Sauced: Tomato Gravy


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[Photographs: Joshua Bousel]

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While down in Alabama for the Decatur Riverfest barbecue competition this past fall, my hosts from Kingsford brought the team to the local mainstay City Cafe for a breakfast of champions—biscuits and gravy. This wasn't any biscuits and gravy though, it was a full-on Southern gravy tasting with four different offerings: red-eye gravy, pepper gravy, tomato gravy, and chocolate gravy.

I already charted the pepper gravy territory, and the recipe provided simply said to add a can of diced tomatoes to that to make tomato gravy. While it worked well enough, I think there was some missed opportunity for a richer tomato flavor, so I went back to the drawing board.

Like pepper gravy, I started with bacon grease for a meaty, salty base, to which I added flour along with tomato paste to give deep tomato flavor to the roux. Then the required tomatoes were stirred in with milk and heavy cream for extra richness. Once thickened, the gravy was seasoned with salt and pepper and it was good to go.

This made a gravy like no other I've tasted. While the heavy stomach-filling feeling of white gravy was still present, the acidic tomatoes cut the fattiness and transformed the flavor into one that's slightly sweet and tart. If you're looking for something a little different to dress up biscuits, pork chops, or the like, it's definitely worth a try.