Some say it’s a science; some say it’s the decades of practice; some say it’s the large quantity of butter. But we’ll never really know what makes our local greasy spoon’s biscuits and gravy so darn good. Rather than try to replicate their secret recipe, we present our meatless--yet equally satisfying--take on the Southern classic. We add cheddar cheese to our simple buttermilk biscuits, and use caramelized onions in place of meat in our rich gravy. It all comes together in less than an hour, so you don’t need to save this dish for weekend brunch. (And if you add a side of breakfast sausage to the plate, we won’t tell anyone.)
2 cups all-purpose flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
¾ teaspoon salt
8 tablespoons unsalted butter, cubed
1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
1 cup buttermilk
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 large sweet onion, thinly sliced
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
¼ cup all-purpose flour
1½ cups half-and-half
Freshly ground black pepper
Pinch of cayenne pepper
1. Preheat the oven to 400°. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.
2. Make the Biscuits: In the bowl of a food processor, mix the flour with the baking powder and salt to combine. Add the butter and pulse until it’s the size of peas. Dump the mixture into a medium bowl, and stir in the cheddar cheese and buttermilk.
3. Scoop out 4 mounds of dough (about 3 inches in diameter each) and place them onto the prepared baking sheet. Bake until golden brown on top, 15 to 17 minutes. Cool slightly.
4. Make the Gravy: Heat the olive oil in a medium sauté pan over high heat. Add the onion, reduce the heat to medium-low and cook, stirring occasionally, until golden, 12 to 15 minutes. Set aside.
5. In a medium pot, melt the butter over medium heat. Add the flour and cook, stirring constantly, until the mixture turns light brown, 4 to 6 minutes.
6. Gradually add the half-and-half to the flour mixture, whisking vigorously to combine. Bring the mixture to a simmer and cook until thick, 2 to 3 minutes. Stir in the caramelized onions, then season the gravy with salt and pepper.
7. To serve, cut the warm biscuits in half and place the bottom halves on separate plates. Cover each portion generously with gravy and a pinch of cayenne pepper, then place the top halves over the gravy. Serve immediately.