Monday, February 26, 2007

Cream gravy recipe, the cream of the gravy crop

OK, class. Before we begin today’s lesson in Texan cooking, we’re going to take a little pop quiz:

1. In Texas, what is the correct topping for mashed potatoes?
2. In Texas, what is the correct topping for biscuits, besides butter, honey or jam?
3. In Texas, what is the correct topping for chicken fried steak?
4. In Texas, what is the correct topping for any other piece of meat, fish or sausage and/or any other vegetable?
5. What did my great-grandmother Blanche feed her dog, Rover?

Did you answer “cream gravy” for all five questions? Fantastic, here’s a gold star! Otherwise, let me explain.

While chili gravy is the essence of Tex-Mex, one of the hallmarks of Tex-Tex is cream gravy. This thick, peppery and creamy sauce is poured over everything, as you can see by the above questions. It’s a simple concoction, made with pan drippings, flour, milk and cracked black pepper. But while it may appear plain, it’s infinitely delicious. Sometimes it goes by the name country gravy or white gravy, but in Texas we always call it cream gravy. Or better yet—just gravy because in Texas there really is no other kind.

The history of cream gravy goes back hundreds of years with its origins springing from limited means. People didn’t have the ingredients to make complex meat-stock gravies, but there was always flour, milk and pepper on hand to add to the pan drippings. Not only did my great-grandmothers make the stuff but they probably learned how to make it from their mothers. My grandma tells me they ate it all the time, pouring it over everything as it was a great way to stretch a meal during the Depression. And apparently my great-grandma Blanche even whipped up batches from her bottomless can of bacon grease to feed her dog.

As you can see, my family has a long history with cream gravy. And while I have always loved it, I never thought it was unique because it was always both expected and available. I remember the first time, however, I ordered mashed potatoes outside the state. I asked for extra gravy, which they generously provided, but what they served me wasn’t white, it was brown. I was horrified. “What’s this?” I asked. “It’s gravy,” my server replied. Well, it may have been gravy, but it wasn’t the right kind of gravy.

(Note: Not all cream gravy is pure white. Mine always turns out slightly off white, as you can see in the photos. That’s because of the dark color of my pan drippings and I use King Arthur’s White Whole-Wheat Flour, which isn’t very white, it’s more beige. But I digress.)

It’s still impossible to find cream gravy at restaurants in the Northeast. And I even had a hard time convincing a restaurant in Alabama (of all places!) last year to serve me cream gravy instead of brown gravy. Since cream gravy is rooted in a time when people didn’t have a lot, I bet brown gravy is perceived as a fancy rich-man’s food. But if it comes from a jar or a can as it so often does, brown gravy is not any improvement on the sublime simplicity of cream gravy.

To craft cream gravy is a cinch. I watched my mother prepare it all my life, so it’s just one of those things you know how to do without thinking about precise measurements and such. But if you’ve never made it I will provide you with guidance and a recipe. It’s best cooked with pan drippings, but you can do it from scratch with either vegetable oil or bacon grease. And while cracked black pepper is the traditional seasoning, you can tart it up with chipotles, jalapenos, cayenne or chile powder.

Now, if you’re looking for a vehicle for your gravy, watch this space. To celebrate Texas Independence Day on March 2nd, later this week I’ll talk about our state dish, chicken fried steak—always best served swimming in cream gravy. Until then, you can try it on your potatoes, your biscuits, your rice or anything else you want to drown in peppery, creamy delight. And heck, if for some bizarre reason you decide you don’t like it, you can do as Grandma Blanche and feed it to your dog.

Cream gravy
Ingredients:
2 tablespoons pan drippings, bacon grease or vegetable oil
2 tablespoons flour
1 1/2 cups milk
1 teaspoon black pepper
Salt to taste

Combine fat with flour in a hot skillet, continuously stirring, cook on medium for a couple of minutes until a dark roux is formed.

Add milk slowly to skillet, and mix with roux using either a whisk or wooden spoon (be sure and press out any lumps). Turn heat to low and continue stirring until mixture is thickened, a couple more minutes. Add pepper and salt to taste.

If gravy is too thick for your taste, you can thin it by adding either more milk or water a tablespoon at a time. Goes great with mashed potatoes, fried chicken, biscuits, chicken fried steak, grits, vegetables, rice or anything else you can imagine.

Yield: 1 1/2 cups

Preparation time: 5 minutes

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101 comments:

Lydia said...

My friend Joe, a born-and-bred Texan, introduced me to chicken fried steak with cream gravy years ago. Oh my, that stuff is good!! Thanks for the recipe; my taste buds are going nuts!

Mass Ave Eats said...

I remember taking out my college friend for chicken tenders and gravy once. She was from California and had never seen cream gravy. When they served our tenders, she actually asked me what the white stuff with them was, and I was horrified! I couldn't imagine a life without cream gravy.

Cilantro said...

Sometimes, even after eating a full meal, if there's a tiny bit of cream gravy left over in the frying pan, I will lay a piece of bread in there and eat it, guiltily, standing over the stove.

It's no wonder I have to run for miles every day to keep the weight off. Still, it's worth it to not have to give up Texas Guilty Pleasures like cream gravy.

Eliza said...

