Friday, December 17, 2010

Biscuits and Gravy--Veganized, Y'all


I wanted to title this entry Coming In For La Roux [pun on La Roux' "In For The Kill" and the fact that this gravy requires making a roux, but then I realized some of my puns are a little too obscure].
Admittedly, as an Eastern European, my knowledge of Southern cooking is shaky, but everyone loves biscuits and gravy. I usually make black-eyed peas as well [I chalk up my incredibly bad luck/lack of getting lucky? to the fact that I have yet to eat black beans or wear red underwear on New Year's Day]. And trust me--this gravy is truly ridiculously good-tasting--I stand behind it firmly, Titan-like. My struggles with making the perfect gravy have been especially monumental because of my hatred of fat [more on this in later entries] so while my attempts to make this the way I currently do would cause true gravy purveyors much consternation, you are now receiving the fruits of many a lumpy gravy labor. I should also probably mention that unlike some other *cough, cough* rather annoying food bloggers whose constant paeans to their blissful domestic life cause them to post servings large enough for the entire Chinese nation, I cook for one or two people at most so my ingredient sizes do not require you to go to the grocery store and purchase a bison.

Now, the two *CRUCIAL* things to making a good vegetarian gravy are nutritional yeast and fresh sage. Anything less would be uncivilized! Nutritional yeast, admittedly, does not sound too appetizing, but it is what gives the gravy its main delicious flavor. Before you become repulsed, consider this--Vegemite is also yeast-based. Oh, wait, maybe that didn't help much... Fresh sage is what gives it that savory flavor.

For the gravy, you will need:
half a white onion, chopped
mushrooms [button is fine]--about one 8 oz. pack
1/2 C nutritional yeast
4 T vegan margarine
1/2 C whole wheat flour
1C warm water
Worcestershire sauce
Tamari or any soy sauce
5-6 leaves of fresh sage

In a separate pan, saute the onion and mushrooms on medium heat. Do not cook to death, but onion has to be soft and mushrooms kind of cooked.
In another pan, start getting the roux going. Melt the margarine and add in the whole flour, stir, and cook until it has a lovely brown color. Add in the nutritional yeast and continue stirring--all on moderate heat. Add the tamari or soy sauce and the Worcestershire sauce--I am awful with the measuring, but I assure you, Mario Batali does not measure, yo. Just basically do a generous splashing of both. Oh, and make certain you don't have one of those ratty Worcestershire sauces with high-fructose corn syrup in them--read the labels, my friends! Finally, julienne several leaves of sage and throw that in there. Cook all of this a good amount of time--10/15 mins. at least. Then add the onion/mushroom mix and cook all of that for maybe 5-10 mins. longer. Salt + pepper.
In the mean time, get the biscuits going. I used a fairly standard Southern biscuit recipe except I make mine with whole wheat flour:

1 C whole wheat flour [you can use white too]
1 t baking powder
1/4 t baking soda
1/2 t salt
3T vegan margarine
1/2C-3/4 C low-fat buttermilk [this varies based on how your dough is doing--it should be stiff but not so dry that it resembles pie crust]. For the vegan version, use unsweetened almond milk.
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
In a large mixing bowl, combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Using your fingertips, rub butter into dry ingredients until mixture looks like crumbs. Make a well in the center and pour in the chilled buttermilk. Stir just until the dough comes together. I drop them by the spoonfuls on a baking sheet, but you can also roll them out. Bake maybe 10-15 mins.

Boil some water in a pot, throw in some cleaned fresh green beans. Cook for 5 minutes max and then shock them by putting them in icy cold water with some ice in it [to preserve a really nice green color].

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