Adding the Garden to the Gravy — Herbed Sausage Gravy

     There was extra milk and a pound of sausage so it goes without saying that sausage gravy quickly came to mind. But, I wanted to “kick it up a notch” so here’s what I did – chopped a bunch of fresh herbs, pulled an onion from the garden, and heated up the skillet.
     Gravy is really just a flavored (medium) white sauce with a few minor adjustments, so a recipe is not essential if you can remember this simple ratio: 1 cup liquid to 2 tablespoons of flour and fat (the amount of flour and fat is always the same; 1:1). Once you have that memorized, you have the basis for any number of recipes, from gravies to pasta sauces, to soups and much more.
     In my opinion the onions and herbs really did kick the gravy up a notch . . . but then when you start out with fresh ground sausage from Zey’s Market, it’s just a matter of adding even more flavor to an already wonderful product. And, I should note – Zey’s fresh ground sausage is lower in fat than most so adjust the amount of added oil and butter accordingly.

Herbed Sausage Gravy   Serves 4 to 6+
1 lb. ground pork sausage
½ of a large onion, finely chopped
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh chopped herbs – I used thyme, flat-leaf parsley & basil
½ to 1 teaspoon black pepper
4 tablespoons total fat  (after frying the sausage, I estimated I had just about 1 tablespoon of rendered fat so I added 1 tablespoon of butter + 2 tablespoons of olive oil)
4 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 cups+ milk (I prefer whole milk)
½ to 1 teaspoon dried red pepper flakes, optional
Thyme sprigs for garnishing if desired

1.     Crumble the sausage into a large hot skillet (medium-high temperature), stirring to break up any clumps. When about halfway browned, add the onions, fresh herbs and black pepper; cook until nicely browned, stirring occasionally.
Sausage is added to a hot skillet.
After the sausage is partially browned, add the onions and herbs.
2.     Reduce heat to about medium. At this point, estimate the amount of fat in the skillet and add enough butter or olive oil to equal a total of 4 tablespoons fat.
3.     Immediately stir in the flour; continue stirring and let this mixture cook for at least 3 to 5 minutes to avoid a raw flour taste.
Flour has been added to the browned sausage mixture.
4.     Slowly add the 2 cups of milk, stirring as you cook. Cook and thicken, adding additional milk to achieve a gravy-like consistency. As it cooks, add dried pepper flakes and sprinkle with paprika. Taste and adjust seasoning accordingly.
5.     Ladle gravy over biscuits, toast or even mashed potatoes. Garnish with a sprigs of thyme if desired.
I served Herbed Sausage Gravy over biscuits with sliced garden tomatoes and pickled dill okra.

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