Sausage gravy has many aliases: sawmill gravy, white gravy, breakfast gravy, southern gravy – but whatever you call it, it’s delicious. This gravy is made with a roux, as most gravy is, but rather than using stock or water, milk is added, giving it that signature white colour and creamy texture.
Though this is a staple in American southern cooking, for people outside of America or even those from northern states, the idea of eating gravy for breakfast is a little strange, but as it’s made from pork fat (or butter), it has a completely different flavour profile than chicken or beef gravy. The milk gives it an extra heartiness that makes it a great way to start your day.
This is a 2 person recipe, made for the purpose of pouring over fresh, split biscuits, but it can easily be doubled to feed a family or a crowd. If no sausage or lard is available, butter (not margarine) can be substituted though the final product may require more salt (according to your tastes).
To start, brown your sausage in a pan. Pork, unlike ground beef, can be quite sticky when ground, so go ahead and let it sit in the pan for a couple of minutes, cooking the bottom, before breaking it up, and less will stick to your spoon. Once you no longer see any pink, leave it in the pan an extra couple of minutes to allow the meat to gain that extra caramelisation on the outside. This makes the meat extra tasty and will give more flavour to the gravy.
Fun fact: meats gaining a brown crust is not actually due to the caramelisation of sugar, but of a chemical reaction with the amino acids found in the protein called the Maillard reaction. Caramelisation is just easier to say though.
Once your meat is done, carefully transfer it to a bowl or container leaving the rendered fat in the pan. To this you’ll add the extra lard (or butter), allowing it to melt. Reduce the heat to med-low and sprinkle the flour over the pan, quickly mixing these together. The flour will start to dissolve into the butter and once it stabilises, you can add your milk a little at a time mixing it into the roux. As this is just a small batch, I have just used my flat edged spoon from when I browned the sausage, but if you double this recipe, I suggest using the whisk due to the large volume of liquid.
Once all the milk has been added, stir the pan until desired thickness has been reached. I can generally tell it is done to my tastes when I scrape the bottom of the pan, and it leaves a clean trail behind it before slowly coming back together.
To this, add a pinch of salt and about half a teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Taste it at this point to see if you need any more of either the salt or pepper, and add a little bit more at a time until it tastes right to you. You can always add more if its not enough, but you can never take it away.
If your gravy is too thick, add a little bit more milk to hydrate it and get it to your preferred consistency. This can also happen if you leave it on the heat too long after it is done, which evaporates the liquid. Just work in the milk a splash at a time, until its back to where you want it.
Reintroduce your ground sausage and mix it in. If there is too much sausage for the amount of gravy you have, keep the extra in an airtight container in the fridge to add to omelettes or pizza.
Serve hot right away over fluffy biscuits (homemade or store-bought) and keep any leftover in the fridge for up to a week.
Simple Sausage Gravy
Easy sausage gravy recipe for biscuits and gravy.
- 4 oz (115g) ground sausage
- 1 Tbsp lard or salted butter
- 2 Tbsp plain flour
- 1 1/4 cup milk (semi-skim or whole)
- 1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper
- Pinch salt
- Additional salt and pepper to taste
Up to 1/2 cup of milk can be added if gravy becomes too thick
- Brown sausage in a large pan, allowing the meat to caramelise. Remove meat to separate container, leaving rendered fat in the pan.
- Lower heat to med-low and add additional lard or butter to pan. Once melted, sprinkle in flour and mix together until they form a loose paste.
- Slowly incorporate milk, whisking together to form the gravy. Allow it to cook for a couple of minutes until desired thickness achieved. More milk can be added if a thinner consistency is desired.
- Add salt and pepper, tasting to determine if any additional seasoning is necessary.
- Reintroduce sausage meat to gravy and serve hot.