Did the title make you pause? It sure did for me. I had to know what this was. Turns out it is a sweet “gravy”, like a honey butter, but made with sweet sorghum syrup. Author Ronni Lundy takes us on a culinary journey and explores this old-time southern sweetener in depth in her book, Sorghum’s Savor. Here she offers the recipe for the “gravy” as well as some classic buttermilk biscuits. The Gravy Horse is super simple and made in a flash; the recipe can be easily doubled or quadrupled. Make sure to check out her Sorghum and Bourbon Pecan Pie and our interview with her as well.
Reprinted with permission from University Press of Florida. Sorghum’s Savor, by Ronni Lundy. Photography by John Rott.
The name for this ubiquitous mountain morning condiment comes from Balis Ritchie, folksinger Jean Ritchie’s father. She writes, “Dad would take his whole meal on it, just about. He would take a big spoonful of molasses and let it run thick and slow over fresh-churned butter in a dish, then he’d take his fork and mix and stir, make Gravy Horse to eat on his cornbread. Hot cornbread, or biscuits, either one would go with fine.”
Not much to add to that perfect description, but for first timers, here are some proportions and hints for making what my family just called “sorghum butter.”
- 2 cups flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- ½ teaspoon baking soda
- ½ teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- ¼ pound (1 stick) unsalted butter, chilled or frozen
- ¾ cup buttermilk
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 2 tablespoons sorghum syrup
- For the Biscuits: In a large bowl, sift together flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and sugar. Using a cheese grater, grate butter into dry ingredients and mix lightly with fingers until crumbly.
- Add buttermilk and quickly work into flour mixture with a pastry cutter, wooden spoon, or by hand. Knead with a few quick strokes into a rounded mound and let rest 20 to 30 minutes in the refrigerator.
- Heat oven to 400°F. Lightly grease or line a baking sheet with parchment paper and set aside.
- Roll dough on a floured surface to a thickness of ½ inch. Cut with a 2-inch biscuit cutter and transfer to prepared baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until lightly browned and baked through.
- For the Gravy Horse: Put the butter in a small bowl or saucer and let sit at room temperature until it is softened but not runny. Pour sorghum over the top and use the tines of a fork to first mash then gently whip together. You can use the fork to daub it onto hot biscuits, and this should be enough to grace a half-dozen of Ouita’s Biscuits.