My husband and I moved to California shortly after my parents a few years ago. It was amazing the difference in just a few states. We had a few friends who thought we were a little off kilter because my husband would mention we had biscuits and gravy for dinner one night. On the other hand we were the ones shocked when we ordered a tamale one evening and found corn in it. Mexican food influenced by the Baja is a long shot if your expecting Tex-Mex. I'm happy to say , at least in the food arena, that we have been back in Texas for several years now and I wouldn't give up my biscuits and gravy for anything.

nika said...

Just give me a spoon, this gravy, some privacy, and I am set :-).

Just wanted to let you know I mentioned you today in a tortilla post I did
http://nikas-culinaria.com/2007/02/26/stewing-goodness-oxtail-soup-and-homemade-corn-tortillas/

thanks for the inspiration!

Pamela said...

Oh, my! One of my favorite childhood memories is sitting down at the table on a cold morning to a plate of sourdough biscuits with cream gravy. Absolute heaven! (I like LOTS of black pepper in mine.)

I do NOT like the cream gravy with sausage in it, however; I think they call it sawmill gravy. Keep it pure and simple.

Homesick Texan said...

Lydia--That stuff is so good indeed! I've been eating it the past three days and still haven't grown tired of it.

Mass Ave--I love it! Someone thinking cream gravy is odd, it's my story in reverse! And yes, I couldn't imagine a life without it either.

Cilantro--That's why Texas toast was invented, to sop up the gravy. And yes, while many Texan dishes aren't exactly great for the waistline, the sure do taste good!

Eliza--I wouldn't give up biscuits and gravy for anything either. After I lived in Spain for six months, it was the first meal I had upon my return I had missed it so much.

Nika--Great post Nika, your tortillas are gorgeous!

Pamela--The more black pepper the merrier, I always say. I've never made sourdough biscuits, but am hoping to someday soon get a decent starter going.

Tommy said...

Making full use of your ingredients is always a neat way to see how a region's cuisine evolves.
Much like how some English households fry bread in meat drippings, you gotta get every bit of flavour out of the pan.

Just where does the ground sausage floating in the gravy come from ?
I am much more familair with this rendition than just plain cream gravy. Are cream gravy purists aghast at what is served under some buffet hot lamps ?

Yvo said...

Funny, growing up I didn't like this stuff (the first time I got it, I was kind of like where's the brown stuff, and it was too peppery for me) but now I've grown to love it. Glad to know it's so easy to make!!! You ever go to Cracker Barrel? It's not in NYC and I usually save it for road trips, but their chicken fried chicken is delicious and part of the reason is their wonderful "cream" gravy. So good. Yum yum yum. Thanks for sharing!

StormySleep said...

Cream gravy or sawmill gravy, I love them both. The best breakfast: sausage, biscuits, and gravy. Gravy poured over everything. And if we didn't have biscuits, we'd pour it over toast. Anything that could be a gravy delivery device worked for us.

My mouth is watering on Madison Ave.

s'kat said...

I had my first cream gravy experience at the masterful hands of my husband- fried chicken, gravy and biscuits! It was, indeed is, a beautiful thing.

gilly said...

Hi Lisa!
I love reading the stories behind your receipes... thanks for the cream gravy primer - I can see that it has a long, rich and delicious history!

vlb5757 said...

Sometimes in some East Coast states you can order a Chicken Fried Steak with BROWN gravy. What are those people thinking? The proper gravy for Chicken Fried Steak is CREAM gravy. I passed and had a hamburger. Some things you just don't mess with...now pass that gravy!!

Homesick Texan said...

Tommy--That's the most efficient way to cook, use what you have. There's no sausage in this gravy, any brown bits you see are pan drippings from chicken fried steak.

Yvo--You're welcome and it's very easy to make. And I've never been to a Cracker Barrel, but I've seen them. I should stop in next time and try their CFS and cream gravy. Mmmmm!

StormySleep--Glad your mouth is watering, I've done my job. And yes, sausage, biscuits and gravy is a fab breakfast, but I can eat it any time of day. Now if they'd just sell Owens' sausage in NYC, life would be grand.

S'Kat--Oh yes, cream gravy, fried chicken and biscuits is a perfect and delicious marriage of tasty foods! You have a wonderful husband!

Gilly--You're welcome, glad you enjoyed the history!

Vickie--Brown gravy on CFS? That's bordering on a criminal act. Nuts! And yes, you just can't mess with cream gravy!

Shawnda said...

Pan drippings and a cast iron skillet make the best gravy!

Chicken Fried Gourmet said...

mmmmmmm Bacon Drippings, enough said

rob said...

I love cream gravy. I'm a little hesitant to admit I put myself through university (and met my wife) working at a Canadian Tex-Mex restaurant, but it's true. The restaurant was owned by a Texan who came to Canada to play football in the CFL. Anyways, it was there that I discovered the joys of a country fried steak with cream gravy. Ohhh that stuff is sooo good, and your version looks unbelievable, especially smothering a scoop of mashed potatoes.

Rosa's Yummy Yums said...

That sounds very very good, especially over mashed potatoes!

melissa mcgee said...

there's nothing on this planet that isn't better with cream gravy on it. in my family, gravy might as well be one of the basic food groups; it's always present in just about every meal served.

i always joke that when i'm on death row (i DO live in texas, after all) for killing that guy (yet to be determined) i want as my last meal a big ol' plate of mile-high texas biscuits covered in my momma's cream gravy. i'd definitely die happy.

wheresmymind said...

