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biscuits & gravy w/ eggs, country ham

I recently ate breakfast with a friend and what was served was something called "biscuits & gravy" along with eggs and ham. Initially, I was skeptical because I usually never eat dairy but my friend told me to try it all together. So, I made sure to include a bite of the biscuit, sausage gravy, eggs, and ham. Oh my! It was very good! Immediately, I said that I will have to find a way to cook that as soon as I get home. That was a couple of days ago. These are the recipes that I have found:

http://allrecipes.com/recipe/bills-sa...
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/gregs-so...
http://allrecipes.com/recipe/maple-br...
http://www.chow.com/recipes/28626-bas...
http://www.mrbreakfast.com/article.as...

Country ham ?
http://www.mrbreakfast.com/glossary_t...

^
#1.
I wanted to know what you all thought about these recipes? They were the most simple recipes that I could find that seemed able to be cooked with the limited equipment that I have in the community kitchen where I live. The only dishes I have is a big aluminum stock pot, a crappy pan, a smaller pot, and an even smaller pot.

#2. Issues with the recipes I found:
2a. sausage gravy recipe -
^ I don't have anything to whisk with, can I just use a spoon or a fork? Also, can I just use a regular spoon instead of a slotted spoon?

2b. breakfast sausage recipe -
^ no issues from what I can see.

2c. scrambled eggs -
^ There is a pan in the community kitchen but it is not a nonstick pan. Can I still use that in place of the nonstick pan the recipe calls for? If not, then there is also a nonstick pot that looks similar to this but a little bigger:
http://www.t-falusa.com/NR/rdonlyres/...

I also don't have a spatula. Will that be an issue?

2d. biscuit recipe:
^ I do not have a cheese grater or a rolling pin. Alternatives?

(or I can see if I can borrow all of these missing items from the front office...

)

Also, I'm nervous about making biscuits because I have never used a rolling pin before or made anything complex like this before.

2e. country ham:
^ This last question is about the country ham because I don't know how to "do" it or "make" it. What I ate looks like this:
http://www.roadfood.com/photos/10071.jpg

Do I just go to a butcher and ask for 'country ham'? If so, how do I cook it? I couldn't find a recipe that's good but not too difficult.

What do you think? Thank you!

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  1. Ham from the deli or supermarket and Country ham (if it's the real deal) are two different food experiences entirely.
    http://www.bonappetit.com/columns/the...
    http://www.countryhams.com/cookinginf...
    You may want to post to your local board about sources for Country Ham.

    A good wooden spoon and some fast stirring will make a fine roux for your sausage gravy; a whisk is just "nice to have" in this case.

    As to biscuits, you can either cut in the butter with two knives, used scissor-fashion, or mix it in with your fingers. Frozen butter grated is marvelous, but you can get decent biscuits without that. You could either gently pat the dough out vs. rolling it, or find a good drop biscuit recipe and skip both patting or rolling.

    Yes, you could make scrambled eggs in the N-S pot you have, and again, a wooden spoon will be useful here.

    With the constraints you're under, you won't get visual or gourmet perfection, nor should you worry if you don't. This is rustic, country food made for well over a hundred years by folks without electricity, French wire whisks, non-stick skillets, or the internet.

    Making Biscuits is like the game of Chess: simple to learn, you master it with time. Biscuits and gravy rock! Don't be daunted, and just keep making biscuits, with or without sausage and gravy.

    PS: There's a Sausage & Gravy recipe right here on Chow. No grater required.
    http://www.chow.com/recipes/30499-but...

    2 Replies
    1. re: mcsheridan

      Thank you for the country ham link! I see recipes there that seem simple to follow.

      The biscuit recipe looks good too however can I use that recipe but add lard and bacon drippings to it? That’s one thing I liked about the recipe I linked.

      1. re: bloodboy

        Probably, but for your first effort, I'd just find one recipe and get that right first. Then you can start making modifications.

    2. A wine bottle or similar can stand in for a rolling pin. Alternately, you can make drop biscuits instead of rolling out and cutting the dough. Just drop big spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet once the dough comes together.

      1. bloodboy - this was a staple when I was growing up, although a little bit different. My dad taught me how to make it when I was a kid. Here's a simple version - I'd suggest starting simply the first time and then ramp up.

        Brown breakfast sausage in the not a non-stick pan and set sausage aside.

