Sausage Gravy Vs Country: What's The Difference?

It's no secret that some of America's most iconic and scrumptious foods are steeped in Southern roots. Just hearing "the South" conjures up thoughts of fried chicken, peach cobbler, and banana pudding (via Southern Living). Choosing the most Southern dish is subjective and depends on a person's tastes, origins, and experiences. But biscuits and gravy have to be high on the list.

The Washington Post suggests that the dish originated in the Appalachian region in the late 19th century. With lumber as a prime resource for the area, biscuits and gravy offered a filling, calorie-rich, and low-cost meal for mill workers who worked long and strenuous hours. Like many foods in early America, recipes were often determined by what was available. According to The Travel, pork was the cheapest meat of the era, so ground pork sausage was the go-to choice for gravy. As the dish's popularity spread throughout the South, naturally, the ingredients evolved. 

According to MyRecipes, we have various gravies from red-eye, tomato, chicken, country, and many others, in addition to the typical sausage. While they each have their ingredients and cooking methods,  most people associate sausage and country gravy with biscuits regarding the popular breakfast dish. Some may even think they are the same, but there is one significant difference.

To meat or not to meat

Sausage gravy is a white, milk-based sauce, typically made by browning up some sausage in a pan. Flour and seasonings are then added. The fat from the sausage mixed with the flour is the primary thickening agent in the dish. Milk is then added, and everything is stirred until the mixture thickens and begins to bubble. While served with biscuits is the gravy's claim to fame, there's no reason you couldn't enjoy it over toast or mashed potatoes.

Country gravy uses just about the same ingredients as sausage gravy except for the sausage. Yes, country gravy is made entirely without meat. But that doesn't necessarily mean it's vegetarian or vegan-friendly. According to Betty Crocker, country gravy is meant to be served over or alongside a meal, like doused over fried chicken, ham, and — yes — biscuits, too. However, the fat needed to make a proper thickener with the flour often comes from the drippings of whatever meat you have fried, also called the drippings. Once the flour, drippings, and seasonings are combined, you add your milk, stir, and let everything come to a simmer. When thickened, it's ready. 

You can make a country gravy without any meat drippings at all. Butter makes a great fat substitution, resulting in a savory sauce to pour over meat or vegetables. Whether you prefer sausage or country gravy, both offer a rich, warm, comforting, and indulgent blanket of goodness over breakfast, lunch, or dinner.