Damn it...now I want some Chicken Fried steak and waffles...right NOW! lol

TexanNewYorker said...

Oh, GRAVY. My Daddy makes the best cream gravy and I never can seem to get it to turn out like his. I like it with sausage or without, and Lisa, you're right -- if they'd just sell OWENS sausage here, I'd be all set. I wrote to the company once to ask if they could ship it to me, but alas, they don't have online ordering. *sigh* What I wouldn't give for some flaky biscuits, a few well-done Owens patties and a vat of Daddy's gravy . . . GREAT POST!!

Freya said...

I feel sorry for the non-gravy eaters, it makes everything taste so much better. With the possible exception of ice cream and margaritas. But I'd give it a go!

mae said...

I'm a huge fan of pepper sauce or sauce au poivre. This sounds very similar to it. The recipe looks simple enough. I can't wait to have a taste of this with your texan chicken fried steak. Your photo is very tempting.

Yeeeha!!! (Ok, that was poor. Sorry!)

Homesick Texan said...

Shawnda--A cast iron skillet is a must!

Chicken Fried Gourmet--Mmmm, indeed!

Rob--A Canadian Tex-Mex restaurant?That I have to see! At least it was owned by a Texan!

Rosa--It's terrific over mashed potatoes, or just about anything else you care to smother in cream gravy.

Melissa--That should be the next food law the State legislature passes--naming cream gravy as one of the basic Texan food groups.

Wheresmymind--Mmmm, waffles!!

TexanNewYorker--I love how everyone's parents make the best cream gravy, it's like chili or chicken fried steak--a true family affair. That's bad news about Owens, I'm thinking about trying to deconstruct their recipe so I can recreate it here in NY.

Freya--I feel sorry for them, too. What's life without gravy?

Mae--This gravy is probably just a poor man's sauce au poivre. And that was a terrific yeehaw!

tut-tut said...

Before I moved South, I had never had such a thing as cream gravy. But we have sausage gravy here; can't get enough, and so economicial, too.

Vanessa said...

this extensive post covers all but one of my gravy questions... it's tasty, it goes with everything, but is it a beverage? my highschool boyfriend believed it was, but then again he also favored metal bands like "Sepultura."

DrLeonesse said...

Oh! My, my, YES! I was raised on biscuits and gravy...in Arizona...via Texas. It was my dad's favorite breakfast until the day he died.

Homesick Texan said...

Tut-Tut--It is economical as it's not only made with inexpensive ingredients, but it also fills up your belly.

Vanessa--A beverage? It's pretty thick stuff. Hmmmmm....maybe for metal heads, I reckon.

Dr Leonesse--What a treat being raised on biscuits and gravy! A fine foundation!

Inane said...

I've always been a fan of sausage gravy and biscuits....and CFS...

Two Q's... ideas for making pan drippings from scratch (when you havent made a roast or something and JUST WANT GRAVY! ) and can you suggest a good place for CFS in NYC. (I make mine with the biscuit mix in those little blue boxes...)

Tommy said...

The CDN "Tex Mex' restaurant Rob is referring to is called the Lone Star Cafe. It was started by a Texan named Val Belcher (yep, real name) who did play football in Ottawa, Ontario and opened his first restaurant there.
It consists of 11 locations across Canada. Before you start making plans on eating there, I must let you know the food ain't that great.

I consider it very average "franchise food". It would be similar to classifying the "Olive Garden" an Italian eatery.
But they do have real tortilla machines making product at some locations. So that is good.

Garrett said...

I was never able to make my mom's gravy, which always used liquid smoke and not cream. Mine always comes out lumpy. However this sounds so good, I'll have to try it!
Another beautiful post, as always!

scribbit said...

Every time we go cut our Christmas tree we take the kids out to breakfast. My husband always ALWAYS orders chicken fried steak. He can't get me to cook like that for him so he gets his fix once a year (lucky for him, more than that and he'd die of a coronary). It just confuses me. Is it chicken? Is it beef? Is it even meat at all?

Terry B said...

Having spent much quality time in St. Louis and points south, biscuits and gravy is one of my top comfort foods on the planet. Thanks for this great sounding recipe!

For taming lumps in gravy or any sauce, IKEA makes an amazing whisk with a flat plastic head for maximum contact with the skillet and no scratching. It's called the DIREKT whisk and it sells for about a buck. Unfortunately, it's only available in-store.

Rachael said...

Wow. Who knew.
Amazing stuff.
Thanks!

Draconian Clown said...

Truly amazing memories are had on your site!

My aunt Christine in far West Texas made this cream gravy that topped everything! Of course, the tastiest base was mashed potatoes. She cooked her flour/oil mix a little longer than usual before adding the milk to produce a browner than usual gravy. It was roughly the color of roux and was silky smooth.

The amazing thing about gravy on everything eating, was that you didn't need to eat again for a day or so. Unless, of course, your day included the use of some old fashioned post hole diggers.

Homesick Texan said...

Inane--If you're making gravy from scratch, I'd either use bacon drippings (if you have some) or peanut oil. Granted, you won't have as much flavor so use extra black pepper. In NYC, The Hog Pit has it on the menu, and while I haven't had it there in years it used to be good. It's also served at Cafeteria but I haven't tried it.

