Red Eye Gravy

My dad had very interesting tastes.  He loved boiled beans that he would pour cream over.  He used to tell people it was part of his marriage contract; mom must always have a pot of beans on the back of the stove.  He would cut an avocado in half, remove the seed and combine mayo and ketchup in the hollow and enjoy the heck out of it.  But I think Red Eye gravy might be his favorite.

Red-eye gravy is a Southern favorite comprised of just two ingredients. It’s made from the drippings of fried country ham combined with black coffee. It may sound unusual, but it’s quite tasty and a fun way to spruce up an old-fashioned Southern meal of ham and biscuits, grits, or potatoes.

The name “red-eye gravy” is derived from the fact that a slightly reddish circle of liquid fat forms on the surface of the gravy when it is reduced. This sauce is also known as poor man’s gravy, red ham gravy, bird-eye gravy, cedar gravy, and bottom sop.

  • 1 slice of country ham
  • 1/2 cup boiling strong black coffee
  1. In a skillet, fry the ham slice in its own fat over medium heat until nicely browned on both sides. Once it is cooked, transfer the ham to a warm platter, keeping the drippings in the skillet.
  2. Add the boiling black coffee to the skillet. Deglaze, scraping the bottom and sides of the skillet to dissolve any particles that developed when you cooked the ham.
  3. What is left in the skillet is red-eye gravy, which you can then pour over the ham and serve.


  • grease from frying ham
  • 1 – 2 tablespoons flour
  • 1 -2 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 cup hot tap water
  • 1⁄cup strong coffee
  • 1 beef bouillon cube
  • 1 tablespoon butter (optional)


  • Heat grease, add flour and sugar until dissolved and incorporated with ham grease. Add water, coffee and bullion cube, stir until gravy is well blended. Turn down heat and cook for 1 minute, add butter and cook for 1 minute longer. Serve immediately with hot biscuits or grits.

*  From the Recipe Box:

We had a few problems with these recipes.  The ham slice I remember from my youth did not look like these.  There was no fat ring around the outer edge like I remembered, so we didn’t get any ham grease.

I want to know what makes the “eye” in the gravy when you’re reducing it.  I tried 2 different recipes and it looked the same on both.  Odd.

and remember:  Here’s to the nights that turned into mornings; the friends that turned into family; the dreams that turned into reality; and the likes that turned into loves.  Big kiss, Lynn

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