Let me be perfectly clear: this is not SOS (Sh*t On a Shingle for those not in the know). I’ve had some try to call it that and I set them straight immediately. They have not made that particular mistake again. SOS is what you get out of desperation when all you have to work with is ground beef, flour, and milk and you have to eat something. I don’t make SOS. And I don’t make anything out of desperation. Ever. So… moving on. When people try to make sausage gravy at home it usually turns out like most restaurant “sausage gravy” offerings: either soupy or gluey and/or bland. That’s why I thought I didn’t like sausage gravy; too many brushes with it in the restaurant world. Why put something akin to school paste on your breakfast?! So when my husband, Ron, told me that he liked sausage gravy- the one time he had it when the person who made it knew how to make it well- I set out to make really good sausage gravy. Something that even I would like to eat on my breakfast. This is not even close to what you will get in your average restaurant. This is sausage gravy as it should be: creamy, a little spicy, and oh so comforting over… well, just about anything. Everyone loves it over biscuits or toast. I like it over potatoes. The girls like it over scrambled eggs. And Ron will eat it out of a bowl with a spoon like it’s soup if I let him. Seriously. He’s done it before. It’s that good.
If I’m putting sausage into something (gravy, pancakes, breakfast bakes, etc) I use spicy breakfast sausage. I’ve found if I use regular sausage the flavor just falls flat. So you can use regular if you want to but it won’t have the punchy flavor that will wow you. Other than that all you need is a few incredibly basic ingredients (one of the wonderful things about this recipe) and a whisk. That’s all there is to it. It’s so simple it’s ridiculous! Here’s what you’ll need:
Start by browning your sausage. I’ve found that, since people are so absurdly afraid of fats these days, the sausage I buy at the store is getting leaner and leaner. This being the case, I always add some olive oil to the pan along with the sausage. Technically you could use whatever oil strikes your fancy. But I always use olive oil for this. I’ve tried it with other oils and the flavor just wasn’t right. So use what you like or what you have. Anyway, brown your sausage. And when I say “brown” I mean brown. You want some really nice caramelization so that your gravy has the depth of flavor that most restaurant sausage gravy lacks.
I’ll let you in on a little secret very quickly… Most restaurants don’t brown the sausage they use in their gravy in the pan they make the gravy in. A lot don’t even cook the sausage at the same time as they make their gravy. The restaurants I made sausage gravy at had me cook up a bunch of sausage patties, chop them, and add them into snow-white reconstituted gravy powder. More restaurants than you know do something like that. And if they use sausage crumbles it’s from a huge batch they were frying up for other things as well- killing several birds with one stone. Which is why most sausage gravy in restaurants is so bland; they contain only small amounts of sausage, and none of the really flavorful bits.
So now that you’ve got a pan full of browned sausage, sprinkle the flour over the whole lot…
Some people insist that you need to remove the sausage and drain it, put the drippings back in the pan, add the flour, and make the roux. I think that’s a waste of time. With this particular dish you don’t need all of those extra steps. I’ve found that adding the flour in with the sausage actually makes mixing the roux easier. When I make the roux without the meat it’s a chore to keep it from clumping when I add the milk. But when I make it with the meat included the roux is more evenly distributed to begin with and incorporating the milk is a breeze!
Speaking of milk, once the roux has cooked for one minute, pour in the milk while whisking fairly vigorously. Don’t whisk so fast you make a mess, but do keep things moving. If you don’t the roux will, in fact, clump up on you and you’ll have extra work on your hands whisking until it’s smoothed out again. You end up with…
Sausage milk soup. But that’s ok! Bring this to a full boil and then turn the heat down to a simmer, all the while stirring ALL around the pan to make sure you don’t have roux clumping up in the outer edges of the pan or sticking too much in the middle. You can keep using the whisk if you want to, but I switch to a spoon as soon as the milk is incorporated because a spoon can get into the outer edges of the pan much better.
Let the gravy simmer, stirring occasionally, for about 5-10 minutes. How long depends on how thick you like your gravy. We like ours on the thick side, so I go the full 10 minutes. Add some pepper and a little salt while it’s simmering. You end up with…
Thick, rich country sausage gravy with so much flavor you may never order it in a restaurant again- it would only be disappointing. Now, if your gravy gets too thick for your liking you can simply add more milk- a little at a time- until it’s the desired consistency. Just be sure to taste it again and readjust the seasoning.
This is how my husband likes his (second best to in a bowl with a spoon, of course):
Very classic, indeed. I put it over toast this time because, being without an oven, I couldn’t make biscuits. So biscuits are best but toast works surprisingly well too!
I, on the other hand, prefer something a little different. Do you go to restaurants for breakfast and order the “skillet” meals? You know; potatoes of some kind on the bottom, then eggs- with or without breakfast meat of some kind- then topped with cheese or gravy, with toast on the side. You can make that at home! Cheaper and tastier!
See?! Looks almost the same as in a restaurant. It’s on a plate instead of in a cheap fake skillet, and the toast isn’t quite as pretty, but that doesn’t matter because the taste is phenomenal! This is my FAVORITE way to eat sausage gravy. Now that you have a fantastic recipe for it in your repertoire it’s time for you to decide your favorite way to eat it too!
Note: This sausage gravy reheats wonderfully! Put desired amount of cold gravy into a microwave safe bowl or a sauce pan. Add a small amount of milk- just enough to be able to stir it somewhat easily, then heat at 45 second intervals in the microwave- stirring after each- until it’s hot or put over medium heat until hot throughout if you’re using the stove top.
1 Lb. Sausage (I always use spicy, but use what you like)
3 T Oil (I always use olive oil but, once again, use what you like)
4 T Flour
4 C Milk
Salt & Pepper to Taste
*Cook the sausage in the oil until it’s nicely browned.
*Sprinkle the flour over the sausage in the pan and stir to combine.
*Cook, stirring, for one minute to cook the flour.
*Whisk in the milk, making sure to get the whisk into the outer edges of the pan to get all of the roux incorporated.
*Bring to a boil, whisking or stirring constantly.
*Season with some pepper and a little salt.
*Reduce the heat and simmer the gravy 5-10 minutes, stirring occasionally to make sure there are no clumps sticking to the bottom of the pan.
*When the gravy has reached the desired thickness, taste it and adjust the seasoning accordingly.
*Remove the gravy from the heat. If you need to reheat the gravy you can put it back over the heat, but if you let it sit over low heat to keep warm it will continue thickening.
*Serve over whatever your heart desires 🙂