Tommy--Thanks for the info! Fresh tortillas sounds like a step in the right direction.

Garrett--Liquid Smoke sounds like an interesting ingredient--does it give it a meatier flavor if you're not using pan drippings?

Scribbit--It's neither chicken nor steak!

Terry B--Thanks for the tip on the IKEA whisk. Next time I'm there I'll have to grab one.

Rachael--You're welcome!

Draconian Clown--Yep, cream gravy is definitely stick-to-your-bones food.

The County Clerk said...

I hate to be a total history twit but... I guess I am.

It is interesting that March 2 is "the day"... and you are correct I believe.

But the Battle of San Jacinto wasn't fought intil April 21st (of 1836)... and in that year, the seige of the Alamo was still raging on March 2. (The 13-day siege started Tuesday, February 23 and ended on Sunday, March 6.)

OF COURSE you are right and good to venerate the magnificent CFS on this and ANY day.

March 2 WAS the day the Republic of Texas adopted the Texas Declation of Independance. You are AS ALWAYS correct.

But I always thought April 21st - the day Sam Houston and his rowdy bunch kicked some ass - was a much bigger day.

Start planning your April 21st entry soon... but what's better than Chicken Fried Steak?

Leslie said...

I was raised with the Kentucky version of cream gravy, prepared by my Granny from her stovetop can of bacon grease or the pan drippings from frying up some sausage (the more traditional version for serving over biscuits) but from the sound of it, Texas cream gravy is the same.

Next week I'll be picking up my inheritance from my Granny - her 50-60+ year old cast iron cookware, which her Alzheimer's now prevents her from using. So many deeply-felt memories in those pans, and one of biggest ones is the cream gravy she taught me to make.

christine said...

Your pictures are making me hungry! It's almost noon here and now I want some of that cream gravy and mashed potatoes. Thanks for sharing this recipe. :)

Kathie said...

You have a talent for writing. I really enjoyed reading your descriptions. I was raised in Fla. by Midwesterners and have lived in Tenn., PA, Indiana and now Texas. Texas is an amazing state. I have never seen people so dedicated to the heritage of their state as I have here in Texas.
I have a cast iron skillet, but I have never found it to work well. It was from my Aunt, who is now cooking in heaven, so it has followed me to each state. Maybe my problem is, I have not used it for "deep fat frying", as your recipe describes. I'll give it a try.

My son lives in NY and I was proucly sporting his NY marathon shirt today in San Antonio.

Let me know if you are going to do any more writing. I really enjoyed reading your post.

Blessings,
Kathie
kathie.sherman@gmail.com

Lisa said...

Oh YAY, I just discovered your blog. I live with a homesick Texan, and after a year and a half he's finally started venturing into the kitchen to try and show me -- a lifetime Yankee -- a few things. He's a novice cook still, though, and this looks like a good source of treats I can make him smile with. I can make a roux, I can make bechamel, but cream gravy has thus far eluded me... thank you!

Don said...

Yum. Nothing like a little cream gravy on everything to make everything better. I remember my first exposure was a Chili's restaurant when I was a kid (Yeah I know.. sad, but that's what happens when you live 2000 miles away from Texas)

But I've grown up and make my own now. :)

Just one question.. what heck is chili gravy?

Aulaire said...

Now wait! What do you mean that CFS is neither chicken nor steak? I've never had it, but I always assumed it was steak coated like fried chicken then fried. You've made it necessary for me to whip up some gravy, but what if I want to put it on CFS? I don't have a granny to ask, so help me out here!

Courtney said...

i heart chicken friend steak and gravy. i'm trying to convince my london-bred (doens't sound as good as texas-bred) boyfriend to try it, but he's skeptical. i'm going home to austin in one week and can barely wait. i might have to make some gravy in the meantime...

Holly said...

I'm a Seattle girl born and bred, and my mom's from LA. My Texan boyfriend's moving in with me, and he hasn't the slightest idea how to cook, and he doesn't eat Northwest food. He told me to look up chicken fried steak, and apparently the gravy goes with it. I've had gravy about twice in my life, so I'm about as clueless as he is.


What, pray tell, are pan drippings?
Thanks!

Homesick Texan said...

Holly--Pan drippings are the little pieces of meat and grease left over in the skillet after you fry up some meat, such as the chicken-fried steak, bacon, chicken, etc. You'll make him very, very, very happy (trust me!) if you make him chicken-fried steak!

Paul5388 said...

I'm a Texan by choice, not by birth, but I've been here since 1952. My wife of 41 years is a native born Texan, as are my three children.

I completely understand the importance of cream gravy as the proper topping for rice, mashed potatoes, CFS and other food items.

My wife is a wonderful cook, but does have a little bit of a problem with making good gravy, so I found this blog in my search for a good recipe, with plenty of black pepper! It is desperately needed for her cathead biscuits and chicken fried anything.

Ah, yes, she can chicken fry potatoes, yard bird (chicken), hamburger patties (similar to a DQ Dude), squash, eggplant and on and on, but not to exclude hot water bread (a type of fried corn bread)! She does such a wonderful job, I bought her a 7 liter deep fryer to go with the 4 liter we already had.

