The outside is floury to the touch but radiating heat -- a clue to the fluffy, golden inside. Cut one open, held in your palm like a shucking oyster, and slather in the butter in those precious seconds before the warmth fades away. Of course, by then, the goodness will have long disappeared into your mouth with a one-way ticket to your ever-so-grateful stomach.
Yup, it's hard to improve the simple biscuit. If you aim to try, you may as well bring out the big guns. That's right: sausage gravy.
Often considered a southern specialty, the humble biscuit is elevated into down-home comfort food by the application of creamy gravy glistening with molten sausage fat. The dish is painfully simple to make and yet seemingly just as easy to screw up. Lumpy gravy, stale biscuits, and lack of flavor are the tell-tale signs of a bum biscuit.
Who came out on top of this biscuit battle? Read on to find out.
In One Corner: Over Easy
4730 E. Indian School Road
Phoenix, AZ 85018
The Set-Up: Over Easy isn't the place to go for textbook biscuits and sausage gravy. Their Southwest take on the dish includes spicy jalapenos and cheddar baked right into the biscuit. As for the gravy, it's poured on thick over the biscuit and (get this) an actual piece of a sausage link.
Pros: Sausage overload. The gravy tastes like biting into a fresh sausage. The only thing missing is the snap. Luckily, the piece of sausage standing between the gravy and the biscuit takes care of that.
Cons: My doctor doesn't recommend eating this with any sort of regularity.
In the Other Corner: Harlow's Café
1021 West University Drive
Tempe, AZ 85281
The Set-Up: Harlow's keeps it simple. The dish comes with four fluffy biscuits dripping in gravy. Some eggs may join you in a side car if you're so inclined.
Pros: Like all biscuits with sausage gravy, we were looking for something that is an excellent vehicle for black pepper and salt. We were not disappointed.
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Cons: While there's plenty of room for salt and pepper, it's directly because of a lack of sausage. Sure, there are some discernable sausage bits in the gravy, but nothing large enough to sink your teeth into. These biscuits are covered in a cream gravy that only mildly tastes of sausage.
Verdict: While we acknowledge that there are many flat tops and breakfast counters serving up plates of gravy-covered biscuits, Over Easy is the best we've tried so far. Unless you're the sort of biscuits and sausage gravy purist who'll only eat the ones your grandma makes, you'll have a hard time not appreciating the cheesy, spicy bits of the cheddar and jalapeno biscuits.