        Using the liberated fat/drippings, stir in flour and make a blonde roux, about four or five minutes.

        Whisk in cold milk just a little at a time, stirring out the lumps (a fork will do in a pinch). Keep adding milk and stirring each time, waiting a few minutes between additions. Stop when you get a good gravy consistency. Coarse black pepper and salt (I use ham BT Bouillon ham base instead of salt). Don't add the sausage to the gravy.

        Fry eggs over easy rather than scramble. The runny yolks are even better.

        Buy pre-made frozen biscuits and pop them in the oven. Mary B's or Pillsbury Homestyle.

        Crumble the biscuits, crumble the sausage on top, place the eggs on top of that, use a knife and fork to cut the eggs in, and top with the gravy. It was an every other Saturday thing growing up.

        1 Reply
        1. re: rudeboy

          The eggs I had with this dish were scrambled but my mouth started to water after you mentioned runny yolks. That sounds like it will be wonderful cooked over easy!

        2. I use Bisquik and make drop biscuits. Takes all of 2 minutes to make and 5 to bake. (More or less)
          Makes biscuits and gravy a 15 minute breakfast.

          1. Where do you live? Country ham is a southeastern US speciality, and I would think it will be hard to find elsewhere. There are mail order sources. It's very salty, and has a strong ham flavor.

            Never crumble your biscuits into the gravy. The gravy goes on top of a split biscuit.

            4 Replies
            1. re: carolinadawg

              I think most producers will ship a ham, Clifty Farm is a common brand in middle Tennessee and Rice's in Hendersonville makes a really good one but more expensive.

              1. re: carolinadawg

                My online standby for Southern country meats is Broadbent. They have prize-winning hams they sell whole or in various kinds of slices, as well as country smoked bulk sausage and some of the best dry-cured bacon I've tasted. Lower prices than most such suppliers as well.

                http://www.broadbenthams.com

                1. re: carolinadawg

                  Most supermarkets in Indiana sell vacuum-sealed slices of country ham (usually in the fresh meat section, not the deli). The popularity of country ham has grown over the years, and it's popping up outside of the south.

                2. Southern girl here and glad to see you've discovered our "national dish". :)

                  First the ham. In the South you can find a ham in every grocery store. When we lived in NH for awhile, no ham. In a pinch you can get the butcher to cut you ham steaks and season with liquid smoke, salt, and garlic. An easier option is to look at the deli counter. You usually see some kind of smoked ham. Ask them to slice the ham into thick slices.

                  Next the gravy, yeah you can make it from scratch. Use regular or spicy sausage; maple sausage gives a sweetish taste that some don't enjoy. My dad made the gravy at our house. Fry up the sausage. To the hot grease add about 2 spoonfuls of flour. He always stirred the flour with a metal egg turner/spatula til it thickened, then he dumped in a bowlful of milk - about 2 cups. Just keep stirring til it thickens, scraping the spatula across the bottom of the pan. If it won't thicken, mix a little flour into cold water and add to the gravy. Too thick? Just add a little water. But I cheat! Southern Mills makes several great biscuit gravies - white, peppered, or sausage.

                  Last the biscuits. Flour counts. I make sure to use a good quality self-rising flour. To two cups flour add two tablespoons butter. I just soften it and mash in with a spoon. Slowly add buttermilk to form a thick dough. Don't mix too much, just enough to wet the flour. You can drop the biscuits by the spoonful on a pan. You can use a glass to roll out dough - be sure to flour your counter well - an the same glass to cut out biscuits. Bake in a 450 over for about 15 minutes.

                  Where are you? I'm sure some chowhound will be willing to give you lessons. It takes some practice, but you'll get the hang of it. Makes a great dinner too! And you really need a cast iron skillet. I find mine at junk stores and yard sales really cheap.

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: hippioflov

                    Thank you for the different recipes. At least, I know that I have options if I mess up the biscuit recipe I choose.

                    1. re: hippioflov

                      Quick question before I post a longer post tonight. I just got back from running around almost all day and I am almost done. I was able to get some some rendered suet but I have question about it. Do I still need lard and duck fat if I already have suet? I looked on Google but I saw mixed responses. Some wrote that rendered suet is lard while others wrote that they are different animals. The butcher said that I don't need lard if I suet. Are they pretty much the same OR do they have different purposes depending on how I use them? I wouldn't want to use suet for my biscuits when the recipe calls for lard or duck fat.