She can make a wonderful chili powder gravy for enchiladas and other Tex-Mex dishes. Brown gravy (which is actually water or broth based) and cream gravy (which has a milk base) are still eluding her masterful touch. So, we'll try your recipe and directions.

My standard, at the present, is Dairy Queen's (DQ) gravy for their "steak finger" basket. I know it's a pitiful state of affairs, but it's the best I can do at the present.

I believe some of the desire men have for biscuits and gravy hearkens back to their military days and SOS. We won't go into what those initials stand for, but let it suffice to say it was basically a cream gravy with hamburger, sausage or chipped dried beef in it, served over toast or biscuits for breakfast. That's one my wife can do well, so I don't fully comprehend her difficulties with plain ole gravy.

WyzrdX said...

When I married my wife she had always dreamed of living in Texas. I am a native Texan so within a few months we moved to Waller. One day we stopped at Dairy Queen and ordered steak finger baskets. When we got our order, she asked me what the cream sauce was for. I had never thought anyone didnt know what cream gravy was. Well now she knows and she makes it alot. Being a true Texan, I dont mind. :p

Anonymous said...

I just found this site and this is by far the best recipe for gravy I have found. I love extra pepper in my gravy, but have to set a little "plain" aside for my cats. They LOVE this gravy & insist on getting their own little plate!

Kate said...

Don't go to Cracker Barrel for the gravy. What they call sawmill gravy is pretty much just library paste that occasionally will have a speck or two of pepper in it. My mother made phenomenal gravy, and I'm the only one in my family who can do it properly. Sometimes when I'm in the need for comfort food, I'll fry up a bit of chicken or beef, then make a cream gravy with the pan drippings and have it with biscuits or mashed potatoes. Sometimes both. I'm from Illnois, which certainly isn't the south, but yet cream gravy is very common here.

Anonymous said...

I just found you blog and I love it! Luckily, I was raised by a Mama that knew how to make cream gravy. She never taught me how but I must have learned just by casually watching her so many times throughout the years. I claim that the longevity of my 34 year marriage is largely due to the fact that I can make some dang good gravy! Thanks for the great post!

El Queso de Bunoes Aires said...

Just came across your blog. I'm an expat Texan living in Buenos Aires and was having fun reading about the things I miss so much. Argentina is not exactly a food connoisseur's paradise. My wife is from Paraguay, and while they do a little better as far as cooking, they still don't really have any sophistication. I have taken great pleasure in the last couple of years in introducing chicken-fried stake with cream gravy to the otherwise unfortunate souls of this area of South America. Unfortunately, I never have time, with interference from work, to cook as much as they would like...maybe I should open a restaurant!

G. Parker said...

I think the best gravy I've ever had in a restaurant is at the Texas Roadhouse. Ohhhhh. It was wonderful. We are from Utah, but we know good gravy when we taste it. My kids don't like the pepper, but we have biscuits and gravy once in a while -- like tonight. I was glad to find your blog with the recipe. Fun blog!

Anonymous said...

My mom died a few years ago, on Mother's day. A pretty neat hat trick for a mother of six and foster mom to fifty kids. For years I loved talking with her in the kitchen as she made mashed potatoes and gravy. Staying out of her way was my way of helping. I can still hear the metallic stirring in the frying pan as she made her gravy. In my heart I never figured I could make gravy as good as my mom's or any mother's cause making it seemed to come naturally from their being mothers. So, I always used gravy packets when cooking for myself. Never liked them! Now...somehow, the recipes make sense and I can make gravy from a father's heart.

Thanks,

Jim Mahoney
Spokane, WA

Chunk-A-Saurus P!NK said...

I am a native Houstonian, born and raised in Spring Branch. This is my mothers GRAVY!!! We eat it on rice, mashed potatoes, fried pork chops and with our fried chicken.

The best way to eat it is with a sauce ( soy sauce, white vinegar, onions and jalapeno juice*we are part Pacific Islander with Texas roots)on top of hot white rice!

I just discovered your blog and I LOVE IT!

Anonymous said...

I live in California and when I was little we used to take Route 66 to visit my grandmother in Kansas. To this day I still remember the sausage biscuits and gravy I use to get crossing the pan handle. Anyone on the west coast that’s tried biscuits and gravy with real Texas sausage knows what I mean when I say you can't find decent gray anywhere out here. It makes me feel sorry for those people that don't know any better. So after trying the last flower and water concoction that’s being passed off as gravy I decided to search and see if I could get some sausage delivered and I came across your site. Thanks for the recipes; I can’t wait to try your homemade sausage and gravy!

Anonymous said...

Born and raised in West Virginia, Chicken Fried Steak is a staple there also. Though my mother just called it cubed steak. The steak recipe is exactly the same. However in this part of the country white (what you call cream) is frowned on. Again recipe is generally the same yet we tend to brown the flour a bit more which gives it more flavor. That said I guess it's all what you grow-up with. Thanks for posting, good stuff.

Anonymous said...

This looks so good. I moved to Texas about two years ago. I am originally from New England and I have to say, I have never, to my knowledge, had freshly made cream gravy. I have had white gravy or country gravy, made from powder and all I have to say is "yech". But this - this looks like some darned good gravy. I'm going to have to make some.

