Southern Milk Sauce – Now Habersham

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Sauce and cookies. It’s a southern thing. When I was growing up our day started with my mom’s breakfast for our family of six. It consisted of eggs, bacon, homemade cookies and gravy. All. Alone. Morning.

All the girls were trying to get ready for school in a bathroom. Chaos! But my mom expected us to all sit down and have breakfast before we left for school. I wish I had appreciated his efforts then as I certainly would now.

She always made the cookie dough, rolled it out and cut it into perfectly round circles the night before. The smell of preparing breakfast and the delicious taste of his efforts the next morning were probably less appreciated than they should have been. Only if she was still there.

When we visited the family farm in Tennessee after my mom left us, there was nothing my dad liked better than when my husband was making breakfast. He knew I had married a great cook. He asked for the sauce to be fair, neither too thick nor too thin. Fortunately, my husband mastered this technique.

A southern tradition

Read the words “cookies and gravy” and an image of buttery puff cookies topped with a decadent creamy sauce and sprinkled with sausage comes to mind. You can find a version of the dish served in restaurants and cafes, truck stops, fast food outlets, and even white-tablecloth restaurants across the country – not just in the South, its birthplace. If you have any doubts about the popularity of the dish, just take a look in the frozen food aisle of your local grocery store.

The indulgent meal, enjoyed by people from all walks of life, is now a staple in the fabric of American breakfast and brunch culture. But its start was decidedly modest.

Biscuits and gravy in one form or another can be traced back to the late 1800s. Lumber was one of the major industries in the southern Appalachians, confirming the history that sausage sauce was also called sawmill sauce. It was the perfect, inexpensive, high-calorie fuel for sawmill workers lifting heavy logs all day, and the perfect tool to make cookies of the time tastier.

Today, the sauce is still in demand for breakfast, no matter what you call it.

Ingredients

1 tbsp of vegetable oil

2 tablespoons of bacon fat or butter

2 heaped tablespoons of flour

1 and 1/2 cup whole milk

1/2 teaspoon of black pepper

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 tsp paprika

* A pinch of salt if using butter instead of bacon fat

instructions

Heat the fat and oil in a cast iron skillet over medium heat. Add the flour and whisk to make a street.

Whisk until the flour begins to turn golden. Add a cup of milk and whisk constantly to smooth out any lumps. Slightly increase the heat until the sauce begins to bubble.

If the sauce is too thick, add a little more milk and continue whisking. Add the seasonings.

Lower the heat to low and continue to whisk until ready to serve.

The sauce is delicious on scrambled eggs and cookies. My husband also makes the sauce to serve over rice with fried chicken and other vegetables.

It’s so good, it’s going to make you want to slap your mom, which is another Southern expression for mighty delicious.

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