While I’ve been known to use canned, refrigerated biscuits due to laziness (I despise mornings and tend not to function very well), I’ve recently found a foolproof, incredibly simple biscuit recipe that can be made while groggy and partially asleep. Instead of worrying about cutting butter and flour together with a pastry blender, all you do is mix flour with heavy cream. It’s that easy!

The Easiest Biscuits in the World (aka Heavy Cream Biscuits)

Adapted from Smitten Kitchen (where it was adapted from James Beard’s American Cookery)

  • 2 tablespoons melted butter
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour, plus more for dusting the surface
  • 1 tablespoon baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 1/2 cups heavy cream

Preheat the oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or silicon mat. Melt butter in a small pot or microwave dish, and set aside. Sift two cups flour, the baking powder, and salt into a large bowl. Fold in 1 1/4 cups cream. If the dough is not soft or easily handled, fold in the remaining 1/4 cup cream, little by little (I ended up using the remaining cream, but you want to add it in portions so your dough isn’t too wet).

Turn dough onto a floured surface, mound it into a ball and, using your hands, press it to a thickness of about 3/4 inch. Cut into rounds, 3 1/2 inches in diameter. Gather dough scraps and continue to make rounds (I decided to make rather large biscuits and it made 5). Arrange biscuits on prepped sheet pan and generously brush each biscuit with melted butter.

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Bake in preheated oven for 18-20 minutes, or until golden brown.

Note: if you want to make smaller size biscuits (using a 2 1/2 inch diameter cutter), you’ll make approximately 10-12 biscuits and bake them for 12-15 minutes.

Sausage, Mushroom, Caramelized Onion Gravy

Adapted from my dad’s version

  • 1 onion, small dice
  • A few drizzles of olive oil
  • 16 oz sausage (ground, or casings removed)
  • 8 crimini mushrooms, sliced
  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 1/3 cup flour
  • 3 cups milk
  • 1 pinch cayenne pepper (optional)
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Note: I like using either spicy chicken sausage or breakfast chicken sausage. Since chicken and turkey sausages tend to be leaner than pork sausage, the 3 tablespoons of butter is necessary to make the gravy. If you choose to use a fatty pork sausage, you likely won’t need 3 tablespoons of butter (probably only 1).

Heat olive oil in a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Add diced onion and approximately 1/2 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sautee for a minimum of 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, until onion has caramelized (will be a golden brown color and onions will naturally sweeten).

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, over medium-high heat, fry sausage. Once the sausage is beginning to brown (approximately 3 minutes), reduce heat to medium, add the sliced mushrooms and cook for approximately 5 minutes, until mushrooms are tender and sausage is nicely browned.

Add butter to pan and let fully melt. Once melted, sprinkle in the flour, and stir until sausage and mushrooms are coated. If the flour isn’t getting absorbed, chances are you don’t have enough fat, so add more butter if necessary. Continue to cook for a minute or so, just to get rid of the raw flour taste. Pour in milk and sprinkle in cayenne (if using), stir in caramelized onion mixture, and cook until gravy thickens, approximately 10-15 more minutes. Taste for seasoning. I like my gravy peppery, so I add approximately 1 1/2 to 2 teaspoons, but use your judgment and add as much as you desire. I find I typically don’t have to add much salt as the sausage I use is typically very nicely seasoned.

To serve, I split open a biscuit and top each half with a generous serving of gravy.

Delicious, but ugly biscuits and gravy…

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