Anonymous said...

You are the love of my life now. My mom always made cream gravy with sausage grease. I do not like sausage so that was always a bummer. Your recipe saved my life tonight. You are my hero!!!! Diane, St. Louis, MO

Danceboheme said...

Let's not forget this gravy is EXCELLENT with catfish, freezes phenomenally, and reheats in a jiffy for biscuits and gravy (with crumbled hot sausage of course).

Guy Paul said...

This was fun to read.
I remember Lone Star Cafe here in Austin. There were a few locations - I never did like their food much - but I haven't seen them in years.

I make my gravy with sausage drippings. I don't have drippings from the CFS since I deep fry instead of pan fry mine, but the flavor from Owens extra hot sausage with a little extra sage, black pepper and salt makes for a great gravy. Warming the milk a little before you add it does help avoid lumps and you are so right about cooking the roux and using cracked black pepper instead of ground black pepper.
Thanks to you, I'll be eating biscuits and gravy as soon as I get back from the Wal-Mart with my Owen's sausage.

Anonymous said...

I love gravy. Had sausage gravy (with chunks of sausage) at Bob Evans Restaurant in the 70's and saw mill gravy (my guess is your cream gravy) at Cracker Barrel in the 90's and Red Eye Gravy my Dad used to make when frying up ham slices. But I never even thought to try it on fish though.
Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays,
Christine in Ohio

Anonymous said...

Hi, I go by Sniki on the net. I'm a TX & love your recipes. I grew up on all the food here. It just doesn't get any better than CFS & Tex Mex. I first tasted carnitas in Santa Ana CA-wonderful & very like your recipe.

Cream gravy is heaven. I would never eat eggs until my brother's wife put cream gravy on scrambled eggs when I was about 11 yrs old. Her gravy was so creamy & white! Beautiful as well as tasty. The gravy made the eggs bearable for me & now I even like them. LOL

Thank you for sharing your thoughts & recipes.
hugz from a West Texan living in East TX. I'm homesick for the other side of the state!
Sniki

Anonymous said...

I forgot to ask you about a recipe that I am hoping you know. My mom used to make "ham dumplings" from the ham broth after baking a ham. I've found a few recipes that are close but not quite right. When I have time I want to tweek the recipes & see if I can get closer to the taste of mom's.

If you know about ham dumplings please post for me. I will definitely appreciate any help. Thanks
Sniki

Anonymous said...

We were poor when I was growing up (Central Illinois) and gravy was a way to stretch the meat for the family. We had sausage gravy, hamburger gravy, chicken gravy, and chipped beef gravy on toast. To this day, my weakness is pan-fried chicken and gravy. I actually prefer it over torn up wheat bread than potatoes.

Also, for the sausage gravy, to prevent lumps, we left the crumbled sausage in the skillet and coated the pieces with flour before adding the milk.

My sister has taken the gravy gene from our mom. My eyes are always bigger than the skillet and I am more famous for my 'chicken pudding' rather than gravy! :)

Gordon aka Dale said...

oh yeah.....nothing like white cream gravy. I grew up around Irving Texas, and am now in Rockport, Texas on the coast. Even here on the Gulf of Mexico, our favorite topping is still the white cream gravy served all over the state of Texas. If you have nothing else, a bit of chicken broth from a cube is enough to put an artificial flavor when you have no meat.

Joanna said...

The only time I ever saw my dad cook, not counting the bbq, was making his homemade cream gravy. Every sunday we'd make a big breakfast and he'd always do the gravy. We always made bacon and Owen's sage sausage which has a little more spice to it. I think the best cream gravy is made with sausage drippings.

I've watched my dad make this a hundred times but I haven't ever had to make it myself. I hope I can suffice. He never measured and I remember him telling me that him and his siblings made so many batches to get it just right. Growing up during the depression, they buried the bad batches so they wouldn't get a whipping from my grandma for wasting...lol.

rubybean77 said...

We made this gravy with biscuits this morning! FABULOUS! You have such GREAT recipes. I love coming to your site to check out my favorite recipes.

Willy said...

I was born and raised in Oklalhoma but haved lived in Louisiana for 49 years, having at one time lived in West Texas. Cream or sawmill gravy was and is a standby for my family. I even had to teach a bonifide Cajun how to make it as he worked offshore and said they didn't know how. He now makes it on a regular basis when home. My 9 year old grandson has requested that I make him some, but since losing my husband I don't buy the bulk sausage much any more (can't tolerate the spices). Everytime he comes he asks again "Did you buy sausage?" and he is in luck as I did buy some today and already have the meat and flour mix ready when he gets in from school. Son-in-law loves it also. It is goooooooood!!!!!! Anyone that doesn't like it is just good food deprived.-------willy

Anonymous said...

I recently found your website when once again searching for a flour tortilla recipe likes the ones we ate growing up in Corpus Christi Texas. Your's was a close as I have ever come and the whole family enjoyed them, even, as my mom calls him, my "yankee husband". Now I'm reading about cream gravy, we ate it on everything, I had forgotten about eating it on rice as a child. Can't wait to try the chili gravy or tacos or make some chicken fried steak. I live in chicago now and the "Tex Mex" here is more Mex or American than "Tex" and bland bland bland.

Thanks your your recipes and the memories.
T

Anonymous said...

