Cat-Head Biscuits with Tomato Gravy from 'Around the Southern Table'

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[Photograph: Jennifer Davick]

To many cooks, gravy is a sauce best served over Thanksgiving turkey or maybe the occasional roast chicken. In the South, gravy is used to "smother" everything from fried chicken and pork chops to sweet Vidalia onions and the perennial favorite: buttery biscuits. In Around the Southern Table, Rebecca Lang combines salty and rich bacon drippings with diced tomatoes and a slight pour of milk for this gravy.

The tomatoes brighten the whole shebang, but the bacon drippings keep things from getting too virtuous. The biscuits? Lang's are ginormous "cat-heads," made with a dead-simple mixture of self-rising flour, bacon drippings, butter, and buttermilk. Save the bacon from rendering your drippings and you'll have a righteous take on a breakfast sandwich.

Why I picked this recipe: Biscuits and gravy is a classic gut-busting meal that often sits a little too heavy on my stomach to be enjoyable for more than a few bites. This version seemed like the perfect compromise between rich (bacon drippings) and earthy-sweet (tomatoes).

What worked: The combination of rich bacon fat, buttery biscuits, and bright tomatoes made this twist on a classic brunch dish scream breakfast BLT (minus that silly L).

What didn't: Is it just me or is peeling tomatoes a huge pain? Next time, I'll skip that step and just remove the seeds.

Suggested tweaks: Should you want to make this dish vegetarian, you could substitute butter for the bacon drippings in both the gravy and the biscuits. Late winter tomatoes worked just fine here since they're basically cooked to mush, but should you want to skip the produce aisle, a couple cups of drained canned tomatoes would work fine. For 7 tablespoons of bacon drippings, you'll need to cook 12 ounces to a pound of bacon. Self-rising White Lily is the ideal flour to use here, but if you can't find it, any self-rising blend will work fine.

As always with our Cook the Book feature, we have five (5) copies of Around the Southern Table to give away this week.

About the author: Kate Williams is a freelance writer out of Berkeley, CA. She is a contributor to The Oxford American, Berkeleyside NOSH, and blogs at cookingwolves.wordpress.com.

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