I’m so excited!! I just made my very first batch of biscuits and gravy. Ever! I know, I know…I’m 45, from southern Indiana and never made biscuits and gravy. I think irrational fears kept me from it. I have two big fears:
- how to make vegan sausage gravy taste as normal as possible and
- how to make whole wheat biscuits that are fluffy and flaky like the white ones gramma used to make.
The Biscuits: Lessons Learned So Far
My mom never could get the hang of biscuits. Hers always turned out too hard and grandpa always said, “them biscuits ah break a winder” (i.e., window).
Well, my biscuits weren’t much better this first time but I suspect it was because I used whole wheat pastry flour. From reading on the Internet, I’m gathering that you just can’t get fluffy and light with whole wheat. I’ll have to use white flour but I’m going to start by trying a blend of white and whole wheat. Once I get something decent, I’ll post the final recipe and photos.
Tips: Seems like a no brainer but bears repeating: knead your dough AS LITTLE AS POSSIBLE. The recipe I used said knead dough 15 to 20 times, I did 10 and it started to get a little dense. But this will also change once I start experimenting with white and wheat flour blends. It will also be affected by the ratio of fat to flour. The recipe I used called for 2 cups of flour to 1/3 cup of margarine. I’ve read elsewhere that you need 1/2 cup fat to 2 cups flour so that’s what I’ll try next time.
The Gravy: Lessons Learned So Far
Now, for the sausage gravy. I think I’m just about there with this one and it’s insanely easy. For the sausage, I used Upton’s Naturals® Italian-style seitan and crudely chopped it into crumbles. I’ve used other fake sausages over the years and this is by far, the best for crumbling into recipes (hear that Gimme Lean? Upton’s got you beat!). It browns nicely in Earth Balance® margarine and actually tastes the closest to real sausage. And even though there are some Italian spices in the mix, they’re not so pronounced that Upton’s won’t work in a Midwestern sausage gravy.
I created the gravy largely the way gramma used to: fry the sausage, make a roux, add milk. That’s pretty much it. The only things I had to be careful of are the following:
- Upton’s seitan sausage does tend to soak up the fats and since it’s not real sausage and doesn’t produce it’s own fat, I fried it in Earth Balance® margarine. So use a non-stick skillet and after the crumbles are browned and toasty, remove all but about a tablespoon of them into a bowl and set aside fer a bit.
- Most of your fat (in this case, Earth Balance margarine) will be gone so just add another tablespoon or 2 to the skillet and melt with the remaining tablespoon of crumbles before adding flour for your roux. Watch your roux carefully and sir it lots so it doesn’t burn. Remember, equal parts fat to flour for a roux.
- If you’re using home made soymilk without all the thickeners and other additives, you’ll need more roux and maybe less milk. Home made soymilk is much thinner than store bought. Warning: don’t add flour after you’ve added the milk because your gravy will get lumpy, not thicker. If you’ve accidentally added too much soy milk, simmer it for a bit to evaporate as much as possible and if that doesn’t work, make additional roux (flour fried in fat) and whisk into the gravy while simmering. Less likely to result in lumps.
- Add salt to your gravy last. Your fake sausage will likely have salt and you risk making your gravy too salty if you salt too soon.
Here’s a rough recipe for how I made the gravy. I’ll firm this up and repost later:
- 1 package Upton’s Naturals® Italian-style Seitan, chopped into crumbles
- 5 tablespoons Earth Balance® margarine
- 3 tablespoons flour
- 3 cups soymilk, unsweetened and unflavored
- Melt 2 T. margarine in non-stick skillet.
- Add sausage crumbles and fry on med-high until brown and slightly crispy.
- Remove all but 1 tablespoon of crumbles from skillet, set aside.
- Add remaining tablespoon of margarine to skillet, melt.
- Add flour and continue stirring until roux is toasty brown.
- Add milk 1 cup at a time and keep on med-high, stirring constantly until thick.
- After gravy is thick, add sausage crumbles back in, simmer a bit more and adjust salt to taste.
Note: if using home made soymilk, consider carefully whether to add the 3rd cup, depends on the thickness of the gravy after the 2nd cup. Use your judgement.
More to come once I get the biscuits perfected!