Thanks for the info. I have been living in the Philippines for a few months and have been craving my comfort food from back home in Houston. Now tonight I can enjoy my cream gravy.

Sheena said...

I am also a Homesick Texan. And oh how I miss Chicken Fried Steak. But thanks to your delicious recipe I can make it at home, here in Idaho. Thankyou so much. And I hope you don't mind I posted it on my blog along with a link to yours. Thanks again for your delicious recipes.
http://3sisterssharingideas.blogspot.com

Anonymous said...

Wow. I was looking on the internet to see if I could find out why the last batch of cornbread fell apart that I made tonight. Since then, I have been on here for over an hour looking at all your wonderful recipes. You are a wonderful writer and can truly express yourself and your recipes happy, merry way. Thanks!

jbholder3@hotmail.com said...

Forgot my recipe cards in Nevada and have to make chocolate pie in New Mexico today ... your gram's is almost identical to what I worked out years ago ... but had to check the cream gravy recipe ... just like my sister always made ... and had CFS with the gravy at the Cracker Barrel yesterday (for breakfast) in Albuquerque and was great as always. Thanx for the great web site.

Rick said...

For the most part, California knows nothing of cream gravy. Mostly what we see in eateries is paste with pepper.

One spring day I took a bike ride and ended up seated in a small town diner halfway between the Santa Clarita Valley (my home) and the Pacific ocean - 60 miles. Yes, my rear was sore. I watched plates being shuttled from kitchen to table and saw what looked like the most amazing chicken fried steak and gravy whiz by. The steak was so-so but the gravy was special. I sat down with the owner who was not too keen on sharing her secret but I wore her down - and threatened not to leave until enlightened.

The secret ingredient-- instead of milk she was using sour cream. Sounds sacreligious but lemme just say it really was a bit of heaven.

Ashlie said...

Thanks so much for posting this! (Yeah, a few years late, but I just found it!) I never made gravy until about a month ago when I used your recipe -- my first roux, too! I looked up your recipe again today and had to comment since it was even better today than before. The first time it was super runny, had to cook it down. This time I doubled the flour and oil and it was almost too creamy, but it was phenomenal. Thanks so much, from another homesick Texan.

Anonymous said...

SouthernGurl-
Being from the S.E. U.S of A, I have to say, we too, use this yummy concoction of love to smother everything...it's a staple in every household, from Granny's Sunday Dinner table to a blanket for scrambled eggs...Thanks for sharing your Tex-Mex food roots...I love the taste of Tex mex even more than original Mexican..there's something very earthy and good about Tex-Mex, rather than so hot you can't taste anything after about 3 seconds!

Transplanted to OH said...

I was raised in TX (Ft. Worth), now living in Cleveland, OH. I so miss all of the wonderful Southern favorites that I grew up eating. My Grandma always made the best cream gravy. From what I can tell, your recipe is very similar to hers...the only difference is that, along with lots of black pepper, she always added a touch of sugar. Yum! Especially on rice! OK, now I have to go make some!

Thank you for sharing!

Anonymous said...

I've used recipes on your site a couple times when I was at college in Indiana and wanted something fun to cook up for friends but had went through my cookbooks from at home.
Now I'm living and France and your recipes for things like gravy and biscuits are a lifesaver since I'm having to learn how to many EVERYTHING from scratch (even pancakes are harder without bisquick!)

Thanks for providing great recipes (like "american biscuits" and "that sauce" since there is no french word for gravy) that remind me of home and that allow me to share a bit of Texas with my new European friends!

Mindy said...

Just found your blog and it's bringing back some tasty memories (born and raised in Louisiana, college in Houston, now living in Germany). I remember one of my favorite breakfast treats as a kid actually came from a supermarket deli which served up white gravy with chunks of pan sausage over potato logs--giant Cajun-spiced battered french fries. It was sort of like a combination of chicken fried steak and mashed potatoes.

gene said...

I have three sisters, I can make better cream gravy better either of the, it is as good as moms and dad (who eats it w/ a little Texas Pete) can not tell the difference...me being a simple guy from Tenn that is going some..

Pappa Hobbit said...

Like was said before the best thing for this sort gravy to be served with is a bowl, spoon and a big batch of leave me alone. While I've had some very good country gravies in Texas; the two best country gravies I've ever had were made by my late grandmothers one was German and the other French Canadian

Anonymous said...

Ok so did I tell you that your cream gravy recipe is foolproof? It comes out perfectly every time I make it. I must also you tell that it doesn't last long and I usually catch someone in my household using a lone piece of Mrs. Baird's bread and sopping up the very last little bits. I'd say that's a winner. Wouldn't y'all?

pls1911 said...

This is as perfect recipe as any I've seen published.
A great variation is to use sausage drippings.(one fresh minced jalapeno fired a couple of minutes adds a flavorful little kick too)
I "pre-roast" my flour to a medium brown and set aside.
Then, I deglaze the good stuff from the pan bottom using half a cup of black coffee, then follow the rest of your routine.
Heaven is your fresh biscuits, baptized with this Holy mix!

Alyssa Massingill said...

