Southern Country Ham & Red Eye Gravy


When the rest of the world has been out splashing in the pool and enjoying the summer weather, I have been laying on the couch watching hours of TV. If you know me at all, this is so NOT my personality! I am still recovering from my first trimester of pregnancy and definitely craving comfort food and lots of rest.

One of my favorite shows is Mind of a Chef on PBS. Season 2 hosts Chef Sean Brock from Tennessee and follows him as he travels the south showcasing the incredible history and rich traditions of southern cuisine.

I’m so fascinated by shows like Mind of a Chef because I love learning and growing in my understanding of culinary techniques and also the history of certain dishes. In a couple episodes, Chef Brock mentioned and cooked a very traditional southern breakfast of country ham and red eye gravy. I was so inspired by his attention to detail and respect for his food that I had to try it for myself!

The story goes that a very hungry southern general wanted a gravy as red as his eyes. The oil separates from the coffee enough to look like a red eye, hence the funny name.

The gravy is typically made with country ham, but can also be made with bacon, sausage or sometimes roast beef. Here I’ve used a turkey bacon I found on sale! The gravy is incredibly simple, using the pan drippings from the meat, and mixing in a little coffee. Because I like to cut the acidity of the coffee just a bit, I threw in some brown sugar, but you don’t have to. I also served mine up with an egg and some fluffy, buttery sourdough biscuits to help sop up that delicious gravy.


Country Ham and Red Eye Gravy


  • Country ham, bacon or turkey bacon of your choice
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee
  • 1 tablespoon light brown sugar
  • additional: biscuits, cornbread, grits, and a side of eggs!


  1. Heat up a large skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Once the skillet is very hot, place meat on the skillet. Cook meat evenly on both sides according to what kind of meat you are using. Just enough for a golden crust to form.
  3. While meat is cooking, brew coffee.
  4. Remove meat and pour coffee into the pan, whisking to pick up the pan drippings left behind from the meat.
  5. Add brown sugar and whisk in.
  6. Lower heat to medium and simmer until the gravy has reduced by half.
  7. Pour into a gravy boat or small pitcher and pour generously over country ham, biscuits, cornbread or grits!


The history of American southern cuisine is so interesting! Do you have any dishes from your region that you enjoy?

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Natasha Red lives in Texas with her husband and baby girl. She inherited her love of cooking from watching her dad serve her family meals every night growing up. From early on, being in the kitchen has provided a creative outlet and a sense of calm at the end of a hard day. Natasha loves to see women boldly approach food, embracing it as a blessing to themselves and the people that fill their homes. Her blog is a personal recipe collection sprinkled with thoughts on motherhood, life as a family, natural living, and her passion for gathering people in her home, feeding their bellies and their hearts as well.

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