The Surprising Meal Dolly Parton Makes For Breakfast

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Those of us who are inspired by French cuisine might have our five mother sauces (béchamel, veloute, espagnole, hollandaise, and tomato), but for a Southern belle like the Queen of Country, Dolly Parton, Southern creamy milk gravy is the only breakfast sauce guaranteed to do the trick. 

During an interview with celebrity RuPaul for Marie Claire, Parton said she likes to get up early and begin her day in the kitchen, where she stands over a hot stove — fully made up and in high heels — making breakfast. One dish that both she and her husband love? "Every now and then I'll make my husband, Carl, an extra special breakfast. Some of our favorites are Southern staples like sausage patties and flaky biscuits, and this creamy milk gravy is the perfect topping," she told Today

While many Southern-style milk gravies begin with a roux that resembles béchamel sauce in that it starts with butter or drippings mixed with flour over heat until no lumps remain (via Deep South Dish), Parton's recipe, which she shared with Today, calls for flour, salt, thyme, black pepper, whole milk, and whipping cream — with no trace of the butter or grease.

Dolly Parton shares her recipe for milk gravy

Today reached out to Florida chef Art Smith, who waxed poetic about gravies like Parton's, saying "All Southern gravies separate good cooks from great ones. There should never be a mix involved. Gravies are not convenience food — the recipes are rich in memories and soul." Smith added, "At its core, a milk gravy is sublime in its simplicity. It's the melding of technique and tradition."

Parton's gravy is made by mixing the dry ingredients, then whisking in the milk and cream before setting it on top of the stove to thicken. The country music queen says the recipe is a real winner with her husband. "He likes that once in a while. Now, I can't eat like that all the time, but I enjoy eating it when I do," she tells RuPaul (via Marie Claire). Who could say no to biscuits and gravy from Dolly?

Dolly Parton learned to cook from her mom

Parton, by her own reckoning, is more than just a good cook — she's a great one! "You better believe it! I'm a really, really good cook," Parton said to Good Morning America. "I'm not a gourmet cook. My food is not pretty, but it's good. I cook like my mom, my grandmas, and my aunts. I'm still one of those people that really can cook, like the old days. That soul food cooking." That makes sense considering her affinity for Southern biscuits and gravy.

Parton relies on recipes and cooking tips she learned while growing up in a small, one bedroom log cabin in Sevierville, Tennessee (via Visit My Smokies). The country musician says they didn't have much when she and her 11 siblings were growing up, so her mother Avie Lee had to get creative; they even made "Stone Soup" according to Parton — a hearty soup made with vegetables, chicken stock, potato, ham hock, and garlic. To this mix, Parton's mother would add one stone which the children found outside, just like the old children's story (via Country Living).

Dolly Parton has written a cookbook

In 2006, Dolly Parton decided it was time to share the recipes she'd accumulated from her mother Avie Lee and mother-in-law Ginnie Dean, as well as recipes for dishes that are served in restaurants in her Dollywood theme park. The cookbook, called Dixie Fixin's, also has personal photos from Parton's collection and explores her love of food and family. On her website, Parton says: "I still like to try new foods as often as I can. But when it comes to cooking for myself and my husband Carl and my great big extended family, which numbers into the multiple hundreds these days, what we really want to eat is what comforts us most: good, hearty food rooted in Mama's cooking and those country gatherings of my childhood. It's the food from those Mom and Pop joints that welcome you in as if you're family. We really just want food that is lovingly made and joyfully served up. Around here, that's what we call Dixie Fixin's."

The cookbook now sells for a whopping $700 or more on Amazon and appears to be a real collector's item. Given this, it may be a good idea to scour the internet for more of Parton's tips and tricks on how to make what she calls "soul food cooking." If her milk gravy is anything to go by, Parton's recipes are well worth the search (via Good Morning America).