Appalachian Breakfast

Updated: May 6, 2021

Nothing warms my heart, mind, and soul like southern style gravy. No one, in my opinion, can master the art of gravy making quite like those that hail from the mountains. On the menu this morning is bacon gravy. Ah, yes... Bacon Gravy!


Every restaurant you go to for breakfast, it's all about sausage gravy. I will never understand why because I am not a huge fan of sausage gravy. It's ok, but it can not, nor will it ever, be able to hold a candle to bacon gravy. Don't get me wrong, it's satisfactory. What I mean is, it doesn't haunt your dreams in the waking hours of the morning. You don't long for it. There is nothing about it that overtakes your senses. It just simply is, and you are forever more reminded of what it is not, bacon gravy.


It is the smell that captivates you first


[inhales deeply] "Aaaaaahhhhhhhh" [smiles contently]


My maternal Grandmother, thank God, hailed from the very top of the Appalachian mountains and she was the living embodiment of all things good and holy. When she finally came off the mountain to live out her life in my rural town, she carried with her all of the fond memories of her life and the awesome recipes she learned to master over time. She would rise before the break of day and after reading 12-14 chapters of the KJV bible, she would make a breakfast so good it would make you want to go home and slap your momma (figuratively speaking, of course). Oh the smell... The smells coming from her kitchen in the early morning hours would wake you from sleep knowing full well in your heart, you were going to have the blessed of all days. Even into adulthood, when I no longer spent the night at her house; when she would call to invite me to breakfast, forget whatever plans I may have had for the weekend, I was there at seven am sharp. You could almost smell that bacon gravy through the phone and come hail or high water, count me there.


Breakfast of champions


"Surely you aren't full yet"


She prepared a full spread and made it look so easy. Scratch biscuits, bacon, bacon gravy, eggs, toast with jelly, orange juice, coffee, the works. She would continue to pile your plate full again and again as you struggled to stuff it in, smiling and insisting you could eat more and more. "You've worked so hard all week, surely you aren't full yet. Here have some more gravy". Gran wouldn't even sit down to eat with you until you were halfway through. Grans were like that, always at the ready to serve others and put their needs last. A lesson that didn't go unnoticed, I paid attention.


Practice, Practice, Practice


"It's easy, you can do it"


I paid as close attention as I could and asked her time and again about making gravy. Grans are only with us for a time and we need to process and master what we can so we can carry on their traditions and lessons and remember them fondly as we do the things they've done so well and for so long. It took me many years to master the art of gravy making. I remember my first attempt. I was about 18 years old and wanted to cook breakfast for my Dad. Oh the smell woke him up for sure but when he came into the kitchen, a look crossed his face. A mixture of concern and sadness. He only said "I'm not eating that". hahahahaha I don't blame him, I didn't either. Since then, I have learned from my mistakes. I know full well, my bacon gravy still can't hold a candle to Gran's. My Aunt Pam, her daughter, has mastered it. I'm still practicing, but I must say, on this lazy December morning, I did ok. I'm getting there, it is edible and quite good. Dad wouldn't have turned it down this morning, I guarantee that.


Let's get cooking


I'll cover Cathead biscuits in another post. As I said, it's a lazy December morning, and I used the canned style biscuits (large ones). I know, I know... That's probably why I am slightly less satisfied. This will serve 6. Anyway, here is what you will need:


Tools:

  • Skillet for bacon gravy

  • Whisk

  • Table spoon

  • Measuring glass. You may want one for the milk. For this, I use my instincts.

  • Pan for biscuits

  • Skillet for eggs

Food:

  • 1 pack of bacon (or at least 8 slices)

  • Flour (2 or more tablespoons)

  • Milk about 2 cups

  • Biscuits

  • Eggs, toast, jelly, butter (for eggs and/or toast), coffee, orange juice and/or whatever else you want for breakfast :)

I got the biscuits ready and placed them on a pan and preheated the oven. They take about 18 minutes or so, so I waited till later to pop them in. I opted not to cook the bacon in a cast iron skillet for this. Mainly because gravy is messy so I chose a large non-stick skillet. Cook the whole pack of uncured bacon in the skillet on medium heat. *Do Not Toss The Grease. If you are cooking for two, you can make this with about 8 strips of bacon and 2 tablespoons of flour and 2 cups of milk. I made the above gravy with 8 strips of bacon and it was good but it didn't smell or taste quite like Gran's. I know she used a whole pack of bacon because she was usually cooking for a crowd. It was still very much delicious though.


While the bacon cooks you can prepare the eggs. Cook whatever style you want and use how many eggs you want according to how many people you are cooking for. This morning, I made scrambled eggs. I was cooking for two so I used five eggs. Crack them in a cup and lightly beat them with a fork. Grab a non-stick skillet and melt a couple of tablespoons of butter. Once melted, pour in the eggs and as they cook, break them up and flip them over. This is how you make delicious, fluffy, perfect scrambled eggs. Set the bacon and eggs aside and cover to keep warm. I set the bacon onto some paper towels to take off some of the grease. Pop the biscuits in the oven.


Now for the gravy


While the grease is still hot (on medium heat) add a few tablespoons of flour and whisk it into the grease. Keep whisking until it turns good and brown (add flour if needed). You don't want lumps, keep whisking. Turn down the heat to low or medium low, and slowly add in the milk. Keep whisking, use your judgement, you may want to turn up the heat a little. Be careful not to scorch your gravy just keep whisking until it thickens. You don't want it runny, you want a good thick gravy but not too thick. Also, keep an eye on those biscuits.


I know, I know


My bacon is slightly too done. The picture doesn't do it justice though, it wasn't burnt, just a little dark. I'm just not as great at photography as I'd like to be. The eggs were nice and fluffy and the biscuits and gravy was nothing short of tasty yumminess. This goes great with a tall glass of orange juice and a nice long nap after. Add a little salt and pepper to taste. I don't add it when I'm cooking this recipe because to each his own according to their preferences. Bacon is salty enough anyway but you will probably want to add a little S&P to your gravy and eggs.


I hope you give this recipe a try and master the art of gravy. It is a skill needed if you hope to claim the title of a true southern cook. Of course, all gravy is fattening, it is made of grease after all. So if you are on a diet, have health problems, maybe skip this one, or cook at your own risk. It's not something I have all the time but I do crave it on occasion and it never disappoints. It's ok to treat yourself now and then and if you work hard, it won't go to the thighs. If you have never tasted bacon gravy, don't hesitate. Ditch the tired sausage gravy and give this a try. No regrets. It is what hopes and dreams are made of.


Thanks for reading and I hope you have a blessed day.

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