Tuesday, May 21, 2024

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Pink-Eye Gravy Recipe



Why It Works

  • Bone-in ham slices are untrimmed and fattier, which ensures sufficient drippings for the gravy.
  • Soaking ham in water for half-hour attracts out extra salt, which retains the gravy from being too salty.
  • Ending the gravy with butter provides richness for a velvety mouthfeel.

Since I used to be very younger rising up in southwest Virginia, getting ready and having fun with huge elaborate breakfasts collectively was a staple a part of each household reunion, irrespective of the hour. When one or a number of of us returned dwelling late at evening or early within the morning, weary and hungry from journey, we’d make breakfast along with the works: eggs, grits, biscuits or toast, and after a fast thaw of leftover nation ham from the freezer, red-eye gravy, which is a fast emulsion of sizzling espresso and slowly rendered ham drippings. I grew up consuming red-eye gravy this manner, a swirl of a sizzling spoonful over an impromptu midnight breakfast, even when I used to be a bleary-eyed member of the welcoming committee. For a few years, I related red-eye gravy nearly totally with worldwide air journey even earlier than I had ever truly been inside a aircraft. 

The title red-eye gravy doubtless has nothing to do with espresso or caffeine (or red-eye flights) in any respect. Whereas there are legends about President Andrew Jackson requesting red-eye gravy the colour of his bloodshot eyes after an extended evening of ingesting, these are tall tales that aren’t essentially rooted actually. I’ve seen that the extra fantastical tales about red-eye gravy are extra widespread on web message boards about southern meals slightly than tales which can be truly shared round southern tables themselves. It’s extra doubtless that the title takes its cue from its shimmering reddish hue the place it swimming pools across the “eye” or “aitch” bone of skinny sliced, bone-in nation ham. 

Critical Eats / Morgan Hunt Glaze


Whereas the historical past behind its title is contested, I’ll all the time affiliate red-eye gravy with breakfast meals and a candy return dwelling. I grew up consuming red-eye gravy rendered and constructed from no matter ham was leftover from the annual New Yr’s ham within the freezer. This fairly often included the bone and all of the trimmings, however we didn’t essentially drizzle it excessive of a correct ham slice. Whereas it’s good to eat red-eye gravy with a beneficiant slice of ham itself, I believe it’s much more nice drizzled over a biscuit or stirred into tacky, buttery grits. It’s not a thick, creamy gravy for dunking or masking meals (it’s caffeinated, in any case!), however slightly it’s extra like a jus or pan sauce for dipping and drizzling. It’s intense however wealthy and succulent, with a slight bitterness offset nearly instantly by wealthy, succulent fats. 

I consider red-eye gravy as a testomony to being awake, morning or evening, whether or not you’re having fun with it over a full meal earlier than an extended day forward or prolonging the inevitability of sleep. To me, it’s a delicacy, the right completion for a meal that you just make to be eaten over adrenaline-fueled dialog and regalement of journey tales. For me, it’s the crown jewel of being dwelling and collectively once more, a freezer by some means nonetheless stuffed with ham. It’s useless easy to make, and listed below are a pair tricks to get it proper.

Do not Be Tempted to Thicken With a Roux

Whereas many iterations of southern gravies, particularly these meant to be lovingly ladled over biscuits, are thick and velvety from the addition of a flour-based roux, red-eye gravy purists don’t add a roux, and this recipe isn’t any totally different. At its easiest, the recipe is a modest discount of nation ham and powerful black espresso, however this recipe incorporates gentle brown sugar, black pepper, and a pat of butter to melt the hit of the bitterness on the palate. The jolt of sturdy, barely bitter black espresso means red-eye gravy is just not for the faint of coronary heart, nevertheless it’s additionally a pal to sugar and butter, simply as any sincere southerner could be. These additions make sure that the gravy is hearty and wealthy sufficient with out a roux.

Solid Apart the Solid Iron and Use Stainless-Metal As an alternative

My dad makes use of a cast-iron skillet for nearly the whole lot, however even he units it apart for whipping up red-eye gravy, opting as a substitute for a stainless-steel skillet or sauté pan. It is because acidic meals and liquids, such because the espresso within the red-eye gravy, will decide up taste and shade from the iron within the pan, which might flip the gravy dingy and metallic-tasting. Pink-eye gravy is already very bitter, and the acidity of the espresso blended with the pure saltiness of the nation ham tends to attract out an disagreeable acrid taste from even probably the most well-seasoned cast-iron. 

The recipe beneath makes use of a stainless-steel pan right through, however being the forged iron-lover that I’m, after I make this at dwelling I desire to render the fats of the ham in a forged iron skillet individually, for a sluggish and even render that simply prevents overcooking of the ham, earlier than transferring the drippings to a chrome steel or enamel skillet to construct the sauce. Be happy to begin with forged iron, like I do, or keep on with chrome steel right through. Utilizing chrome steel (or an enameled skillet) doesn’t simply keep away from an off-putting taste, however the lighter shade permits me to see higher how the gravy is progressing and emulsifying. Only one sizzling spoonful of this gravy over a biscuit with a bit of additional butter and a drizzle of molasses immediately transports me again to my household’s kitchen counter, irrespective of the place I’m.

This recipe was developed by Nicole Hopper; the headnote was written by Catherine Jesse.

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