Thanks for the gravy recipe! I too am a homesick Texan (living in Spain) and introduced my houseful of Spaniards to it. I put mine on toast and bacon, others on fried calamari and croquettes. To each its own! They loved it. What a great taste of home.

jason said...

ahh ty finaly made a good gravy my french inlaws liked it as well on some mashed taters its crazy how many of us texans live away now im from houston area live in the sounth of france 8 long long years now i do go back once a year thou have a grr8 1

icharlotte said...

I just found this post and wanted to let you know that the reason you didnt get cream gravy in Alabama is because we call it "milk gravy". Same recipe, different name. I'm living in TX now and when I made it for my born and bred Texan husband he acted like he didnt know what it was! Come to find out he was raised on the very white kind, while mine looked more like yours. :D

iloverefriedbeans said...

Hello

I'm from an obscure little country called Malaysia. We just had a meal at a restaurant that served us gravy on fries, gravy on mashed 'taters and gravy on biscuits. We liked it a lot but my wife freaked out after the third dish arrived with the same gravy on it. Now i know how to explain what it is, why it ain't brown, and why its on everything! Thanks for your illuminating post.

Mike said...

After reading your post I see why your gravy is brown-ish. My grandmother always told me never to burn the roux. She instructed me to add the milk to the flour just after it stopped foaming and right before it started to brown. Also cooking the gravy in the cast iron skillet will lend a slight brown coloring to it as well. When the flour browns too much you will also get an acidic flavor to the gravy, but if you do it like my grandmother instructed the sweetness of the milk still comes through. LOL my grandmother didn't like fresh ground pepper, it got stuck in her teeth so she always made me use the canned fine pepper. I still use it to this day for family functions.

Kaye said...

As a transplanted Texan (once a Texan always a Texan ), I grew up on my Mom's cream gravy.
Another thing she did to make a "meal" was to fry a jar of chopped chipped beef in the fat (in her case she used butter), mix in the flour, cook that for a while and then add the milk.
I still do this whenever I want something quick and easy for dinner. That's what we are having tonight!
Boy do I miss Texas!!

donny said...

Made your cream gravy, biscuits and chicken fried steak tonight. It was great! Reminds me of my grandmothers. And I am also a "homesick Texan"

Casie said...

you totally saved my morning bland biscuit conundrum!! Thanks!!

Sarah S said...

Amazing! I ran into your site when trying to confirm this morning that I still remember how to make the cream gravy my mother taught me back in Texas, and I'm so glad I found your blog. I always wanted to live in New England, but I didn't realize how much I'd miss the food I grew up on. Your collection of recipes with the Texas spin are just what I've been longing for. Thank you!

Barbara | Creative Culinary said...

I haven't made a cream gravy in years until today. As much as it saddens me that my daughter Lauren wasn't here today, there were some benefits.

Giblet cream gravy with a touch of sherry. She turns her nose up at giblets so I defer each year and make what she likes.

Now I'm going upstairs with my bowl of giblet soup...err, gravy. (OK I won't, but I could.)

lacey said...

Thank you so much for this recipe! My grandmother made it in a cast iron skillet when i was a little girl. I have the best memories watching her make her gravy and eating it with biscuits. I never learned how to make it and regreted to get it from her before she passed away. I was so excited when i found it on here!

Lone Star Mama said...

Hello. My name is Christine and I am a Texan who cannot make cream gravy. I watched my mom make it on a weekly basis, but never made it on my own. Nowadays, my husband makes such a killer gravy that I've always just left it to him (along with the chicken friend steak). Perhaps it's finally time to pick up the cast iron skillet...

Thanks for making it look so easy!!!

Anonymous said...

when I was growing up in Tennessee, my mother fried bacon, used the bacon drippings to fry eggs for Daddy, and made cream gravy from the drippings that I ate over plain white bread. Mother always said she couldn't make good biscuits so they were not part of the scenario.

Cristy said...

Great post! I love gravy. My dad taught me how to make it. We would make cutlets from the backstrap of deer fry them up and make gravy. Now that was heaven.

Also I always use butter when I don't have pan drippings on hand.

Rich said...

I grew up in the Chicago area, where chicken fried steak and cream gravy are not even on the radar. And it's usually with sausage cream gravy which I don't care for. I finally got down to Texas in 2008 and had a great chicken fried steak with sausage-less cream gravy in San Antonio. This past weekend, I had chicken fried steak 4 times (at 4 different places) in Tulsa and Vinita, Oklahoma. All great and all with a cream/milk gravy. I can't wait to make it at home soon. Thanks for sharing!

Yvette said...

I'm surprised by how many say they were in California and couldn't find cream gravy and met people who don't know what it is. Cream Gravy is a main gravy at many of our diners including IHOP and Denny's. Biscuits and gravy is on almost every menu here no matter where you are in California. And more than half of California are from else where in the country and probably grew up on cream gravy. I've lived here for 42 years and never met a person who didn't know what it was and I have never gone to a diner here that didn't serve it with biscuits or chicken fried steak.

Anonymous said...

Born and raised (ok reared) in South Texas, except for 8 years and 3 Submarines, ain't left. Those were 8 awful Texas food missing years. BBQ, TEX-MEX, and CHICKEN FRIED STEAKS deprived years. To me, putting cheese on tacos was a sad Yankee or Californian horror.
Anyway thanks for the grand article.
MARCH 6 1836 never forget!!!!
Trav
Tr.a

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