Biscuits and Gravy
Biscuits and Gravy

Anyone who has been following my blog now for awhile, understands that one of the vows I made before I take my upcoming trip to the Arctic, was that I would create my own Biscuits and Gravy Recipe.

It is easy to sit down, with fresh ingredients, fry up some sausage, add some flour, milk and spice to taste.  I found out it is another thing to try and make it into a dry, moisture-free, light weight, and simple to make packaged meal.

There was a lot of hurdles along the way that I had to get over along the way, taking the time to research or think up a solution, test it out, apply it, try again, and hope for a positive outcome.

As previously mentioned in my article “Do It Yourself: Adventure Food – Poor Man’s Chicken and Dumplings“, I had originally intended that meal to try an analog for making my biscuits.

After a successful experiment using Jiffy Buttermilk Biscuit Mix to drop into the soup directly as dumplings, and make a meal with flaky biscuits in about 15 minutes, I later tested a couple weeks later the application in the field.  Trying out a second idea I had for mixing the biscuit dough while on the move. A simple solution of a plastic bag, and some water, and “Massaging” the dough until ready to drop spoonfuls of it into the simmering soup.

These tests proved to be very successful, and were even reinforced by a buddy of mine who was camping with me that evening.

So back at home, I began my search for the items I would need.

Most of the items can be procured from your local supermarket.  Flour, pepper, salt, some lowry’s seasoning salt for added flavor, and of course, the 55 cent box of Jiffy Buttermilk Biscuit Mix.

Online I was able to source a #2.5 can of “Real Pork Sausage Crumbles” from a local Northwest Company located in Vancouver, Wa by the name of Healthy Harvest.

The last and Final ingredient that I needed was instant Whole Milk.

Apparently, this is something that has over the years, become rather difficult to find in the States. In fact, even though I remember it from when I was younger, and my mom reinforces that memory with the actual names of different instant whole milk products, it is something you cannot find easily at your local markets.

I tried. I went to Safeway, Top, Albertsons, Whole Foods, multiple specialty stores throughout the area, and called about a dozen more.

The truth is, it is just no longer accepted in our society apparently.

So after jumping online, and really cringing at the fact that most places wanted 10 dollars for a can of it, and another 10 dollars shipping, I decided to test my luck with Non-Fat Instant Milk from the grocery store.

I decided while I was working on this recipe, that it was a good time to finally find out how many Table Spoons of powder was in a Box of Jiffy Buttermilk Biscuit Mix.  After checking, double checking, and triple checking, I came out with roughly 26 Table Spoons.

Now, I had everything I needed to get started, so I started off with my first try at Biscuits and Gravy.
Biscuits and Gravy Experiment #1 Ingredient List

Gravy

  • 8 TBSP Instant Non-Fat Milk (Mix n’ Drink by Saco)
  • 5 TBSP Ground Pork Sausage (Freeze Dried)
  • 2 TBSP Flour
  • 1/2 TSP Lowry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 TSP Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 16 oz Water (2 Cups)

Biscuits

  • 13 TBSP Jiffy Buttermilk Biscuit Mix
  • 2 oz Water (1/4 Cup)
The picture is a bit dark (and blurry), but you can still make out the grainy consistency of the gravy. Not good
The picture is a bit dark (and blurry), but you can still make out the grainy consistency of the gravy. Not good

So with my first Gravy Recipe under way, I mixed the dry ingredients, added the water, brought to a boil and…. The mixture separated.

It turned grainy, lumpy, everything you don’t want gravy to be.  I whisked at it, and it just would reseparate.  I decided to call the test a bust.

I understood why it most likely separated, due to the lake of fat content in the milk to suspend the flour, but I wanted to move on.  There are other ways to skin a cat.

So I cleaned the pot out and started measuring all of my ingredients again to try at another experiment.

Although I ended up waiting the sausage (the most expensive part of the meal at this point), I was still OK with the failure. I realized their would be failures in my tests as I start building my menu of easy fix meals to quickly make on the road or trail. The biggest disappointment was knowing that I knew it was going to happen, but tried with the non-fat milk anyways. Mainly to see what I could do with it, should someone else decide they wanted to not go through the hassle of finding Whole Milk.

So with that, I pushed on through to another experiment.

Biscuits and Gravy Experiment #2 Ingredient List (revisions in red)

  • 8 TBSP Instant Non-Fat Milk (Mix n’ Drink by Saco)
  • 5 TBSP Ground Pork Sausage (Freeze Dried)
  • 5 TBSP Flour
  • 1/2 TSP Lowry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 TSP Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 14 oz Water (1 3/4 Cups)
This is what 13 TBSP of Jiffy will yield you with 2 oz of Water
This is what 13 TBSP of Jiffy will yield you with 2 oz of Water

As you can see outlined above, the 2 changes I made was the addition of more flour, and less water.

