The Sundress Cookbook series brings you meals made by our writers and the stories behind them. In this installment, we have milk gravy with Jennifer Jackson Berry.
Pork chops and hominy was another standard weeknight meal in the Jackson household. Sometimes we’d also have milk gravy if the chops had enough fat to flavor it. There would be a loaf of white bread on the table those nights. Milk gravy poured over a slice placed beside a chop and a scoop of hominy. Although I often make pork chops and hominy, I hadn’t had milk gravy in years and years when I decided to make it for myself for the first time. I’ve learned it takes patience to make the roux and slowly add the milk to get the right consistency. It also takes 125 grinds of my particular pepper mill to get it peppery enough. Most recently, I made this with ground breakfast sausage and served it over biscuits. So good.
Pork of choice
5 T. butter
5 T. flour
2 ½ c. whole milk
Freshly ground pepper
Brown/cook through your pork product of choice in a large pan. Remove meat, but leave any drippings. Add the butter to the pan; melt it over medium heat. Whisk in the flour to make a blond roux. Slowly add the milk in ½ cup increments, stirring each time until completely incorporated. Add the pepper to taste. If using sausage, add it back to the pan.
The Rediscovered Meal
Praise the rediscovered meal, first known
when thick-cut pork chops lined with shiny
white fat were easier to find. Praise
the brown bits left even from thinner chops,
that butter can be a substitute, pat after pat,
with tablespoons of flour. Praise whole milk,
the whisk and the pepper mill, the tasting spoon
coated and licked clean, the pepper mill again,
the pepper mill again. Praise a husband
willing to stand at the stove while you make this
for the first time yourself, while the milk gravy
turns its subtle brown, while you taste,
closing your eyes. Forgive his pouring of the gravy
over everything—the pork, the hominy—
when all this gravy needs is white bread,
a fork turned sideways, soft bites. Want this meal.
Want slice after slice. Forgive the forgetting
of the whisk and the pepper. Want the gravy,
its lonely milk.
Jennifer Jackson Berry is the author of The Feeder (YesYes Books, 2016). Her most recent chapbook Bloodfish was published by Seven Kitchens Press in 2019 as part of their Keystone Chapbook Series. Her other chapbooks include When I Was a Girl (Sundress Publications) and Nothing But Candy (Liquid Paper Press). She lives in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.