                      I ask because if they are not the same then I need to make one last trip out to Whole Foods to get some duck fat and lard. Thank you.

                      1. re: bloodboy

                        I'd give it a go and see how it tastes. I think fat is pretty much fat.

                    2. For a delicious variation, try country gravy over white rice.

                      4 Replies
                      1. re: Antilope

                        Country gravy on just about anything that'll hold still for it! Bread, potatoes of any sort, macaroni – my mom did a sinfully good supper dish that was just sausage gravy and macaroni. You can even use it like creamed chipped beef over toast – add some chopped hardboiled egg for even more fun.

                        1. re: Will Owen

                          And if it won't hold still, whack it with a big, wooden spoon! :)
                          Pour that sausage gravy!

                          1. re: mcsheridan

                            Oh dear.
                            The first thing that came to mind was Wild Cherry.
                            Pour that sausage gravy, white boy....

                            .
                            [now where's Biscuitboy...?]

                          2. re: Will Owen

                            Country gravy on anything... yup.

                            The cafe I cook for just added a breakfast poutine to the menu... fries, topped by cheese curds, topped by country gravy. Yum.

                        2. Simple stuff to,make.....buy frozen biscuits in freezer section. Use Pam in ur scrambled egg pan. They may stick a bit more, but that will be OK. Any gravy is a proportion thing or ratio. So much fat to so much liquid, plus flour. Example...for 1 cup.of gravy....need 2 T of fat (preferably drippings from ur ham, meat, bacon or chicken) add 2 T of flour to fat over a low heat...it will be like paste, and then slowly add ur liquid. For biscuits I would use whole milk. Add a little bit to flour...stir, and in more and more and just keep stirring to keep lumps out. Might need to add bit more milk for consistency u want. Country ham..yummy. Very salty. Have to rinse it off and pat dry prior to use. I buy it at Wal Mart. Depends where u live ? Looks a lot like lunch eat. Flat package in refrigerated section. Ask clerk. Just grill it up in pan. Add a little sugar to pan. U want it to get a little blackened. Read other recipes. From ur ham juice u can make red eye gravy. I have not made this. And I have read some people even soak ham longer to get salt off. I good luck. There is a learning curve to everything..... But this is not hard. Good luck !

                          1. I grew up on this kind of food. It's not fancy, and you make do with what you have. My mother and grandmother both make gravy with a fork, nothing else. Of course you can make eggs in a regular pan. That's what people did before non-stick pans :-) Whatever ham you have will be good. Some are better than others, but it's all good. Enjoy!

                              1. re: Kris in Beijing

                                Hmmm. If so the OP may only find Spam instead of the kind of country ham everyone is advising...

                              2. Country ham is very salty, you can use it to season collard or turnip greens, green beans, Mac n cheese, etc.
                                If you fry it for a breakfast meat you simmer it to get some of the salt out first then use the liquid to make the gravy. If you use coffee then it's called red eye gravy. Not my favorite to tell you the truth, I like sage sausage gravy on biscuits.

                                1 Reply
                                1. re: On_yun

                                  I could live on country ham and redeye gravy--maybe it's an acquired taste.

                                  And for the OP, as others have written, country ham isn't readily available in most parts of the U.S. What's sold just as "ham" is what we in Kentucky called "city ham" or sugar cured. Country ham is salt cured and has a certain funk (which I love, but YMMV). Meat shops in my current area (southern CA) haven't even heard of country ham--I order it from Kentucky.

                                  Glad you've discovered this incredible combo of biscuits, gravy and country ham.

                                2. I don't know where you live... but refrigerated or frozen biscuits are a great shortcut. Biscuits are pretty easy to make, but it sounds like your kitchen supplies and experience are extremely limited and you might have more success baking up some store-bought biscuits than doing it all from scratch. Then you can concentrate on making the gravy, which isn't difficult - fry up breakfast sausage in a pan, then set it aside and make your gravy with the sausage fat and milk. I'm a heathen, I never do a 'roux' with flour - I use a cornstarch slurry for everything because it doesn't need to cook so long.

