White Meat and Gravy. We don’t talk about it very much. It’s hard to explain. Yet, if the tap root on a Southern Family Tree runs deep, no explanation is needed for exactly what is meant by White Meat and Gravy. I realize the name might throw shallow rooted folks, but I do not know of a True Southern Soul who does not love the combination of fried Salt Pork and the drippings made into a Satisfying Gravy. We know what goes with White Meat and Gravy. Just say those four words and it conjures up the whole combination. From the most humble kitchens to the finest homes, true Southerners love the divine food of the impoverished-White Meat and Gravy. Recently, I was checking out at the grocery store; a friend who was headed home from work didn’t even have a buggy- she had a package of Sliced White Meat, a carton of Brown Eggs and big fragrant Cantaloupe. Quite proudly she exclaimed, ‘I’m going home and making us some White Meat and Gravy’. She didn’t have to tell me she was also having Sliced Cantaloupe, Scrambled Eggs and Homemade Biscuits. I knew it. I wanted some too! I said – ‘Wait a minute, do you make your own biscuits?’ She told me she did. Now, I’ve been on a tear doing an unscientific study of Southern Biscuits. ‘Do you pat, roll or pull the dough?’ She said- ‘I peen-ch ’em’ …Oh lord, I would have gladly gone home with her right then if she’d asked me!
Totally satisfying, that’s what her supper was going to be! I could. not. get. it out of my mind. I had to have White Meat and Gravy! Perfect for any meal really…White Meat is thick sliced and has the Salt Pork Rind still attached, it is so satisfying, almost tangy. The smooth Milk Gravy poured over hot buttered biscuits is perfect with Salt Pork. I don’t always make Scrambled Eggs with it- but it’s the fresh cool Cantaloupe which is amazing alongside. Here’s what you do:
- Fry Sliced Salt Pork (White Meat) until crisp and browned. Remove and drain.
- Stir about 1/2 cup of all purpose flour into the pan drippings to make a loose paste, . Stir until smooth. Add more flour if necessary to absorb most of the drippings. *This is an inexact recipe!
- Pour at least 1 1/2 cups of whole milk gradually into the paste and stir quickly until the Gravy is smooth, then deeply freckle the Gravy with Black Pepper. *The drippings of White Meat is naturally salty so there is no need to add extra salt.
- Serve Hot!
I hope it goes without saying- Fry the White Meat and make the Gravy while Homemade Biscuits are in the oven! *I won’t tell anybody if you use biscuits from the freezer section, just please don’t use canned biscuits! White Meat and Gravy, Hot Biscuits, Sliced Canteloupe. This is Southern. This is Satisfying. This is Food for the Soul. If you aren’t hungry by now, I cannot help you. It could be a regional thing…I hope not.
*The results of Camellia’s Cottage Biscuit Research is almost finished, if you would like to participate- There are no wrong answers, here are the questions:
- Did your mother or grandmother make homemade biscuits?
- Did she use all purpose or self rising flour?
- Ice water, sweet milk or buttermilk?
- Butter, shortening or lard?
- Did she roll, pat or pull the dough? (Some, like my friend, say ‘pinch’ the dough)
- If she rolled the dough did she use a biscuit cutter?
- Were they Tea Biscuits, Breakfast Biscuits, Drop Biscuits or Cat Head Biscuits?
- Were biscuits made everyday, mostly on the weekends or for special occasions?
I know you are desperate to find out the results! It might surprise you… Here is a warning…the tap root on your Southern Family Tree needs to be fairly deep to fully participate. While you’re at it, make some biscuits, if you dare…try White Meat and Gravy, you’ll be glad you did.
Love y’all, Camellia
*photographs of the delectable White Meat and Gravy are mine. Vintage Photograph is from an old set of children’s encyclopedias called ‘The New Wonder World’ published in the early 1940’s.