Comfort food for Jon

biscuits in a sheet pan ready to eat

Jon is moving to Santa Barbara tomorrow, so I thought I’d make a fancy breakfast for him this weekend.  I had gotten a hold of a small organic ham last week, which I roasted next to some oven home fries, made by dicing taters, tossing on a sheet pan with plenty of olive oil and some S&P, rubbing them all around, and then roasting in a very hot convection oven. 

Oven hash browns in blue dish

Oven hash browns/home fries

 I perpetrated buttermilk biscuits and sausage gravy, too.  Making sausage gravy is easy and provides great comfort.  You need:  some kind of sausage – any kind without anise, so don’t use Italian.  Cooked is OK, raw is OK.  I use about a pound.  If raw and with fat, i.e., breakfast sausage, brown in a heavy gauge saucepan and, when done, add butter so you have about a half a cup of fat.  If you use raw sausage meat with no fat, like that horrible turkey sausage, brown in a 1/2 cup of canola oil or butter — but butter is better.  If you have cooked sausage, cut into little cubes and fry in said quantity of butter.  Add 1 tablespoon of some combination of ground thyme, rosemary and sage.  Continue to fry for a moment to open up the dried spices.  Toss in a bay leaf or two.  Add some Kosher salt and pepper – quantities depending upon  how salty the sausage is.  Add 1/2 cup or so of AP flour – stirring it in so you have a soft roux, adding more fat if the mixture is too dry.  Don’t brown the roux – keep the flame very low but be sure to cook out the raw flour.  Warm 5 – 6 cups of milk (fat free is fine, but if you use fat free everything you will strangle all the comfort out of the dish) in the microwave.  Add the milk to the roux slowly while stirring with a wooden spoon.  I find that adding it in increments that are blended in completely cuts down on lumps.  Cook to just bubbling over lowest flame, stirring frequently.  Note that this will keep getting thicker, so if you plan on heating it up again to serve later, make sure you under-thicken it ever so slightly the first time around.  Serve this hot mass over toast or split biscuits.  At the last minute I made eggs to order for the group in my new GreenPan.  Yes, it does not stick at all when you use a little oil, but it does stick a bit if you don’t.  Eggs are the ultimate test of a pan in this regard. 

Jon and Matthew diving into a comforting breakfast at the dining table

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