LITTLE ROCK, Ark. — True Charleston Biscuits are tiny biscuits compared to those to which we are accustomed. Delicious, meant to be eaten in one bite, they are typically served with ham for ladies brunches or similar events. 

Using the same easy-to-make biscuit dough, we’re making up a batch of “Arkansas” breakfast biscuits, meant to be more than a mouthful!

Unlike many biscuit recipes where the fat (butter, lard, shortening) is used while it is very cold, this dough uses room temperature butter and cream cheese.

To make soft-sided biscuits, place the biscuits close together on the baking sheet; their sides should be just touching. For biscuits with a crisp crust, space them 1" apart.

For more biscuit making tips and tricks, see Dining With Debbie.

It always surprises me when someone asks me how to make gravy. Sausage gravy is a Southern staple and I think I was born knowing how to make it. My dad was the sausage gravy maker in our family, and he made sure I knew how to make it.

The real secret behind sausage gravy is in both the sausage and in the way it is cooked.  The sausage used in this dish should be of good quality (such as Petit Jean Meats) and preferably have a good percentage of fat.

This gravy does not use equal parts fat to flour like a roux.

I think a whisk is essential as are low heat and patience.

Sausage Gravy

Ingredients

▪    1 pound breakfast sausage (hot or mild)

▪    1/3 (about) cup Wondra (or all-purpose flour)

▪    4 cups milk

▪    Salt and pepper to taste

Tear sausage into small pieces and add them in a single layer to a large heavy skillet. Brown the sausage over medium-low heat until no longer pink. Reduce the heat to medium-low.* Sprinkle on half the flour and stir so that the sausage soaks it all up, then add a little more until just before the sausage looks too dry. Stir it around and cook it for another minute or so, then pour in the milk, whisking constantly. 

Cook the gravy, stirring frequently until it thickens. (This may take a good 10-12 minutes.) Sprinkle in the seasoned salt and pepper and continue cooking until very thick and luscious. If it gets too thick, just whisk in more milk as needed. Taste and adjust seasonings.

Spoon sausage gravy over warm biscuits and serve immediately!\

*You may remove the sausage and drain, reserving fat if you prefer. Return the sausage to the skillet after flour and milk have been whisked together.

Charleston Biscuits

Ingredients

•    4 cups White Lily Self-Rising Flour, plus more flour for dusting (Must be White Lily!)

•    8 Tablespoons butter cut in small cubes and at room temperature

•    1/2 cup cream cheese, room temperature

•    1 1/2 cups buttermilk, approximately

•    2 tablespoons melted butter for brushing tops of biscuits

Directions: 

Preheat the oven to 500 degrees with rack in the middle position.

Place 4 cups flour in a very large mixing bowl.

Sprinkle the butter cubes on top of the flour. Use your fingers, work in the butter until the mixture resembles cottage cheese.

Add in room temperature cream cheese and work it into the flour by pressing it between finger tips, leaving chunks of cream cheese rather than completely incorporated.

Make a well in the center. Pour in buttermilk.

Use your hands or a rubber spatula to mix the buttermilk into the flour. Do not overwork the dough. This should result in a wet and dough. Do not be tempted to add in too much extra flour.

Sprinkle work surface with flour. Dump the dough onto the floured work surface being sure to scrape all of the dough from the bowl. Do not knead the dough.

Using your hands, gently press the dough to 3/4-1 inch thick. You may also use a rolling pin, gently rolling to desired thickness.

Flour a 2-inch round biscuit cutter. Press the cutter straight down into the dough and straight back up. Do not twist. Repeat, cutting as many biscuits as you can.

Gather remaining dough scraps and cut additional biscuits.

Place biscuits on a parchment-lined baking sheet with the sides of the biscuits touching. If space remains in the pan, use excess dough to create a "snake" that can be pressed next to the edges of the outer biscuits.

Brush the tops with melted butter. Place in oven and immediately reduce oven temp to 450 degrees. Bake 16 to 18 minutes, rotating the pan one time during baking.