                                  1. If you have a Trader Joe's near you, they have a decent biscuit in a can. That recipe you posted sounds good, though w/ the bacon. On the eggs, if you don't have your heart set on scrambles, I will just crack the eggs into the sausage and gravy and then put it in the oven to keep warm. That cooks the eggs so the yolks are runny. Scrambled eggs are quick and easy enough but I love the runny yolk over everything.

                                    1. I am in Madison, Wisconsin currently until the end of the summer term. I started the thread about what is available in my area:
                                      http://chowhound.chow.com/topics/982798

                                      1. Once you get the regular white gravy down pat, you can branch into other Southern staples, such as Red Eye Gravy, or Tomato Gravy.

                                        Southern tomato gravy: http://allrecipes.com/recipe/mamas-to...

                                        Red eye gravy: http://homecooking.about.com/od/condi...

                                        1. Try bacon gravy over biscuits. Made just like sausage gravy, but substitute crumbled cooked bacon and bacon drippings.

                                          1. Update:

                                            Nevermind the last question about suet, tallow, and lard. I ended up buying 'rendered suet' which is tallow and then also lard and duck fat.

                                            I tried out all the recipes that I listed above and here are the results:

                                            1. breakfast sausage:
                                            ^ This did not really taste like store bought sausage. It just tasted like pork with spices as far as texture goes. The taste was not good but it was not horrible either. I still would it was bad but not really bad. It was definitely edible.

                                            2. sausage gravy
                                            Initially, I put too much salt and the gravy was too thick but this morning when I reheated what I cooked last night, I put more milk and some water as well and it didn't taste bad at all.

                                            3. biscuits
                                            Oh boy! These were a mess. Where do I start. It was so messy and hard to grate the butter and lard before it melted. (I bought a grater) The butter wasn't that bad but the lard was a total pain in the butt. It just went everywhere. Then I made the dough in a plastic rectangular storage container. I don't think that was a good idea because I had a hard time mixing the mixture.

                                            And speaking of mixing the ingredients. The recipe said that the secret of good biscuits is not handling the dough much. With that in mind I was sooo scared to mix the dough a lot. I thought I would ruin my first batch. So, I did not mix the mixture fully. The recipe said only to use the tips of my fingers but I would have had to use all of my fingers to really mix the ingredients well. Then when I thought it was mixed I put the dough onto seran wrap that was covered in flour. Since I am using a community kitchen, I decided to cover the counter with saran wrap, cover it in flour, and work the dough on that. The dough was so hard to pat and fold and it was really hard to roll flat with the rolling pin. I ended up putting a lot more flour all over the place so the dough would not keep coming apart. And then finally I just had to resort to making patties in my hand. Even then the dough still kept coming apart. It was so frustrating.

                                            In the end, the biscuits came out like cookies. They did not rise much at all, if any. But again, I did not think they tasted bad but definitely they didn't taste great. Edible for sure so I guess it was ok for a first try.

                                            I am going to try it again tonight but there are some things I am wondering about:

                                            1. I am not sure if working the dough on a saran wrap covered counter was significant or not.
                                            2. I think I will mix the dry ingredients in a box next time instead of a rectangular plastic container.
                                            3. I think I will be sure that everything is well mixed before I start to make the dough even if it means working the dough far much more that I desire.
                                            4. I am not sure if I am supposed to be using so much extra flour when I am working the flour.

                                            I think I need a good video showing how to properly make biscuits. I'm heading over to youtube now.

                                            4 Replies
                                            1. re: bloodboy

                                              Sounds like your dough was too dry. After a brief mixing the bowl, my dough has picked up nearly all the flour. With a bit of patting and reshaping it comes together as a ball that I can easily flatten into a disk. It the dough is wetter, you can make 'drop biscuits'.

                                              Before you give up on biscuits, you might try a couple of short cuts.

                                              - refrigerator biscuit dough - these are easy to use, can be quite flaky (more so than my home made ones). Plus they will give you an idea of what biscuit dough should feel like.

                                              - BC biscuit mix
                                              http://www.bettycrocker.com/products/...
                                              I've used this mix when camping, because I don't have fiddle with lots of ingredients, and cleanup is easier. They rise as well as anything I make from scratch.

                                              - try cream drop biscuits.
                                              http://www.heatherlikesfood.com/cream...
                                              cream serves as both fat and liquid. No need to grate butter or work shortening in with your finger tips. And 'dropping' them means you don't need a floured surface to roll the dough. You just need a bowl to mix them in.

