Tuesday, November 25, 2008

Biscuits and Gravy!

You're probably wondering what's up with Scarlett O'Hara and the Twelve Oaks barbecue, aren't you? Well, I just bet that she's eating a big ol' plateful of biscuits and gravy, which are the subject of today's post. Yes ma'am, even with a corset laced to 16 inches and every inbred swain in the county swarming around brandishing a mint julep, Miss Scarlett has her priorities straight. Besides, we all know that she is going to "catch a husband" (several, in fact) even if she does "eat like a field hand and gobble like a hog," or whatever gustatory indiscretion it is that Mammy accuses her of. So bon appetit and fiddle-dee-dee!

One of the funniest (in both the "peculiar" and the "ha-ha" senses) things about being vegan is the way reinterpretations of foods in which you had no interest as an omnivore become strangely appealing. For instance, I seriously doubt that I would have ever ordered, eaten, or indeed even thought about biscuits and gravy in the days when I "could" have them. But a few weeks ago, we were walking down a street in Brooklyn on a cold, rainy, miserable night, and passed a very busy-looking fried chicken and biscuits place, whereupon I chirped, "Ooooh, I'm going to make biscuits and gravy next weekend!"

Since we've left the antebellum South behind and are now on the subject of Brooklyn, most vegans know that Isa Chandra Moskowitz includes a by-now famous recipe for biscuits with tempeh and white bean sausage gravy in Vegan with a Vengeance, which is the source of my (somewhat adapted, 'tis ever thus) biscuits. I didn't feel like tempeh, and hadn't a single white bean in the house, so for the "sausage" part, I sauteed some onion and mushrooms, into which I crumbled two - YES, SAY IT!Amy's veggie burgers and a few spices; for the gravy, I started with a pretty standard roux, added equal parts vegetable stock and plain soy milk, salt, pepper, some additional thyme and sage, and a last-minute shot of hot sauce. Ladled over biscuits, this was not a particularly photogenic meal (hence the substitution of Miss O'Hara with her pretty little head in the proverbial feedbag), but it was the kind of weekend brunch that will literally send you back to bed with the dog, the cat, and the Sunday NY Times; it worked for us!

The Biscuits:
~ 2/3 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 1 tsp. apple cider vinegar
~ 2 cups all-purpose flour
~ 5 tsp. baking powder
~ 1 tsp. salt
~ 1/2 tsp. each thyme, sage
~ A grind or two of black pepper
~ 1/4 cup chilled Earth Balance or other vegan margarine

~ Preheat the oven to 450 degrees fahrenheit and grease a large baking sheet.
~ In a bowl or beaker, combine the soy milk and apple cider vinegar and set aside to curdle for a few minutes.
~ In a large bowl, sift together the flour, baking powder, salt and seasonings.
~ Add the shortening and mix with your fingers until it resembles coarse crumbs.
~ Whisk the soy milk/vinegar mixture with a fork, and add it to the mixing bowl. Stir well with a wooden spoon until you have a smooth dough.
~ Turn out onto a floured surface and roll or press until the dough is about 1/2" thick.
~ Use the floured rim of a glass to cut the dough into circles, and place on the oiled baking sheet. Bake at 450 degrees for 12-15 minutes.

The "Sausage":
~ 1 tbsp. canola oil
~ 1/2 cup chopped onion
~ 1 cup finely chopped mushrooms
~ 2 veggie burgers, crumbled (I used Amy's California burgers, but any vegan burger or ground meat substititute like Gimme Lean would do)
~ 1 tsp. each: salt, thyme, sage
~ Fresh black pepper

~ In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium heat and saute the onion about 5 minutes.
~ Add the spices and chopped mushrooms; cook another 5 minutes or so.
~ Add the crumbled veggie burgers, raise the heat to high, and cook 5-7 minutes more, stirring often and adding a splash of water if necessary to prevent sticking. Remove from heat and set aside.

The Gravy:
~ 1 tbsp. canola oil
~ 2-3 tbsp. flour
~ 1 cup plain, unsweetened soy milk
~ 2 cups "no chicken" broth
~  1 tsp. each: thyme, sage, dried parsley
~ 1/2 tsp. salt
~ Lots of fresh black pepper
~ Shot of hot sauce, to taste

~ Combine the soy milk and vegetable broth and heat to almost boiling, either on the stove or in the microwave.
~ In a saucepan, warm the oil over medium-low heat and add the flour and the spices, stirring to make a roux.
~ As it begins to thicken, add the broth/soy milk mixture gradually, stirring constantly.
~ Raise the heat to medium and continue cooking 5-10 minutes, until you get the consistency you like (you can always add more liquid if it's too thick, or turn the heat up to reduce it if it's not thick enough).
~ Add the "sausage" mixture and combine thoroughly.
~ Ladle generously over your delicious biscuits for a delicious and filling breakfast. Or lunch. Or whatever. In fact, this was so good that we had the leftovers for dinner the same day!


  1. Great reference! I agree with you completely about wanting to veganize all sorts of things I would not regularly eat, I make sausage, for example, several times a month now.

    I made the biscuits and gravy over the weekend with Isa's recipe. The biscuits were inedible though. Something went horribly wrong and I thought it was probably supposed to be 5 tsp of baking soda rather than 5 tbsp but I noticed that your recipe also calls for Tablespoons. Is that correct? Maybe I just miscounted and added 6? I just can't figure out where I went wrong. They looked great but tasted like chemicals.

    I also made the bread you blogged about during veganmofo and it turned out great! Thanks for the very detailed instructions.

  2. well I am so glad I asked, that solves my biscuit mystery.

  3. Hot diggity damn!
    This all sounds soooo good.

    *grabs a Mint Julep*

  4. Reminds me to get tackling some fried chick'n and waffles, something I never would have dreamed of eating in my "health food" omni days but can't stop thinking about.

  5. Fried chicken and waffles is exactly the kind of stuff I'm talking about! I mean, who would actually eat that stuff BEFORE they went vegan?!

  6. Love it, love it, love it.

    I've seen GWTW more than 70 times (I lost count in 1993).

    That is exactly what Mammy said.

  7. Stella--I bet I've seen it almost as many times as you, plus many rereadings of the novel! You'll notice that I chose to omit the phonetic spelling because...well, BECAUSE!