Rev 1.00, last revised: 26-Oct-08
Nothing goes as well with my Buttermilk biscuits, as does a good, rich, gravy. Actually, I use the biscuits as an excuse to make the gravy. And we like lots of meat in our gravy. I don't use the sausage as a "flavor excuse". I use it as the main part of my gravy.
You can use anything from plain, ground, pork; bulk sausage packages sold in most grocery stores or meat markets; or a prepared, name brand sausage mix. For convenience, I often use “Jimmy Dean” pork sausage, either the “Hot” and/or “Sage” flavors. But when I have the time and can get it, I prefer to make my sausage by starting with fresh ground pork, and spicing it the way I like it. I make varying amounts of gravy. Sometimes I make a smaller amount for fewer guests, more if I expect a crowd or want to make some ahead.
This recipe is for each pound of fresh, 30% (about) fat, pork meat. You can also use a single 12oz. package of prepared sausage (like "Jimmy Dean"), you'll just get a little less meat. I said 30%, because sausage is supposed to be at least 30% fat. So don’t use only lean pork, or it won’t taste or form right. And for those of you reading here making faces of disgust and horror about the fat content, you might first want to look up any peer-reviewed medical journal from any of the dozen or so top medical journals of your choice. Drop me a note if and when you find even one that supports your presumed assumptions about dietary fats and oils. The oh so "age of Aquarius," holistic, “low-fat” eating regimen, was first (inaccurately or incorrectly) "reported" by a reporter covering a senate hearing. That bit of "myth" was usurped by the arrogant and adopted by the ignorant in the ‘70’s. It is 100% urban myth, junk-science, and ipso-facto garbage! No matter what the buy 'low-fat' merchants may be telling you, it's not the fat's and oils you eat that are stuffed into your fat cells or layered onto your arteries! That, given our current, human metabolic mechanisms, is utterly impossible!
Grind your chilled (even up to partially frozen) fresh pork through a 3/16 in. plate. Proportionally mix in the spices as you grind. Return to freezer, and allow to chill to near freezing. Grind a second time with a 1/4 in. plate. This should get you a good mixing as well as a uniform grind.
Melt 1-stick of the butter and sauté the mushrooms over medium-high heat. As they're cooked, the mushrooms will cast off water and shrink. Cook until the water is evaporated and the fat begins to “sparkle.” Remove from heat, extracting them with a slotted-spoon. Reserve as much of the melted butter as will remain.
Return the skillet to med-high heat. Add the sausage and brown, breaking up any large chunks with your spatula. When done (slightly browned in most places), remove the sausage but reserve the excess fats/oils. Be especially certain to leave the little bits of browned sausage “crunchies” on the bottom.
Add the second stick of butter, and if needed, add enough oil so that there is about a cup or so of fat/oil in the skillet. When hot, incrementally add the flour, stirring constantly as it cooks. It should only take a few minutes to start to gently brown to a golden color. The light gravy made this way is known as roux. In its various incantations, it is at the heart of all great sauces.
Turn the heat up to high, and add the 1/2 & 1/2 or cream continuing to stir constantly. When the mixture starts to bubble, add the mushrooms and the sausage sautéed previously, and turn the heat down to low.
Allow to simmer gently for at least 15 and up to 45 minutes or so to permit the gravy to thicken up and flavors to suffuse.
Taste and adjust seasonings as may be required. I find that a few good dashes of Paprika, and some freshly grated nutmeg serve to highlight the gravy.
Serve over fresh Buttermilk Biscuits, scones, or even toast if that’s all that’s available.