                                              Proportions in this recipe are about right. I wouldn't use the sugar. And start with a scant cup of the cream, and add more as needed.

                                              1. re: bloodboy

                                                Once again, Bisquick for the biscuits. They have been helping people for 60 to 80 years. We're not building a rocket, we're trying to make biscuits and gravy in time to eat breakfast.

                                                1. re: bloodboy

                                                  A thought about grating the fat - I've only done it with a frozen stick of butter. This works fine for the 1st half of the stick. After that it is hard to grasp the stick in its wrapper.

                                                  Grating is a convenient way of 'dicing' the butter. But the usual way of dispersing the fat is to 'cut' it into the flour with a pastry blender, or rub it in with your fingers.

                                                  http://www.goodhousekeeping.com/produ...

                                                  Or in the modern mechanized suburban kitchen, use the food processor to the cut in the fat.

                                                  1. re: bloodboy

                                                    Woo Hoo!! The biscuits finally came out well! I think I definitely kind of have it down now! Check out the pic that I snapped of my biscuits. I just had to take a picture of them!

                                                    They came out soft on the inside and crispy on the outside. I am so glad that I just kept at it three days in a row. There are some improvements that can be made but I am still more than satisfied with these.

                                                    I figured out that the dough has to be wet after I watched the video that Antilope posted (Shirley Corriher) and the comment by PaulJ (thanks to you both btw!) The story about Shirley's dry biscuits and her nana giving her a hug and reminding her to include a 'Touch of Grace' stuck with me since it was so beautiful especially with her lovely southern accent. So, I made sure that my dough was wet as well and it worked out much better. I think I will wear gloves though from now on because I could be wrong but I feel that my bare hands actually heats up the dough a bit faster than gloves would. I think that is why the wet dough was constantly sticking to my hands.

                                                    I have to find a way to get them to form better when I put them on the baking pan. Since I do not roll them and only shape them by hand the dough, the result is not aesthetically pleasing but tastes good.
                                                    question #1:
                                                    1. I was even wondering if something exists that I could put on the baking pan and scoop the dough into so it will be in the shape of a biscuit.

                                                    I realized that the first two times I made the biscuits, that I was just being far too cautious since everything I read stated that I should handle the dough as little as possible. I over-analyzed that but after watching the pros in the video make biscuits, I realized that I probably wouldn't work the dough too much if I just copied them somewhat.

                                                    I also continued to add buttermilk whenever the dough was too dry. That was important for me to remember.

                                                    I also realized why grating the butter and lard is preferable to just adding it. When the lard and butter is grated it turned into little tiny balls of fat. I 'cut' (mix) the fat into the dough by hand. I do this very quickly but all I am doing is ensuring that they fat is mixed throughout the ingredients evenly WITHOUT the fat melting which is why speed is important. I only realized this on this recent third batch.

                                                    Besides that, all is good and I am very happy with the result. I still have not received a return phone call from the butcher about my country ham special request but that's fine. I can wait, especially since I finally know how to make the biscuits well!

                                                     
                                                  2. The very best biscuits I have ever tasted, and made, are Shirley Corriher's "Touch-of-Grace Biscuits". It's a drop biscuit, but you drop it into dry flour, dust if off, and bake it in a cake pan. It's a really wet dough, this makes it tender inside and outside. These are a light, fluffy, cake-like biscuit, perfect for sopping up gravy. These are not flaky biscuits.
                                                    .
                                                    Shirley Corriher often appeared on Alton Brown's "Good Eats" show as the food scientist. She's in her 80's now.
                                                    .
                                                    Touch of Grace Biscuits recipe in the NY Times
                                                    http://www.nytimes.com/2008/06/18/din...
                                                    .
                                                    Shirley Corriher Making her Biscuits on YouTube.
                                                    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7baqg...
                                                    .

                                                     
                                                     
                                                    1 Reply
                                                    1. re: Antilope

                                                      An ingredient short cut for the "Touch of Grace" biscuit recipe is to use Bisquick for the batter and drop the biscuits into dry plain all purpose flour. The Bisquick is made from a soft southern, low gluten, wheat. So it makes tender, light biscuits. It's best to drop the biscuits into a plain dry flour so they won't taste like baking powder.