Can I confess something to you? Before I moved to the U.S. I’d had never heard of biscuits and gravy before. Well, I knew what biscuits were, and I knew what gravy was of course, but I’d never heard of the two being served together, and certainly not for breakfast. Yet it’s a dish that everyone I know here grew up with. Interestingly Biscuits and Gravy emerged as a popular regional dish after the American Revolutionary War, precisely because it was cheap, hearty and used ingredients that were readily available to the average person. As far as I know there is no Canadian equivalent, or at least not that I ever saw growing up. So it wasn’t until after I’d moved to the U.S. that I tried this dish for the first time.
|Biscuits Fresh Out of the Oven|
I’d heard plenty about it by that time, lots of people raved about it, even going so far as to label it the quintessential American breakfast, so I was interested, and curious, though I have to say I was also skeptical. I was never really a meat in the morning kind of person, and for those of you who don’t know the gravy for traditional biscuits and gravy is made with ground pork sausage or ground beef, including the greasy drippings from said meat, mixed with flour, milk and a dash of this or that. I’ve also never really been a fan of milk, and honestly the idea of cooking ground beef in milk kind of put me off. The smell alone was horrendous, and then when I saw the finished product I thought it looked - advanced apologies for any former biscuits and gravy lovers - a lot like dog vomit. In any case it looked a lot more like something that should be coming out of you rather then going in, but scepticism aside I decided to give it a try. Well, I couldn’t get through more then a couple of bites before I wanted to retch - which is surprisingly exactly the reaction I had upon my first and only encounter with another popular American dish, Chicken Fried Steak. - There was absolutely nothing about it that I found appetizing aside form the biscuits and so I stared in awe as my husband continued to shovel mouthfuls of it into his mouth. Really the idea of cooking greasy ground beef in milk just gives me the shivers. Suffice to say I never ate biscuits and gravy again, nor had I any interest or intention of trying to veganize the dish.
Then last Thursday rolled around, and well you see I’ve set myself a little project. Since finishing vegan mofo I realized something. Though I own at least 20 or more cook books, I only ever use a handful of them. I’d never realized before that there are only about five or six books I consider to be me ‘go to’ cook books, while the rest I leave neglected in a pile to collect dust. After vegan mofo I decided to set myself the challenge of cooking at least 10 recipes from every one of my virtually unused cook books. I don’t have a specific time frame in mind, it’s just go at my own pace, and ever once and a while I’m sure I’ll share a recipe with you - as I’m doing today - So last Wednesday I was looking for something special to cook for my husband for breakfast on Thursday since he had that day off, and I happened upon the Baking Powder Biscuits with White Bean and Tempeh Sausage Gravy recipe from "Vegan with a Vengeance" As already stated my experience with biscuits and gravy was so bad that I’ve never thought about them for even a second since that day, but my husband has always been a fan. Since going vegetarian/vegan he hasn’t had them obviously, nor has he had a vegan version. Thinking it might be a nice treat for him I decided to take a moment to look over the recipe, and I don’t know something about it just started calling to me. The idea of blending up a can of white beans with vegetable broth to make a thick savory gravy, seasoned with Italian spices and loads of sage just got my mouth watering. I actually really like the idea of using white beans to make sauces, gravies and soup bases because they’re rich and creamy. I also love sage but don’t use it often enough.
|White Bean and Tempeh Sausage Gravy|
Now, tempeh I’m not such a fan of as I’ve mentioned before but I thought I’d give Isa the benefit of the doubt here. I liked the sound of her recipe for Tempeh Sausage Crumbles. It was relatively quick, and super easy, used ingredients I had on hand, and I’m always curious to try tempeh cooked in new ways to see if I like it any better. I think simmering it in water for twenty minutes as you do in this recipe goes a long way in cutting out that awful bitterness, while also loosening the tempeh up so that it can soak up other flavors. Once the water has been absorbed you then brown the tempeh in olive oil, and soy sauce and season it with garlic, oregano, marjoram, basil, sage, and fennel. I don’t particularly like fennel so instead of using 1 tbsp of fennel seed I used ½ tbsp and added 2 more cloves of minced garlic then required, and honestly it was fabulous!
Once your tempeh is all browned you add your blended gravy into the pan, warm it through then serve it over the biscuits, which by the way were exquisitely soft and doughy with just a slightly crisp outer edge just as I like them. I was completely blown away by this meal. I ate three biscuits and three generous scoops of gravy and I am more then willing to make this again. The tempeh sausage tasted just like what I remember Italian sausage to taste like - something else I never liked, but surprisingly don’t mind veganized - except a little milder, and not the slightest bit greasy. The fennel wasn’t overpowering and the sage was absolutely perfect, although I had to use dried sage because I didn’t have any fresh available. This breakfast couldn’t have turned out better. Although next time I think I might double the gravy recipe because I would have liked a bit more creamy liquid to soak my biscuits with.
Whether you were or weren’t a fan of biscuits and gravy I definitely recommend this recipe. If you were I imagine you’ll like this a lot, and If you weren’t you just might find yourself surprised. So if you own ‘Vegan with a Vengeance’ seriously, snap to it already!
PS: They taste good drizzled with a bit of Earth Balance then the gravy too! Yum1