Memories From The Past
Biscuits and Gravy
Papaw dearly loved Mamaw’s biscuits and gravy. Mamaw’s biscuits and gravy were different than what we make today. Mamaw made her biscuits with lard and her gravy from fat back.
She would pour flour from a Red Band® bag into her mixing bowl,
add baking soda and scoop out a healthy spoon full of Clover® brand lard
from a 1-gallon tin bucket and cut the lard into the flour with a fork.
She would add Pet® buttermilk and mix, adding more buttermilk or
flour until she had a dough that suited her fancy.
She would then turn out the dough onto a well floured counter top
and roll out the dough with a rolling pin.
She cut the biscuit rounds using a tin biscuit cutter with a loop
handle. The biscuit cutter
was well worn, with areas where the zinc coating was worn away, but it did
not rust because the lard in the dough kept the metal coated.
Her biscuits were cooked on a tin biscuit sheet in a green and
ivory coal stove oven until around 1950 when she bought a Norge-Kelvinator®
electric stove from Montgomery Wards.
To make the gravy, she would cut thick slices of fat back from a
large chunk. Why it is called
fat back, I don’t know. Fat back is from the lower part of a pig’s belly.
First comes the bacon, well streaked with lean meat.
Next comes streaked meat, the mid-portion of the pig’s belly, not
quite lean enough for bacon. Good
seasoning meat for beans and greens.
Finally the fat back, probably called this as it sounds more
appetizing that pig’s belly. All
three portions were salt cured and sometimes smoked.
Mamaw would fry the slices of fat back in a cast iron skillet until
they were crisp. She removed
the fat back from the skillet and made a roué by adding flour to the
grease and cooking this to a darkness she preferred for the gravy.
Next she added milk, stirring constantly, bringing the mixture to a
boil, adding more milk to adjust the gravy to the consistency she wanted.
She seemed to have the biscuits and gravy timing down to an art.
She would remove the biscuits from the oven and pour the gravy from
the skillet into a white china bowl.
She placed the biscuits on a plate, setting the plate on the table
in easy reach of Papaw. She
then put a spoon in the gravy. The
spoon would stand straight up, even though the gravy would be steaming
hot. This bowl was also
placed on the table in easy reach of Papaw.
Papaw would spoon out a large gob of gravy onto his plate.
He would then take a biscuit and break it in half, use his fork to
cut off a slice of the gravy and spread it on his biscuit.
This he would then eat, washing it down with a large sip of JFG®
No matter how I tried, I could never develop a taste for fat back
gravy. I’ll take sausage
gravy, ham gravy, tenderloin gravy, chicken gravy, beef gravy, even tomato
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