I decided that I wanted biscuits and gravy for breakfast, but I did not have my usual sage pork sausage—which wife, Jan, does not really prefer. I did have some Trader Joe’s chicken sausage in the freezer, so I decided to go with that. I did not used to make this kind of thing—except on special weekends—but I just had a hankering.
Karl’s Biscuits and Chicken Sausage Gravy
2½ cups flour, AP
2 Tbs. potato flour (starch)
1 Tbs. baking powder
1 tsp. kosher salt
2+ Tbs. Karl’s Orange Infused Sugar, separate uses
6 Tbs. unsalted butter, semi-frozen
1 large egg
1+ cup whole milk, separate uses (I use lactose free)
Chicken sausage gravy
6 chicken breakfast sausages, quartered lengthwise and sliced
½ cup. yellow onion, diced finely
3 Tbs. butter
3 Tbs. AP flour
2 cups milk (or one cup each milk and cream)
¼ tsp. cayenne
Pinch black pepper
Make the biscuits
Note: If you plan ahead, you can mix the biscuit’s dry ingredients and cut in the butter the night before. I have found that chilling the flour mixture overnight actually produces fluffier biscuits than doing it all in the morning.
1. Put a stick of butter (8 tablespoons) in the freezer for 20-30 minutes, until it is semi-frozen.
Tip: Putting a whole stick of butter in the freezer gives me a handle to keep my fingers away from the grater blades as I shave off six tablespoons.
Note: You do not want the butter to be frozen solid, because it then becomes hard to grate.
2. Sift the flour, potato starch, baking powder, salt, and sugar several times into a large bowl.
Tip: Repeated sifting helps distribute the ingredients evenly through the mix.
Note: If you have not blended your sugar to break up the bits of zest, you may need to add the sugar after sifting, as the zest will get caught in the flour sifter.
3. Using a box grater, grate ¾ of the stick of frozen butter into the flour mixture.
Tip: Half way through, stir the butter shreds into the flour, so that they do not clump together.
4. Use a pastry cutter, to break the butter shreds into tiny bits.
Tip: Many recipes have you cut the butter into large lumps and then you break them up with the pastry cutter. While this eventually works, the heat created by the repeated chopping starts to warm the butter. With the frozen butter shreds you only have to chop the butter a few times to get a thorough mix.
Note: Stop here and put the bowl in the refrigerator, if you are prepping the night before.
5. Preheat the oven to 400º F.
6. Put the egg in a large measuring cup and lightly scramble it.
Tip: I use a fork.
7. Measure one cup of milk and add some of it to the egg.
8. Scramble the milk/egg mixture well.
Tip: This allows you to scramble the egg well, without splashing it all over.
9. Add the rest of the milk and mix it in.
10. Make a well in the dry ingredients and add the milk mixture.
Tip: I have found that it is easier to add more flour to dry out a “wet” dough than to add liquid to a “overly dry” dough.
Note: Keep the measuring cup close to hand. You will add some more milk to it to brush on to the tops of the biscuits.
11. Use a spatula to combine the milk and flour mixtures, until most of the dry flour has been incorporated into the dough.
Tip: Unless you have cold hands—like my wife—you want to handle the dough as little as possible. Warm hands—like mine—will melt the butter.
12. Turn the dough onto a lightly floured surface and knead 7-8 times, until there is no visible dry flour.
Tip: Flour your hands and the kneading board well.
Note: If necessary, add a bit more flour to make a soft dough.
13. Form the dough into a ball and roll the dough out into a 14 X14 inch square.
Tip: Flour your rolling pin well, so that it does not stick and cause tears in the dough sheet.
Note: The dough sheet will be less than ¼ inch thick when you have it all rolled out.
14. Starting at the edge closest to you, fold one third of the dough sheet over the middle third.
Tip: You may need to use a bread board scraper to free the dough from your kneading surface.
15. Take the edge that is farthest from you and fold that third over the first two layers.
Tip: This is called a letter-fold.
Note: You will now have a rectangular piece of dough, three layers thick.
16. Letter fold the outer edges of this rectangle in to the center.
Note: This will produce a thick four inch square of dough nine layers thick.
17. Let the dough rest for two minutes.
Tip: This gives the gluten bonds time to relax and makes it easier to roll out again.
18. While the dough is resting, line a large lipped baking sheet with parchment paper.
Tip: I used to grease my baking sheets, but the biscuits tended to stick and burn. The parchment paper needs no grease.
19. Re-flour your board and roll the dough square into another 14 X14 inch square.
Note: Within each layer of dough, the cold butter will be squished into thin flakes, trapped in a gluten web.
20. Letter-fold the dough sheet again.
Tip: First the top and bottom edges and then the sides.
Note: You will now have a four inch square of dough with 91 layers.
21. Roll the dough out to one half inch thick.
Note: This will be about an eight inch square of dough.
22. Cut the biscuits out with a 2½ inch biscuit cutter.
Note: It is important to use a sharp-edged biscuit cutter to cut out your biscuits. I used to use a jar lid as a biscuit cutter. The dull edge of the lid pinched the layers of dough together around the edge of the biscuit—instead of slicing through each layer. Instead of being free to rise nice and evenly, the biscuits puffed up in the center and warped around the edges as the layer’s edges stuck together.
23. Place the biscuits on the baking sheet about an inch apart.
24. Gather up the remaining scraps and form them, into dough ball.
25. Role flat again and cut out 2-3 more biscuits.
Tip: I roll out this dough ball and letter fold it to create more layers.
26. Brush the tops of the biscuits with milk.
27. Bake the biscuits at 400° F, on the middle rack, for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown.
Tip: Rotate the baking sheet after 10 minutes.
28. Transfer the biscuits to a wire rack for 5 minutes to cool.
While the biscuits are baking make the gravy
29. Fry the sausage pieces in a small pot, over medium high heat.
30. Remove the sausage to a bowl.
Tip: Save cleanup buy using your serving bowl.
31. Sauté the onions with the salt until soft and just starting to pick up some color.
Tip: Use the moisture released by the onions to deglaze the pan.
32. Remove the onions to the bowl and add the butter to the pan.
33. Reduce the heat to medium and add the flour to the melted butter.
34. Cook, stirring frequently, until it forms a blond roux.
35. Whisk in the milk and continue cooking until there are no lumps and the gravy starts to thicken.
36. Stir the sausage, onions, and spices into the pan.
37. Continue cooking until the gravy is thick enough for you and the flavors have melded.
38. Serve the biscuits with the gravy on the side.
39. Diners split the biscuits in half and smother them in gravy.