Wednesday, May 28, 2008

Biscuits and Burnt Flour Gravy (with Melon)

We were craving the biscuits and gravy from the sadly defunct Globe Cafe in Seattle, and since we are something like 500 plus miles and about a year too late to eat at the Globe, we decided to make our own, using Alexa frozen biscuits and a modification to my great grandmother's basic burnt flour gravy.

Burnt flour gravy is a really common thing in West Virginia, It's a good way to add some flavor to a meal and stretch a buck at the same time.

Burnt Flour Gravy:

1 Shallot, diced.
4 T Flour
1 T nutritional yeast (aka, Brewer's yeast.)
1 teaspoon cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
generous dash of cayenne pepper
1 cup water

Mix together the flour, yeast, salt, cumin, and pepper until pretty well mixed up.

Heat 2 or 3 T Canola oil in a skillet until hot. (Traditionally this would be the hot rendered fat from fried chicken or roast beef, along with the browned bits of the meat, called "Drippings" in West Virginia, naturally this isn't vegetarian, so we use the shallots to take their place. the gravy doesn't miss the meat at all.) Add the shallots and cook until golden brown. Slowly sprinkle the flour mixture into the hot oil, like snow. Mix the flour into the oil with a wooden spoon until it becomes a bit of a dry paste. (this is called a roux.) Spread this out as much as possible and let the flour toast in the skillet. The longer this toasts, the darker the gravy will be. The gravy can range from a white gravy, (The Globe's was closer to a white gravy, made with mushrooms i addition to the shallots,) which is toasted just little bit, to a deep brown gravy, which is truly the burnt flour gravy. The burnt flour takes on a bitter, nutty flavor which is really the trademark of appalachian burnt flour gravy.

When the roux is a nice light brown, add the water in a slow stream and stir constantly. As soon as it hits the pan, it will steam up and mix with the burnt flour and form a thick starchy gravy, add more and more water till the gravy is at the desired thickness. Once it is there, take it off the heat or it will lose the water and thicken up more.

Serve the gravy on top of stuff.

EDIT: Here's a variation on the gravy that's very close to the Globe's Mushroom Gravy.

2 to 3 T Oil
4 T Flour
1/2 tspn salt
generous amount of black pepper
3 sage leaves minced
1/4 of an onion, diced.
5 or 6 crimini or button mushrooms, sliced thin

Heat the oil, cook the onions, mushrooms and sage until just beginning to brown, then sprinkle a mix of the flour, salt and pepper over the hot oil, just toast the flour a tiny bit, just until it's just slighly tan, then the rest is pretty much the same. We had it tonight over biscuits, and it was very reminiscent of the Globe's.

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