Any good Mid-Western or Southern American has tried Frito Chili Pie at least once in their lives. Growing up in my house, it was a staple. Continue reading “Frito Chili Joel”
I love my parents – they’re hilarious and adorable and they’re best friends and huge nerds, and they compliment each other in a million different ways. But my favourite yin/yang quality of theirs has to do with my favourite breakfast: biscuits* and gravy.
My mom is the cook in the family. She reads cookbooks for fun, re-creates recipes after eating a dish at a restaurant, and has a vault of self-learnt recipes that impossibly blends complete trash food and gourmet dining. With the exception of something we now call “Corn Loaf”, a corn and cheese side dish that was supposed to be a fluffy Mexican corn dish that somehow went wrong and solidified mass of corn and goo that we could almost cut in slices, I can’t remember a single dish my mom has made that I haven’t liked. No one makes a grilled cheese sandwich or a plate of scrambled eggs like my mom. And I’ve tried for years to replicate my all time famous dish of hers, Baked Chili Spaghetti, to no avail. I’ve been asking for about ever for her to write these recipes for me, but I always get the same answer – “I’m not sure – I just make it. Just take X and X and X and go with it!” She’s a jerk.
My dad, on the other hand, passed his cooking skills down to me. We both need detailed instructions and tools. But we both looooove to eat. So it all balances out.
One of the biggest things I miss about living with my parents is the food. Particularly the big Sunday or holiday breakfasts. “Breakfast Skillets,” which are individual skillets layered with a fried egg, hash browns, sausage gravy, and topped with cheese and crumbled bacon. French toast fried perfectly with crispy edges and a soft center and topped with maple syrup and powdered sugar; Bacon and egg fried rice; but the best of it all is biscuits and sausage gravy.
Mom makes a helluva good gravy. I’ve never actually seen her make it – it just always appeared at the same time as the scrambled eggs did – both hot and ready to eat, with only one pan being used. It’s a mystery to me. For all the cooking talent my mom has, she can’t form a biscuit to save her life. They come out lumpy, malformed, a bit like a gargoyle fist – if that gargoyle fist was slammed in a door a few times. They break when you touch them and they’re pretty dense.
That’s where my dad comes in – his gravy may taste floury or be too watery, but his biscuits are always geometrically perfect with flat golden tops, and have the most perfect smooth and fluffy texture. I remember watching him make the dough, flouring the counter top, rolling the dough with a rolling pin, and using the same cup he always used to stamp out the biscuits. It’s the only cooking ritual I remember my dad having in the kitchen – besides the giant bowl he used to eat cereal.
With my parent’s powers combined, they make one awesome sauce breakfast. And it’s just one of those little anecdotes about their relationship that I think is too adorable.
I was looking through our fridge this morning and noticed our bacon was about to go off, and I immediately thought about making gravy with it. Even though I never made bacon before. So I called the Breakfast Masters for a crash course in Gravy 101 – what kind of spices to use, what kind of utensils, and basically the most important aspect of gravy – which is continuous whisking.
Now, this is for bacon gravy, which isn’t as good as sausage gravy – (which I’m attempting next week), so this is an abbreviated method (mostly so I won’t forget when I try again next week)
Step 1: Fry lots of bacon. Sing the bacon some sweet songs to encourage all the grease to collect in the pan (you only have to do this in Australia, where the bacon isn’t NEARLY as greasy as it is the US)
Step 2: Once bacon is at desired doneness (extra crispy for me, please – I want that shit to shatter in melty bacony goodness), remove from pan and wrap in aluminium foil to keep warm.
Step 3: On medium heat, melt some butter (see above note about Bacon not being greasy enough)
Step 4: Sprinkle a couple table spoons of flour over the butter and whisk that up with either a whisk, a wooden spoon, or the bottom of a flat rubber spatula – whatever won’t scratch up the pan
Step 5: Whisking constantly, cook the flour and butter for a few minutes until it’s really clumpy. If you don’t cook it long enough the flour will taste raw.
Step 6: Add milk – I eyeballed it by adding 1/2 cup at at time. And whisk whisk whisk.
Step 7: Season with salt, pepper, whatever else you’d like. I threw in some cajun seasoning.
You can add more milk if it’s too thick, more flour if it’s too watery
I served mine over toast with the fried bacon. And it tasted just as good as my mom’s, which made me feel like a double champ – 1) because I tried something new and it wasn’t a disaster, and 2) because it was delish. It felt like a taste from home.
But I also feel like a world of heart clogging, thigh jiggling, gravy topped food opportunities have opened up for me – and that’s hella exciting.
Tune in next week for episode 2! We’ll see if my biscuit game is on point.
*I should clarify for my non-Americans that I mean scones – biscuits in the States are the equivalent of scones in Australia. The first time I mentioned biscuits and gravy at work I was met with some grossed out and confused looks.
“Like… biscuits? Covered in gravy?”
“Yeah, it’s SO good.”