leave your inhibitions at the door
I recently read a New York Times article that simultaneously scared the hell out of me, provided relief, and also made me strangely proud of myself.
According to the Journal of the American Medical Association, the sugar industry was able to successfully pay off Harvard researchers to publish an article saying that dietary fat was to blame for heart disease, not sugar. It scared the hell out of me because we now have a couple of generations who were duped into believing a low-fat diet rich in carbohydrates was good for you. Helloooooo obesity epidemic.
On the other hand, I”m relieved that my kids are thinking twice about applying to Harvard. Helloooooo thousands of saved tuition dollars.
But it does make me proud because I wrote this post about how we should be celebrating the virtues of the fat-laden, sublimely delicious, southern staple – biscuits and gravy. So proud, in fact, I’m going to rustle up the ingredients to make a big batch tomorrow. I suggest you do the same…
For decades, we’ve been taught to believe that saturated fats in food are bad. Wait, “taught” is a mild understatement. The point has been hammered into our heads that a diet with a lot of fat in it leads to obesity and heart attacks. Not wanting to lose out on a money-making opportunity, the food industry jumped all over it. First, we started to see margarine being touted as being healthier than butter. Then, we started seeing the words “low fat” appearing on all kinds of food labels and in restaurants everywhere.
The problem is – it may not have been true.
There’s a fairly entertaining documentary available on Netflix called Fat Head. The movie set out to refute the movie “Supersize Me,” which chronicled the detrimental effects on Morgan Spurlock’s body after his eating nothing but McDonalds for a month. But he didn’t actually do it. Or at least there was no proof of his diet and no evidence that what he ate was responsible for his the health problems. In “Fat Head,” Tom Naughton ate what Spurlock supposedly did and documented it his meals in great detail. Instead of ballooning up and developing various medical conditions, he actually loses weight and his cholesterol level drops.
The movie goes on to refute the whole “fat is evil” line of thought, something that’s been verified by some new studies. The original studies that started the trend only found a correlation between fat and heart disease, not necessarily causation. The new studies are saying that it’s not fat and cholesterol that are the culprits for bad health. The bigger factor is diabetes or pre-diabetes – basically that it’s excess sugars and refined carbs that are the bigger concern. One telling point is that, of the patients who go to emergency rooms with heart attacks, 75% of them have normal cholesterol levels.
I’m sure all kinds of people are going to refute the latest fat studies, as that’s what people do. Plus there are a lot of companies like Healthy Choice and Subway that use “low fat” as a key selling point. What isn’t up for debate is that hand-made food using natural ingredients – often with a lot of fat – tastes better. Tofu is not steak. Heck, it’s not even turkey. And you simply can’t cook with margarine like you can with butter. Margarine is a mixture of oil and water, so when it melts you’re introducing unwanted water and your food doesn’t brown. Let’s not forget that margarine tastes like shiznit.
So in celebration of fat’s – at least temporary – redemption, I made what many have called “heart attack on a plate.” Biscuits & Gravy, that staple of southern breakfasts, is filled with butter, pork, grease, and milk. It has all kinds of things you’re supposed to avoid. And it’s delicious. What I also found was that it was so filling and satisfying that I ended up eating less for lunch.
Just in case, it’s probably wise not to eat this every day. And keep exercising!
Biscuits and Gravy
I got this recipe from Chow.com. It’s seemed straightforward and the biscuits were absolutely PERFECT.
For the biscuits
– 2 cups flour, plus more for dusting
– 2 teaspoons baking powder
– 1 teaspoon salt
– ½ teaspoon baking soda
– 8 Tablespoons cold butter (1 stick) cut into ½ inch pieces.
– 1 cup cold buttermilk
1 – Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper; set aside.
2 – Whisk together the measured flour, baking powder, salt, and baking soda in a large bowl to aerate and combine. Add the butter pieces and toss to just coat them in the flour mixture. Place the bowl in the freezer for 10 minutes.
3 – Using a pastry blender or 2 knives, and working quickly so as not to soften the butter, cut the butter into the dry ingredients until it’s in pea-size pieces. Drizzle in the buttermilk and stir just until a moist, shaggy dough comes together.
4 – Generously dust a work surface with flour. Scrape the dough out onto the surface and dust the top with more flour. Using floured hands, gently pat the dough into a 1-inch-thick circle.
5 – Using a 2-1/2-inch round cutter dipped in flour, cut out as many biscuits as possible (press straight down through the dough—do not twist the cutter, or the biscuits will not rise properly). Transfer the biscuits to the prepared baking sheet, spacing them at least 1 inch apart. Gather the scraps into a ball, pat it into a 1-inch-thick circle, and cut out more biscuits. Repeat as needed until you have 8 total. Discard any remaining dough.
6 – Bake until the biscuits have risen and are golden brown on top, about 15 to 16 minutes. Transfer them to a wire rack. Meanwhile, make the gravy.
For the gravy
– 3 Tablespoons butter
– 12 ounces uncooked breakfast sausage, casings removed. I get mine from my favorite sausage shop – Biercamp.
– 1/3 cup flour
– ½ tsp salt
– ½ tsp black pepper
– 1/8 tsp cayenne pepper
– 3 ½ cups milk. NOTE – I only ended up using 2 cups, but I like it thicker. No idea why. So add the milk gradually and stop when you get the consistency you want.
1 – Heat the butter in a large frying pan over medium-high heat until foaming. Add the sausage and cook, breaking it up into smaller pieces with a wooden spoon, until the meat’s no longer pink and is starting to brown, about 5 minutes.
2 – Reduce the heat to medium. Sprinkle the sausage with the flour, measured salt, measured pepper, and cayenne. Cook, stirring frequently, until the raw taste of the flour has cooked off, about 1 minute.
3 – Gradually stir in the milk, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Bring to a simmer, stirring occasionally. Continue simmering, stirring often, until the mixture has thickened slightly, about 1 minute more (the gravy will continue to thicken as it sits). Taste and season with additional salt and pepper as needed. Keep warm.
4 – To serve, split the biscuits in half horizontally and top with the sausage gravy.
So what do you think? Has fat gotten a bad rap or should we continue with the low-fat diets? Can we at least agree I’m getting better with a camera?