Southern Cornmeal Gravy


I took myself way back in years for breakfast this morning. It’s been since I was in my late teens that I have eaten cornmeal gravy, but I have never forgotten it and this morning I woke up with it hot and heavy on my mind so I knew Nannie Polly was telling me it was time to make some. I fixed it just as she did, serving it over a hot buttermilk biscuit with a side of fried country ham. It was a memory of real goodness for me and I enjoyed every single bite.

It seems Nannie Polly is spending some sleepless nights in Heaven because she sure is weighing in on me while I sleep because I have been waking up a lot lately thinking about things she used to cook. As I was writing my recipe column this morning for the newspapers that I contribute to here in West Virginia, I found myself suddenly thinking about her pineapple pudding. That is one recipe I did write down from her when I was younger and haven’t made it in years, but I sure plan to before the week is over. Nannie and I always had a special connection, she often knew what I was thinking before I could spit it out. She was the one to let me know I was pregnant with my first child while I was visiting her. I had no idea, nor symptoms, but she told me on the way home from the beauty shop she saw a dead rabbit and just knew I was expecting. She also mentioned I was walking differently. I figured she must have had a swig or two from Papas mason jar on the carport because I just couldn’t be expecting. Well wouldn’t you know it, she was right and I had a bouncing baby boy 8 months later. He and Nannie become quite the pair when they were together, just as she and I were when I was little.

Southern Cornmeal Gravy (makes enough for 2-3 servings)

1 tsp. bacon grease
1/4 C. cornmeal
1/2 C. water
1/2 C. milk
1/4 tsp. salt
pepper to taste

Heat the bacon grease in a heavy skillet, add the cornmeal and stir till it begins to lightly brown. Whisk in the water and milk, bringing up to a boil while whisking. Keep a little extra water handy, it thickens rather quickly so a little extra water may be needed to thin it down a hair (I added about 2 T. more water to mine). Once you have the consistency you like, stir in the salt and pepper to taste before serving.