Beat the Wheat: Biscuits and Sausage Gravy
There was a three-year period where I did a lot of road trips — seeing friends' new babies, going to weddings, visiting family, soaking up the sun at the beach. And on many Sunday mornings, I’d start my drive home still feeling the aftereffects from the previous night and in need of some hangover-recovery vittles.
My vice and the only thing that cleared my head? Biscuits and sausage gravy. Perhaps the least visually appealing thing on a plate, but no matter — it’s buttery, greasy and amazing. Whether I stopped at a big chain restaurant just off the interstate or a little roadside diner, all I wanted was a cup of strong black coffee, a Coca-Cola with lots of ice, and a plate of hot flaky biscuits and thick sausage gravy. That stuff was magic and did the trick every time.
Now that I can't eat gluten, I get little pangs of nostalgia when I pass one of the many places I know has this breakfast goodness on its laminated, photo-laden menu. So every now and then — and especially when I've had one too many glasses of wine the night before — I make gluten-free biscuits and sausage gravy for a late breakfast here at home. It's easy, and they're delicious.
The challenge is cracking the code on the perfect gluten-free biscuit. The right flour blend matters, and the flour-to-fat ratio plays a big role in how evenly they bake. I also had to let go of the concept of rolling out dough and using a biscuit cutter, which can leave the final product too dense, too grainy or rock hard within minutes of leaving the oven. I do drop biscuits instead, where I literally drop large spoonfuls of dough onto the baking sheet, and they flatten ever so slightly while baking. The biscuits end up looking like large, thick cookies, but their flavor and texture can't be beat.
This recipe is so good it might make you want to drink that extra glass of Cabernet Sauvignon the night before so you’ll have a good excuse to make these the next morning!
Baking by weight is the key to making a lot of gluten-free conversions work, since different flours have different weights and it's hard to do a 1-1 swap just by measuring volume. I've included both weights and measures for the biscuit recipe, so you can be as precise as you want. I've found this particular mix of flours to have the most "normal" biscuit-like taste. Mascarpone eliminates the need for xanthan or guar gum. I don't know why it works; it just does. For the sausage gravy, potato flour is my go-to flour of choice. It melds well with the other flavors and thickens more quickly than other flours I've tested when the milk is added.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Line two baking sheets with Silpat or parchment paper.
Combine all dry ingredients in a food processor and pulse 5 times to mix well.
Add butter and mascarpone to flour mix, and pulse 10 times to combine the ingredients. The dough should look slightly gravelly.
With the food processor on, slowly pour in the buttermilk. The dough will have the consistency of heavy, damp sand.
(Note: If not using a food processor, combine all dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl and whisk to mix them. Then, work in the butter and mascarpone with your fingers. Stir in buttermilk until well combined.)
Using a soup spoon or small serving spoon, drop 12 spoonful-size biscuits onto your Silpat- or parchment-lined baking sheets. They should be about an inch thick when you drop them onto the sheet.
Bake for 20 minutes, rotating pans after the first 10 minutes of baking time. Remove from oven and brush biscuits with melted butter.
Preheat a large skillet over medium-high heat.
Pinch off small chunks of the sausage and add to the pan. Cook until meat is browned all the way through, crumbling it even further with a wooden spoon or spatula during the cooking process.
Stir potato flour into the cooked sausage and continue cooking for 1 minute.Add the pepper, salt, smoked paprika, nutmeg and Worcestershire sauce. Stir to combine.
Pour in the milk, stirring frequently, and continue cooking over medium-high heat for about 5 to 7 minutes until bubbly and slightly thickened.
Remove from heat and spoon over biscuits.