The idea behind this was to provide a thicker substance, where a flour roux  would suspend the milk.

Also Note, I did not include the biscuit recipe in this list, as I didn’t use the biscuit dough in test 1 due to gravy itself not working out right away.

So back in the pot everything went and slowly brought to a boil. So far so good, unlike the last time, the gravy did not separate as soon as brought to a boil.

I slowly whisked the substance turned down the heat, and added my biscuit dough to the mixture, and covered the pot with the lid. It seemed as if this was going to work!

I waited 5 minutes first to check on the gravy. I know that it takes about 10 minutes, but I wanted to keep an eye on the mixture.

I removed the lid, and the first thing I noticed was that the gravy had separated.

But instead of a thick, grainy looking separate, it was more fine, and still held it’s thickened qualities.

I decided, since the gravy was still thick, to allow the biscuits to continue on their journey.

At about 10 minutes (maybe a little more) I removed the biscuits from gravy.

I grabbed my whisk, like I did the first try, and started to whisk the gravy, and to my surprise, it did start to smooth back out.

Experiment #2 started out promising - Biscuits Added to Gravy
Experiment #2 started out promising – Biscuits Added to Gravy

Surprised that I was able to save what I was going to chalk up to another complete failure, I split a couple of the biscuits, added some gravy to the top, and tried out for the first time, the labors of my research.

First impressions where it wasn’t bad.

Definitely edible and filling. But definitely not what I am used to making fresh.  I realized that the main culprit was the sausage. Even though it is 100% Real Ground Pork Sausage (Well the can says so) it does remind me of TVP in taste. Very bland, no spice to it.  But it is a source of protein and I am more than able to eat through that.

I took some additional notes, especially on the spices. I realized that it would need a bit more pepper and lowry’s for my tastes, and that it was now time that I bite the bullet, and order some Instant Whole Milk.

Not only did I need to verify what I felt was true (whole milk would solve the separation issue), I also believed that whole milk would help give it just a bit more of a creamier taste. Something that seemed to be missing from the partially successful second attempt.  It seemed to start bordering more towards a floury taste.

The other problem had with it, was it was too thick. I knew it was going to be, which is why I cut the water, and added more flour. It had to be, in order to suspend the gravy properly.

I will say 1 thing about this recipe. It is overall, lower fat. Which if you are really concerned about that, then it very well may be what works for you.

Secondly, it did hold after I whisked it the second time.  I had left overs, which I had for breakfast the next morning. Even after cooling it in the fridge, and reheating it in the microwave, the gravy stayed suspended properly.

So the next morning I jumped online, surfed around and found what I was looking for.

Nido, a Instant Whole Milk Powder, manufactured by Nestle is the most common whole milk you can find. There are some companies who sell it in large quantities, but in smaller, manageable quantities, Nido is going to be it.

You can find Nido online with a quick search via Google Shopping. Amazon pops up often as they have several “Partners” that carry it.

I still hesitated ordering it, as I just really could not bring myself to spend 20 bucks for instant milk.  It was roughly 10 dollars for the Nido, and 10 dollars for shipping from everywhere on Amazon.

I eventually went back to searching via Google and eventually came across mexgrocer.com.

Not only did they have the Nido for cheaper at $7.95, they also had the lowest shipment cost I had come across so far at $5.95. Giving a total of $13.10 after a 10% discount using the coupon code mexiten.

I ordered this on a Thursday, it shipped Friday, and I had it at more doorstep on Monday.

So now with instant Whole Milk, I prepared my 3rd Biscuits and Gravy Recipe.

Biscuits and Gravy Experiment #3 Ingredient List (revisions in red)

  • 6 TBSP Instant Whole Milk (Nido by Nestle)
  • 5 TBSP Ground Pork Sausage (Freeze Dried)
  • 3 TBSP Flour
  • 1/2 TSP Lowry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 1/2 TSP Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 16 oz Water (2 Cups)

Biscuits

  • 13 TBSP Jiffy Buttermilk Biscuit Mix
  • 2 oz Water (1/4 Cup)
Nestle Nido - Instant Powdered Whole Milk
Nestle Nido – Instant Powdered Whole Milk

Following the same steps as outlined in the past 2 experiments, I slowly brought the gravy mixture to boil, then turned down to a low heat simmer and added the dough.

And I waited.

3 Minutes: No Separation

5 Minutes: No Separation

Oh look Family Guy! (More Time Passes than I should have allowed, but oh well!)

12 Minutes: No Separation, Biscuits and Gravy is done!

I took out the biscuits, noted the consistency of the gravy, gave it a good slow whisk to mix the sausage crumbles back up, grabbed a spoon, and tasted the gravy.  It was good, it had a creamier taste, less floury taste, but still needed some more flavor from the spice (to my tastes).

So with that, I added another 1/2 TSP of Lowry’s and Black Pepper.  Whisked it in, let it sit a few minutes to make sure it mixed well, and tasted again.

