Biscuits and gravy are not a thing here in the UK. Not even a little bit. I only decided to give them a try myself because I’d seen them so many times on television over the years. Of course, my British mind thought that dipping digestives in gravy was the strangest thing to do (incidentally, I’m adverse to dipping biscuits in anything, especially tea, which I personally think is disgusting). It was only when I did some research that I got a sense of what this dish was all about.
According to the Washington Post, biscuits and gravy had its humble start around the time of the Revolutionary War, but many culinary historians believe its birthplace to be Southern Appalachia in the late 1800s. Now widespread across the US, it was originally a dish for the poor working class of the south, made with whatever few ingredients were available from season to season.
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Unlike the biscuits we are used to, these are closer to our scones. They are thick cuts of light, leavened dough made, in the non-vegan world at least, with buttermilk. They are then baked and risen in the oven to create a beautiful light and fluffy base for the gravy. The gravy again is not as we would typically understand it. Though there are many variations, the gravy in question is most commonly a cream sauce made with sausage and other flavourings, that is poured generously over the freshly-cooked biscuits.
Having made them a few times now, they have become a welcome inclusion into my repertoire of home-cooked meals. Chiefly because they are easy to make, they are great for using up store cupboard ingredients, and they allow for great versatility (instead of vegan sausages, you can chop up some vegan burgers or mince when making your gravy. Or simply stick with vegetables). The dough can also be made in advance and refrigerated, so that you can bake them as and when you desire (the biscuits are always better when served freshly baked, however).
So, although the concept might seem strange to us Brits, you should really give this recipe a go if you want to try something completely different.
Vegan Biscuits and Gravy
For the Biscuits:
- 400 g plain flour
- 4 tsp baking powder
- ½ tsp bicarbonate of soda
- ½ tsp salt
- 100 g vegan butter cut into cubes
- 2 tsp southern fried seasoning powder
- 175 ml vegan milk
- 2 tbsp cider vinegar
For the Gravy:
- 2 tbsp cooking oil
- 8 vegan sausages sliced thinly
- 1 onion diced
- 6 chestnut mushrooms roughly chopped
- 2 tsp southern fried seasoning powder
- ¼ tsp ground nutmeg
- 1 tsp garlic granules
- 1 vegetable stock cube
- 2 tbsp plain flour
- 50 g vegan butter
- 400 ml vegan milk
- 1 tbsp vegan Worcester sauce
- 1 tbsp liquid smoke
- First you want to make the biscuits. To do this put the flour, baking powder, bicarbonate of soda, salt and butter into a large mixing bowl and rub gently between your fingers. Do this until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs, which usually takes about 5 minutes. Now rub in the southern fried seasoning, until it is fully incorporated. Using a table knife, mix in the milk and cider vinegar, then knead with your hands, for just a minute or so, until you have a smooth dough. Cover and chill for 30 minutes.
- Once the dough had chilled and firmed up, remove it from the fridge and roll out on a lightly floured surface to about 2cm thick. Using a cookie cutter about 7cm in diameter, cut circles from your rolled out dough and set them on a baking tray lined with greaseproof paper. Bring the dough together and roll out again to use it all up. You should get 8 biscuits out of the dough.
- Preheat the oven to gas 6/200C/400F.
- About 5 or 6 minutes before you start baking the biscuits, you can get going with the gravy.
- Heat the oil in a medium-sized saucepan and cook the sliced sausages for 6-8 minutes, until they have browned on both sides.
- At this point you can but your tray of biscuits in the middle of the oven. They will take 15-20 minutes to cook, and be risen and browned on top.
- Go back to your gravy and add the onions and mushrooms to the pan. Cook, stirring often, for another 8 minutes or so, until they are cooked through and slightly browned. Now stir in the southern fried seasoning, the nutmeg, garlic granules, vegetable stock and flour. Cook for another minute or two, stirring constantly.
- Add the butter and mix in, then slowly pour in the milk, a little at a time, again stirring constantly, until you have a smooth sauce. Lastly add the Worcester sauce and liquid smoke. Bring to the boil and gently simmer for 4-5 minutes. Keep warm if you need to while waiting for the biscuits to finish.
- Once the biscuits are risen and golden brown, remove from the oven. Leave for a couple of minutes to cool a little, then cut them through the middle. If you like, spread a little vegan butter on each biscuit. Serve 1-2 biscuits per person and spoon over the gravy.