“Time camping isn’t spent, it is invested.”
When I first bought a dutch oven I had one thing in mind: biscuits and gravy. Biscuit and gravy is the most cliché dutch oven meal you can make, but it is the definition of dutch oven cooking. Biscuits and gravy (or B&G as it is more affectionately known as) is a quick, simple, easy clean-up, hearty meal, which is what dutch oven cooking is all about. A good dutch oven meal tastes like a home cooked meal served next to a campfire on a paper plate. B&G fulfills this role perfectly, as nothing tastes more home cooked than creamy sausage gravy from scratch piled over warm, oven cooked golden biscuits.
The hardest part of making dutch oven B&G is the preparing the dutch oven (and trust me, this part isn’t difficult!)
For this recipe, it is easiest to have two dutch ovens. You can do it in a single one, but the bottoms of your biscuits will most likely be soggy. So, I am going to go through the recipe for two ovens, but know you could accomplish this task in a single one.
When cooking with a dutch oven, there are a few different options for a heat source: charcoal, wood, and gas. I tend to go with charcoal because it creates a nice even heat when cooking, is easy to prepare, and easy for clean-up. Wood is a great option as you usually don’t have to purchase extra materials since wood is all around you while camping! A main disadvantage is that wood creates uneven heat, so you have to be a little more meticulous while you cook. Finally, gas is as easy option if you have a propane stove with you to just set the oven on, but I actually take a dutch oven to replace the whole concept of carrying around a stove. Anyway, all three options will work and have pros and cons, it really is all about personal preference.
To heat up my charcoal briquettes, I use a chimney. This is the easiest way I have found to light and burn down the charcoal. Chimneys are a relatively cheap investment, here is a link for a few different options: Charcoal Chimney. To light the briquettes, simply place the chimney over a few pieces of newspaper or other paper source, add the charcoal to the top of the chimney, and light the paper on the bottom. The paper should flame up and then the chimney should start to smoke. It takes about fifteen minutes for briquettes to heat up, you will know they are ready when the top layer starts to ash over.
To my first dutch oven, I add the biscuits. You could whip up a batch of your own dough and make the biscuits from scratch, but since this is camp cooking, I tend to opt for the easier version on things. So, for camp B&G I just use store bought biscuits. I like to get the big homestyle ones that are buttery and flaky. Before adding the biscuits, I place a layer of aluminum foil into the oven. This helps the biscuits from getting too brown on the bottoms, keeps them from sticking, and also makes clean-up that much easier. Place the biscuits in a single layer on top of the foil, and cover with the lid. To the bottom of the dutch oven, add between 8-10 briquettes for a 12″ dutch oven. The biscuits need to bake around 350 degrees to cook. If your oven is smaller than 12″ subtract two or three briquettes, if it is larger add two or three. On top of the oven, add 15-18 briquettes.
While the biscuits are cooking, start to preheat the second dutch oven stacked on top of the first. Once the oven has heated up, add the pound of ground sausage. I like to use homemade deer sausage, but any breakfast sausage is perfect for this recipe. Cook the sausage until it is golden brown. There is no need to remove the sausage from the pan. You want to create a roux so the gravy will be thick and creamy, and at home you traditionally would pull the sausage out to do this, but this is camping! And the rules are meant to be broken while in the outdoors. So, let’s break some rules and not remove the sausage!
To the sausage and drippings, add 1/4 cup flour and whisk until a paste forms and the mixture looks smooth and free of lumps. This should take about a minute. Slowly add the milk, stirring the entire time. Allow the mixture to bubble and cook down until it reaches your desired consistency, stirring occasionally to keep things from burning or sticking to the bottom. While you want the gravy to bubble gently while cooking, don’t allow it to come to a hard boil. If things are too hot, simply remove a few pieces of charcoal from under the top oven and continue cooking. Once the gravy is thick and glossy, season with salt and pepper.
The biscuits need between 12-15 minutes to cook. They should be fluffy and golden brown on top when finished.
To plate this bad-boy breakfast up, split a biscuit in half and place it on the plate. Smother it in the sausage gravy. Dig in! It doesn’t get much easier than that!
Enjoy and Happy Hunting!