This was more of what I was looking for.

I split a couple biscuits, added some gravy to the top, and enjoyed myself some Biscuits and Gravy.

Again, not “Fresh Made” tasting, but the result is very satisfying. A much better overall texture and taste over the previous attempts.

So with that, my final recipe.

Biscuits and Gravy

  • 6 TBSP Instant Whole Milk (Nido by Nestle)
  • 5 TBSP Ground Pork Sausage (Freeze Dried)
  • 3 TBSP Flour
  • 1 TSP Lowry’s Seasoning Salt
  • 1 TSP Ground Black Pepper
  • 1/4 TSP Salt
  • 16 oz Water (2 Cups)

Biscuits

  • 13 TBSP Jiffy Buttermilk Biscuit Mix
  • 2 oz Water (1/4 Cup)

Nido Makes the Difference - Experiment #3 a Success!

Preparation:

So to start off with, the idea for field preparation is the following.

When prepackaging your meals, place the dry gravy mix ingredients in a snack sized zip-lock style bag, with the biscuit mix in a sandwich sized zip-lock style bag. Place the gravy mix bag in with the gravy bag.  With that said, lets move on to preparation.

To prepare your meal, go ahead and throw your gravy mix in your pot with 16 oz of water and mix. You can do this before getting your stove ready, because you will want the gravy mix to set for at least 5 minutes to allow the sausage to start reconstitute.

In this time, go ahead and take 2 oz of water and add it to the biscuit mix, directly in the bag and massage the water into the powder to make a dough.

You could then use the rest of your time you are waiting to prepare your stove.

After letting your gravy mix to set for at least 5 minutes, and with your stove ready, put the pot on the heat to bring to boil making sure to whisk or stir the contents regularly. You do not want the gravy to burn, so stir the gravy slowly, making sure it does not settle at the bottom of the pot.

Note: I have a small whisk I carry with me for this. Whisks are really handy, and pretty easy to clean as well.  If you don’t have a whisk, a spoon will work.

Once the mixture begins to bubble (boil) turn down the heat to a low setting.

Now, take your biscuit dough and spoon off ping-pong sized balls of dough (it will yield about 4) and drop them into the pot. Cover with lid and let simmer for 10 minutes.

Check the contents of the pot every couple minutes. Sometimes it will want to boil up and you will want to remove the pot for a few moments from the stove. It really depends on how well you can regulate the heat with your stove.

When the biscuits look done (this takes practice to notice a done biscuit vs. a not done biscuit, but 10 minutes has seemed to work on all of my experiments so far), remove pot from stove, serve, and enjoy either straight from the pot, or split open with gravy on top on a plate or bowl.

Biscuits Fresh from the pot!
Biscuits Fresh from the pot!

Final Thoughts:

Everyone has different tastes, so take some time to experiment with what you use to spice it up.

Preparation of this meal is about a 6.

There is a lot of measuring before hand, as well as keeping an eye on it while preparing it.  Take some time to test your equipment making this recipe.  Burning gravy never smells well, nor would you want to be stuck in the field having to clean a pot with burnt residue stuck to the bottom.

Overall costs of this meal, even with having to source the Nido and Sausage Crumbles out as I did, will roughly be around $1.50 to $2.00.  If you use Non-Fat Milk, the cost would be near or below $1.  It will yield enough for 1 large hearty meal, which is great if you are going to be extremely active. It provides a good source of carbs as well as protein, or in my instance, I was fine with eating half of it for dinner, and saving the other half for breakfast.  If you are on the road, this would work fine for 2 people to have breakfast and get them to lunch.

I hope you enjoy this recipe, and that you find it useful in your adventures.
You can download a recipe card here: Biscuits and Gravy .doc Format

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2 Comments

  1. April 27, 2010 at 9:39 AM — Reply

    You should also look into Wondra flour for thickening your liquids. It works much like roux, but is a low protein flour that has gone through pregelatinization. What that means is you can add it to cold liquid, ie your fat free instant milk mix gravy, then as it heats and cooks it will thicken up. I use it all the time when cooking turkey or beef gravy, some soups, etc. Pretty unique stuff you can buy cheap at the local megamart.

  2. May 18, 2010 at 7:56 PM — Reply

    Dave, thanks for the Advice on the Wondra Flour.

    I actually bought some and used it to make hamburger gravy. It works great, and takes much less vs. regular flour. I was happy with the results and will most likely update my recipes a bit using it.


    DaveT:

    You should also look into Wondra flour for thickening your liquids. It works much like roux, but is a low protein flour that has gone through pregelatinization. What that means is you can add it to cold liquid, ie your fat free instant milk mix gravy, then as it heats and cooks it will thicken up. I use it all the time when cooking turkey or beef gravy, some soups, etc. Pretty unique stuff you can buy cheap at the local megamart.

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