I could tell immediately from the dialogue that this was a play adaptation, and I was right. The movie portrays the funeral of the patriarch of an extremely dysfunctional family, set in the desolate plains of Oklahoma. The cast (including Meryl Streep, Julia Roberts, Benedict Cumberbatch, and Juliette Lewis) acted the crap out of some very dark and intense material - addiction, depression, suicide, abuse, and incest. This is not a feel good movie (you know it's bad when incest is the best scenario), but it is very good and it will make you think.
As for the food inspiration - there was a ton! Many of the most tortured scenes revolved around food, including the horrible funeral dinner and the infamous "eat the fish!" scene. The moment that I was drawn to was Meryl Streep's character talking about her last interaction with her husband over biscuits and gravy. She must have said the phrase "biscuits and gravy" ten times. I'm not even that big a fan of biscuits and gravy, but that was what I wanted to make.
I wanted to make something special, not basic, so I went to Pinterest thinking I would find an herbed biscuit recipe or something. But what came up were a ton of recipes for biscuits and gravy casseroles. I had never heard of that before and it sounded awesome! Some were just biscuits, gravy, and cheese; but I liked the look of one that included eggs (kind of like a strata).
Most of the recipes used canned biscuits, and I thought that that made sense - why go through the effort of homemade biscuit dough if you are going to cover it up with a bunch of stuff in the bottom of a casserole? So I went that route, but you can certainly go with homemade if you wish.
What I did want to make from scratch was the gravy. The recipe I was looking at used powdered gravy mix, and I am not a fan of that.
So - brown some breakfast sausage in a pan, then add flour and stir until it is absorbed.
Then, add milk and allow to simmer until thickened. This will take a while (10-15 minutes), make sure to keep stirring.
Keep stirring until your desired thickness is reached. Just like a bechamel, it should be thick enough to coat the back of a spoon and leave a distinct line if you drag your finger through the coating.
Quarter the biscuits and lay them into a buttered dish (shown above), then pour the gravy over them and top with shredded white cheddar.
Mix together eggs and milk (I used cream, because I had some extra hanging around), and pour over the cheese.
Cover with foil and bake for 45 min to an hour, until the eggs are set. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before cutting and serving.
As I mentioned, I'm not actually a huge fan of biscuits and gravy, but this casserole is sooooooo good. It is super creamy and the biscuits absorb the gravy to become like dumplings, plus the eggs and cheese mellow out the spiciness of the sausage (one of the reasons I'm not fond of sausage). So it all comes together into this beautiful thing that I am now obsessed with.
1 package mild or spicy breakfast sausage
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
4 cups whole milk
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
1 can Pillsbury Grands Biscuits
1 1/2 cup shredded white cheddar cheese (1 6oz bag)
1/2 cup whole milk (or cream)
1/2 tsp seasoned salt
Preheat oven to 350 deg F. Butter a 9x13 pan.
Tear off small pieces of sausage (best to do this with your hands) and add them in a single layer to a large heavy skillet over medium-high heat. Cook until no longer pink, then reduce the heat to medium-low. Sprinkle half of the flour over the sausage and stir to absorb, then add the rest. Cook, while stirring, for another minute or so; then pour in the milk, stirring constantly.
Cook the gravy, stirring frequently, until it begins to thicken. (This may take a good 10 to 12 minutes.) Sprinkle in the seasoned salt and continue cooking until thick enough to coat a spoon. Taste and adjust the seasoning. (If it gets too thick, loosen with a bit of milk.)
Cut the biscuits into quarters and line the bottom of the buttered pan. Pour the gravy over the biscuits, then sprinkle the cheese on top.
Whisk the eggs and milk with the seasoned salt and pour over the cheese layer.
Cover with foil and bake in the preheated oven for 30 minutes. Remove the foil and cook for another 15-30 minutes (45-60 min total), until the eggs are set. Allow to cool for 10-15 minutes before serving.
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