As a vegetarian, it's really difficult to find good Southern food that isn't just the sides- you know, mac n' cheese, fried okra and the occasional lard-free cornbread. It's not that these aren't delicious options, but they simply aren't enough. I am always on the lookout for restaurants that make vegetarian versions of southern gravies, but thus far I've been totally disappointed. So I decided to make some traditional grits and a not-so-traditional creamy vegan red eye gravy for breakfast (normally red eye gravy is not creamy, and it's traditionally made with country ham). This entire recipe is vegan, including the grits and the store-bought soy sausage. It's super simple to make and it will definitely fill you up! This is especially great on a cold morning.
Recipe makes 3 servings.
For the Grits:
1 cup Anson Mills quick grits (you can use store-bought brand but it won't be as tasty!)
3-4 cups water, depending on which method you follow
For the grits, follow this recipe from Anson Mills, and if you want it to remain vegan (as I did) use Earth Balance or another organic vegan butter.
For the Creamy Vegan Red Eye Gravy:
4-5 soy sausage patties, partially de-frosted
1 cup black coffee
2 tbsp flour
1 tbsp + 1 tsp oil (I used grapeseed)
1 tbsp butter
1/4 cup soy milk
salt and pepper to taste
1 vegetarian bouillon cube (optional)
1 splash of liquid smoke (optional)
Heat 1 tsp of grapeseed oil in a saucepan. Chop up the vegan sausage patties into bit sized pieces, and saute them in the hot oil until they get brown and crispy. Remove from the pan and drain on a paper towel, but keep the hot oil in the pan.
Add the rest of the oil and butter on medium high heat. Once it melts together, toss the flour into the pan and stir with a whisk until it combines. Let it bubble and cook out for about 2-3 minutes, until the roux gets a little toasty and golden.
Pour in the coffee slowly and whisk constantly on reduced heat. The mixture will almost immediately begin to thicken. Add in the bouillon cube and as much soy milk as you need to control for bitterness and thin the gravy out a bit. You can add the liquid smoke now if you want a bit of smoky flavor.
Add the sausage back in and ladle over your grits! Garnish with thyme and serve with apple butter (or not. I just really like it!).