Sunday, January 29, 2012

Miracle Mushroom Gravy over 3-2-1 Drop Biscuits

I worked at Mickey D's for a while when I was a teenager. It was my first job apart from working for my dad at the paint store. I was vegetarian as I am now, and I was a manager -- that's right, a teenage manager -- at the world's largest fast-food corporation. I still have the spatula I received upon my graduation from their esteemed and highly-competitive Hamburger University. 

Anyway, any vegetarians or vegans that came through on my shift got the royal treatment for sure: a veggie big mac with tons of toppings and cheese and a bag of fries; at breakfast, I'd make our biscuit and sausage gravy special for them without the sausage added into it. I just wanted them to know that someone out there had their back.

In honor of my time in the service, I made this wonderful gravy that has all the flavor of a sausage gravy with none of the sausage. I use meaty crimini mushrooms and the seasoning you'd normally find in a flavorful breakfast sausage to make this Southern breakfast staple. It's so good you'll be looking for other things to gravy.

(Okay, y'all, all of this has me thinking, and I have to know: What was your first job?)

Miracle Mushroom Gravy

10 oz crimini (a.k.a. baby bella) mushrooms
1 tablespoon canola oil
1/2 cup shallot

1 teaspoon rubbed sage
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes

1/4 teaspoon clove
1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 tablespoon maple syrup
1 tablespoon butter

1 tablespoon all-purpose flour
1 1/2 cups whole milk

Slice mushrooms about 1/4-inch thick.; you will blend them later so no need to be overly precise. In a medium frying pan over hight heat, sauté the mushrooms until browned. Add the shallot to the pan and continue to cook for another minute until the rawness has cooked out of the shallot and it's translucent. 

Add the mushrooms and shallot  to the work bowl of your food processor along with the sage, red pepper flakes, clove, soy sauce, and maple syrup. In the same pan over medium heat, melt the butter and add the flour. Whisk mixture until fragrant (about five minutes.) Whisk in the whole milk and heat mixture until slightly thick. Add milk mixture to the food processor that contains the mushroom mixture. Pulse until mushrooms are finely chopped and well incorporated into the milk, but leave some chunkiness for a nice texture. Return the whole thing to the pan and keep warm until ready to serve. If gets too thick, add some milk or stock to thin it out.

3-2-1 Drop Biscuits
3 tablespoons baking powder
2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup 2% milk (more if mixture looks dry)
Preheat your oven to 425 degrees. Mix dry ingredients in a large bowl. Cut in the shortening using your fingers until pieces are no larger than a pea. Make a well in the center of the flour mixture. Add the milk. Using a rubber spatula, fold the milk into the dry ingredients -- but use as few strokes as possible. The less you stir the dough, the more tender your biscuits will be.
Using a medium ice cream scoop, scoop up a 1/4-cup portion of dough and drop it onto a parchment or silpat-lined baking sheet. Repeat until all dough has been used. (You should get about a dozen biscuits from this recipe.) Be sure to leave an inch or so between each biscuit, but don't be too particular about their shape -- drop biscuits are supposed to be rustic. Bake for 15 minutes or until the craggy edges are brown and crispy.

To serve, just split a biscuit and douse it with gravy. Garnish with a pinch of smoked paprika. It's perfect along with soft scrambled eggs.