More Parts Of The US Need To Know About Egg Gravy

Ask any southerner what the region's most iconic breakfast dish is, and the majority will probably answer biscuits and gravy. And that doesn't involve the brown brothy stuff you serve at Thanksgiving, but what is known as country or white gravy, which is made from fat (usually butter or drippings), flour, milk, and seasonings. Within the American South, there exists a lesser-known iteration called egg gravy. That's a shame because egg gravy is a delicious addition to any breakfast table. 

Egg gravy consists of white country gravy and sliced hard-boiled eggs. The more common version is, of course, sausage gravy, which adds fried ground sausage to the mix. But egg gravy is a delicious, affordable, and meatless alternative. If the concept of egg gravy immediately turns you off, consider how many times your typical biscuits and gravy are served with a side of eggs, so why not add them directly into the gravy? 

Lean times lead to gravy

Egg gravy was created for the same reason all gravy is — out of necessity. As Sara Roahen and John T. Edge write in "The Southern Foodways Alliance Community Cookbook," "The Southern way with gravies was born of privation. . . . And when folks are poor, folks make do. Which means folks make gravy" (via The Washington Post). Country gravy was a low-cost, low-ingredient, high-calorie meal that could be served over equally affordable biscuits and satisfy hunger without breaking the bank.

The reason sausage became the go-to gravy mix-in is because frying the meat caused it to release a ton of fat, which gave the perfect base for a roux. While pork was somewhat affordable and perceived as low-class meat, many folks struggled to afford it. That's when the roux would be made from just oil and flour. But with pork out of the budget, people still wanted extra richness, protein, and calories in their gravy, so the natural progression would be to turn to chicken eggs. 

While egg prices have sharply increased recently, they have traditionally been an economical way to pack calories and nutrients into dishes. A single boiled egg carries 72 calories, with 6 grams of protein and 5 grams of fat. Basically, eggs were a great way to stretch the barebones country gravy and keep bellies full. 

Egg gravy is a pleasure to eat

But egg gravy shouldn't just be eaten in lean times when it's sincerely delicious. Megan Ulu-Lani Boyanton shares that while this dish was born out of paycheck-stretching necessity, she grew up eating it just because she liked it and continues to make it for her own family. Plus, as more folks are trying to decrease their meat consumption to reduce their carbon footprint, it's essential we find equally delicious sustainable alternatives to our meat-centric favorites. So why not mix up a batch of egg gravy for a weekend breakfast?

To make egg gravy, you'll start like you would any gravy, with a roux. You can use oil, but butter will make the gravy much richer and creamier. After your roux turns golden brown, it's time to slowly add in your milk. When it's velvety but not runny, creamy but not thick, it's time to season with salt and pepper. You can also add in cajun or creole seasoning. In a separate pot, hard boil your eggs, shell them, then slice or chop them and mix them in, leaving a few slices to sit on top as an eggy garnish. Serve over toast, biscuits, or breakfast potatoes for a stunning and underrated southern meal.