Boasting numerous methods, preparations, and flavor combinations, gravy could practically be a religion in the South. In this recipe roundup, we highlight three distinct gravy recipes you can try at home tonight.
A little background first: typically, gravy starts with some combination of fat and flour cooked together as a roux, with added flavorings or aromatics, and cooking liquid such as chicken stock or milk. Gravy can be enjoyed with breakfast, lunch, dinner, or even dessert: yes, chocolate gravy is a real thing.
Sausage Sawmill Gravy
Comedian Jim Gaffigan once quipped, “The reason people move slower in the South is because they’re all full of biscuits and gravy.” While that statement may or may not be true, I have not been deterred from enjoying a delicious plate of biscuits and gravy at home. You can use a store-bought breakfast sausage if you prefer; however, making your own is incredibly easy. After making this recipe many times, I’ve experienced more success by removing the sausage from the pan after browning, then building the gravy rather than adding the flour with the sausage still in the pan. Aside from the depth of flavor from the sausage, black pepper should be the gravy's most noticeable flavor note.
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Creamy Tomato Gravy
Rooted in Appalachia, tomato gravy could soon be the next breakout star in Southern cuisine. Using bacon fat or fried chicken drippings gives the acidic gravy just enough richness and umami flavor, making it perfect for serving atop fried chicken, fish or hot biscuits. For a true Appalachian interpretation, substitute yellow cornmeal for the flour. In a happy coincidence you then create a gravy that's also gluten-free.
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Sauteed Chicken Livers with Shallot Gravy
Chicken liver can be a polarizing ingredient, but pairing it with country ham and shallot gravy truly honors the humble and nutrient-rich meal item. Cooking the shallots slowly will enhance their natural sugars, and blending them in the sauce will negate the need for much roux by providing most of the sauce’s body. A touch of vinegar after blending will also brighten up finished gravy, adding a nice touch to the livers' richness. One major piece of advice: use a splatter screen when cooking livers, as they tend to pop in hot oil.
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Chef Jeffrey Gardner is a native of Natchez, Miss., and a graduate of Millsaps College and Johnson & Wales University. He lives in Atlanta and has served as sous chef for popular restaurants South City Kitchen Midtown and Alma Cocina. In 2013 he became executive chef for East Cobb restaurant Common Quarter and was named one of ten “Next Generation of Chefs to Watch” by the Atlanta Business Chronicle. He has appeared on TV shows including Food Network’s Chopped and Cooking Channel’s How to Live to 100, and also filmed a series of healthy cooking videos with retired pro wrestler and fitness guru Diamond Dallas Page. In his spare time, he enjoys traveling the world with his wife Wendy, watching game shows and “spending all his money on Bruce Springsteen concerts.”