Bacon, Biscuits, and Gravy and Ma Gets Her Hands Dirty

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“She moved back to the stove and dumped the big pan of bulbous biscuits on two tin plates. She shook flour into the deep grease to make gravy, and her hand was white with flour. For a moment Tom watched her, and then he went to the door.”  From The Grapes of Wrath by John Steinbeck

I hadn’t known that you could make gravy out of the grease left after cooking bacon. I guess because America is so fat conscious, (what’s that you said, McDonald’s?  The Quarter-Pounder is on sale?) we view this as being a thoroughly unhealthy meal, but it sure did taste good.  Tom Joad agreed as he wolfed down his first home cooked meal in 4 years.

Biscuits and Bacon Gravy

Drop Biscuits baked according to your favorite recipe (I always consult The Joy of Cooking for this one)

1/4 lb of bacon 

About 1 tbsp of flour

About 2 cups of liquid (milk, or water, or a combination of the two)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Cook the bacon and remove to drain on a paper towel.  While the grease is still hot, whisk in the flour and cook for a few minutes, you are basically making a bacon grease roux.  Slowly whisk in your liquids and salt and pepper and cook until you achieve the desired gravy thickness.  This gravy will be lumpy anyway, so I crumbled up some bacon to add a little flavor and crunch. Split your biscuits in half and ladle your gravy over them.  Add some bacon to the plate and you have your own tasty little heart attack waiting to happen.  

I only made a quarter of my bacon, because I live alone.  If you made the whole pound, you’d want to increase the flour and liquid accordingly.

A few notes about saving money.  There are all kinds of generic brand foods that are just as tasty as the name brands.  There are also some foods you just cannot skimp on.  I have learned that coffee is one and boxed macaroni and cheese is another (Annie’s is good, but Kraft is “the cheesiest.”)  I probably had learned and forgotten that bacon is also something you never want to skimp on.  I fell for the tricky “Sale $3.99” sign this time and regretted it as soon as I opened my package and saw that my “side meat” was almost entirely side fat.  Lesson (re)learned.  You can save a lot of money buying generic foods and cooking with bacon grease instead of throwing it out, but don’t torture yourself.  Spend that extra dollar and get the good bacon.



Filed under Books, Cheaper Cooking, Cooking and Reading, Food, Grapes of Wrath, John Steinbeck, Literature, Recipes, The Great Depression

3 responses to “Bacon, Biscuits, and Gravy and Ma Gets Her Hands Dirty

  1. Pssst! Tomato gravy is divine and uses bacon bits and grease as its underpinnings. (It could be called bacon-and-tomato gravy, I guess.)

    And the best way to cook bacon – even the cheap stuff – is in the oven. Put it on a rack on top of a cookie sheet or broiler pan, sprinkle it with a bit of brown sugar and coarse black pepper and cook at 400 for about 20 minutes. You can still keep the grease drippings when you’re done, although they will have a tinge of sweetness.

  2. I do love pan-fried bacon but you have to watch it just so carefully to get it just so crispy. Oven cooking sounds more hands off and simple. Also, I have had pancetta in my tomato sauce and bacon sounds just as tasty.

    Thanks for reading my blog and passing on the advice!

  3. Daniel F Pushman

    If you sharecropped 40 acres, eating bacon gravy was just fuel you burned keeping you behind the plow. God bless Ma Joad and Grandma Joad!

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