Sawmill gravy, also known as sausage gravy, is a southern staple. It gets the sawmill moniker because it’s something they used to serve at chow time in the old Civil War era sawmills and logging camps. In my very southern family, however, we served it sans sausage and called it milk gravy. Although my dad passed when I was pretty young, one of my more vivid memories of him was of making french toast (unsweetened) and smothering it with home made, peppery milk gravy. The recipe he used was handed down to him from his grandma (my Pepa’s mama), and while eating french toast and gravy may sound odd to some, it was a childhood delicacy!
Milk-based gravies are pretty simple fare. You start with a roux of flour and animal fat (usually bacon drippings but sausage drippings work, too), and then you add milk (or cream), salt, and a whole lot of pepper, then cook it down to the thickness you prefer. This recipe is almost identical to my non-keto sausage/milk gravy with some lifestyle-appropriate changes. Roux is not exactly keto-friendly, but making an authentic southern milk gravy, with or without sausage, is as easy as swapping in heavy cream for milk and adding a little glucomannan powder at the right time.
I have to tell you, while I realize that folks do the best they can to simulate old favorites, I’ve never in my life seen a “real” southern gravy that had cream cheese in it, and there won’t be cream cheese in this one, either. It’s just pure southern, sausage-and-bacon-and-peppery deliciousness. Serve it up over eggs, or with your favorite low carb biscuits (like my buttermilk-style ones).
Notes: Before you ask, please, for the love of all that is keto and wonderful, do not try to use xanthan gum as the thickener. It is incredibly easy to overdo, and tends to make hot liquids slimy and/or gummy. Trust me, xanthan gum is the mortal enemy of gravy. If you have a hard time finding glucomannan powder in your local supplement store, it’s available for a very reasonable price on Amazon, and it will last a very long time.
Real milk-based gravies should not be pasty. I know a lot of restaurants serve it that way, and so that’s what folks have come to expect. The actual thing, though, is tight but should pour and not spread.
I divided this into four, very generous servings, but if you only use a little gravy at a time you could stretch this to six or eight. I probably only eat half a serving at a time, but other members of my family will eat an entire quarter of the recipe in one sitting (and maybe go back for more!), so that is up to you and your appetite.
- 1/2 lb (8 oz/227 g) ground sausage
- 1 oz (28 g or approx. 1/4 c) diced yellow onion
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- a touch of bacon drippings, if desired, to keep sausage mix from sticking
- 1 c (8 fl oz/237 ml) heavy cream
- 1 tsp ground black pepper (or more, to taste)
- 1/2 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 tsp glucomannan powder
- 1 tbsp salted butter
- 2 slices crisply cooked bacon, crumbled (as garnish, if desired)
- Measure out your cream, then whisk the pepper, salt, and glucomannan in well and let stand while you prepare the sausage.
- In a heavy-bottomed skillet, begin cooking the sausage and onion over medium-high heat, breaking up the sausage into tiny pieces. If the sausage sticks at all, add a little bacon grease to the skillet to loosen it up.
- In the last few minutes before the sausage is browned, add the garlic to the skillet and allow the mixture to cook, stirring freqently, until the sausage is cooked through.
- Give the heavy cream mixture a little stir, then add it to the skillet and turn the heat down to medium.
- Cook the gravy over medium, scraping any bits off bottom of the pan well with a wooden spoon, until it’s as bubbly and thick as you like it. Mine was tight but still pourable at 3-4 minutes, but it could possibly be a little longer if you like your gravy very thick.
- Vigorously stir in the butter at the last minute to melt into the mixture.
- Remove from the heat, garnish with crumbled bacon, and serve immediately.
Per serving (assumes bacon is used as garnish): 437 cal, 13.4 g protein, 41 g fat, 3.6 g carbs, 0.5 g fiber, 3.1 g NET carbs
- Serving Size: 1/4 recipe
Keywords: Sawmill, sausage, gravy, southern, milk