Biscuits & Jerky Gravy: The Best Breakfast A Cowboy Ever Ate
Gail Gardnerís Biscuits & Gravy
Interview with Prof. Jan Rousch December 11, 1986 Prescott, Az.

          We made some jerky just recently. I got some meat and told my good wife how to make it. Iíve still got my jerky lines out on the back porch, you know.

          She cut up the jerky (1 inch wide and 6-8 inches long) and hung it over the jerky line. When itís done, you take it off the line and put it in a flour sack and you got jerk. And of course the greatest ranch dish you can have is jerky gravy. You grind up the jerky in the food chopper and then make gravy out if it--thatís jerky gravy. Put that over hot biscuits and thatís the best breakfast a cowboy ever ate.

          To prepare the jerk, you make a brine thatís just salty enough to float a potata; not enough to float an egg, but salty enough to float a potata. When you cut that meat in strips, I take a pinch fork and dip a strip of that meat twice in that brine, then season it up before you throw it over the jerk line to dry. To season it, throw the strips into a dish pan and shake pepper over it--you get enough pepper on there to keep the flies off of it, then you hang it on the line.

          You usually make jerky in the Summer or the Fall, and itíd dry in less than a week. I always put my jerky in an empty flour sack, you know. If you tie the top of the sack, thatíll keep the moisture away.

          And you make your biscuits in the Dutch oven. I lived for twenty years out of a Dutch oven and thereís quite an art to cookiní with a Dutch oven. You build your fire and you throw your Dutch oven right in the fire, and you have the oven itself just hot enough to melt shortening.

          Under the oven, you put no more than just a handful of coals. You put all the coals you can on the lid, put the lid on and your biscuits cook from the top, but you have just a handful of coals underneath, just enough to melt the shortening that you put in the oven when you start. Butter was the best. If you had butter, youíd put butter in there. If you didnít have butter youíd put ordinary bacon grease.

          For the biscuits, you used flour and bakiní powder. Maybe a teaspoon of baking powder stirred-up in this, you see. Youíd just put a spoonful of dough in there then turn it over so youíd get shortening on all sides of it. Then you put the lid of the Dutch oven on.

          The biscuits were baked entirely from the top. That hot lid is what baked your biscuits. The biscuits took about nine or ten minutes--it didnít take very long. Iíll tell you what I used to do. Iíd roll a brown paper cigarette you know, I smoked anyway, and Iíd light it. And when that cigarette was smoked a little more than half way down, well then it was time to take my gaunch hook (itís what you lifted the oven lid with) and look at the biscuits and see how they were doiní. Iíd take my Case knife, turn one biscuit over and it was done, why Iíd put the gaunch in the handle of the Dutch oven and kick the coals off the lid, then put the oven back on the coals and the biscuits would stay hot all through breakfast.

          You made your gravy in a fryiní pan as you were going along. Yeah, my wife made a whole bunch of jerky gravy. And thatís the best breakfast you ever had was jerky gravy on hot biscuits. Best breakfast a cowboy ever ate.

          -Gail Gardner