A three-ingredient Southern breakfast staple, sawmill gravy is a simple sauce best served over fluffy buttermilk biscuits. If you added 10 ounces of milk to 1 ounce of roux, you'd be well on your way to producing one of the most versatile of the five French "mother" sauces of yore: béchamel. In the South, however, we make it another way. Note: If you fry up some country ham instead of sausage and pour in black coffee rather than milk, you will have made yourself some red-eye gravy, which is an acquired taste if there ever was one. This recipe first appeared in Season 1 of Good Eats.
Crumble the sausage in a 10- to 12-inch cast iron skillet. Brown over medium heat. Remove the cooked sausage and pour off all but 2 tablespoons of fat, making sure you leave the stuck-on bits behind.
Whisk the flour into the fat in the skillet and cook over medium heat for 3 minutes. Kill the heat and whisk in the milk a little at a time. Return the mixture to medium-high heat and whisk occasionally while the gravy comes to a simmer and thickens, 2 to 3 minutes. (Be sure to scrape up any brown bits that might be stuck to the bottom of the pan — that's where the flavor is.)
Crumble the cooked sausage into the gravy, season with salt, add an insane amount of pepper, and serve hot over toast or biscuits.