Submitted by Don Doman.
I admit it. I’m a biscuit snob. I love biscuits and gravy, but whenever I visit restaurants I mostly order a substitution of sourdough toast for the biscuits. Restaurant biscuits are pretty much uniformly . . . well, just not up to much.
Now, I do give restaurants the benefit of the doubt. The first time I order B&G from a new restaurant, I will take the biscuits. This is just in case there are excellent biscuits in the general population getting by my taste buds. So, far this screening process has yet to produce golden biscuits worthy of the name, but, some come close. I like the huge biscuits of Pacific Southern on South Pine and the Flotation Device in Purdy.
I grew up eating wonderful biscuits at home, but most Americans never had a taste of biscuits until 1973 when McDonald’s introduced them with their breakfast menu. My wife and I make wonderful biscuits as does my oldest son. Mine are absolutely perfect. My wife prefers her version because they are smaller. She uses a small juice glass to cut out her biscuits, while I like the larger size of a 16 oz. tumbler. Peg’s biscuits also don’t stand as high as mine. Plus she tends to overcook her biscuits . . . in my opinion. Of course, my wife disagrees with me. All these homemade biscuit differences are only slight compared to commercial products.
The strange thing about biscuits, however, is the fact that three fast-food restaurants produce good tasting biscuits. McDonald’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken, and Popeye’s Chicken & Biscuits consistently serve biscuits that are not only worthy of honey, or butter and jam, but also gravy. I’m sure they are shipped frozen.
My order of preference are: Popeye, McDonald’s and KFC. Popeye’s is a recent addition to my favorite places. I stopped in at the restaurant on Sixth Avenue and ordered chicken and biscuits. The chicken didn’t do anything for me, but the biscuits were warm and greasy. I love the sausage biscuits at McDonald’s and the only thing wrong with KFC biscuits is the nearly tasteless brown gravy, which should never come closer than a foot or two from their biscuits. At Popeye’s you can order a side of their Cajun gravy, which goes really well with the biscuits.
I would have guessed that the Popeye Biscuits were higher in fat, and they were, but only marginally. The Popeye Biscuits were substantially lower in sodium, but otherwise the three were neck and neck within most nutrition categories.
The KFC Biscuits were 220 calories, while both Popeye and McDonald’s weighed in at 240 calories. Biscuits are not diet food, but of the three only Popeye’s was the best without added butter or jam. With gravy, we have a different story. What would be best would be for me to make my own sausage and milk gravy. Even bad biscuits taste better with great gravy on them. Of course, my idea of a perfect breakfast is biscuits and gravy with hash browns (cooked crusty and brown with onions), fried eggs, sausage links and patties . . . and bacon. I just can’t eat that every day, however. It has to be a special day.
Good gravy locally is hard to find. The earmarks of bad gravy? I hate gravy mixes, thin gravy, and gravy with no meat in it or little tiny chopped pieces of ham, and no seasoning. Basically, good gravy starts out with cooking sausage in a black iron skillet. Shove the cooked sausage to the side, which should leave a pool of grease in the middle of the pan and then dispense gravy from a sifter into the grease. The longer you let flour sit in the hot skillet the browner it will become and the darker your gravy will be. I like to take a big spoon and start stirring the flour as I mix in the milk. Add salt, pepper, garlic powder, a little smoky paprika and then keep mixing in flour and milk until you have twice as much gravy as you think you need. It would be rare to have left over good gravy.
When visiting the Harvester on North Tacoma Avenue, Ben Dew’s on Sixth Avenue, Burr’s on Steilacoom Blvd., or the Pine Cone on 27th St. E. I sometimes just place an order for sausage links or toast, coffee, and a cup of gravy. A good cheap breakfast . . . and tasty.
Alfred’s on Puyallup Avenue has a chorizo gravy I like. Pacific Southern has a good tan colored gravy. Metro Market has excellent gravy in their breakfast hot bar. It is gravy that needs to be chewed. Forget their biscuits, however. What I can’t forget is the price. It somehow offends me to pay $10 a pound for gravy. But in the past I have stopped at MacDonald’s and bought two sausage biscuits and then gone to Metro Market for gravy. I’ve been a happy camper in their parking lot many times eating breakfast combined from multiple sources.
I think for next Father’s Day I will ask for sides of gravy and hash browns from my two favorite gravy restaurants in Tacoma (Old Milwaukee on Sixth Avenue and Knapp’s in the Proctor District) and a bag of biscuits from Popeye’s . . . okay, don’t spare the eggs and pork, either.
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