The Frugal Café | Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup"</a> | Creative Commons License,
Photo credit: Rebecca Anne, "Flora's Cup" | Creative Commons License,

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Red-Eye Gravy

Complied by Vicki McClure Davidson


This great-tasting—and really, really cheap—Southern specialty has been a favorite of customers at many a rural truck stop and local diner. The term "red-eye" supposedly comes from the little red circles or "eyes" of grease that form in the gravy on the plate. Red-eye gravy has a slight bite and the bitter flavor of the coffee accentuates the salty taste of the country ham and carries the flavor across the plate. It reportedly was a favorite, when served over biscuits, of Elvis Presley's.

Make a little depression in a plate of grits and spoon in the gravy. It also tastes exceptionally good when spooned over hot split biscuits, eggs, fried rice, cornbread, potato cakes, cornmeal mush, or ham slices. For those on a budget, you can't beat its robust flavoring.


Into a hot skillet (preferably a cast iron skillet) in which the country ham or bacon has been fried, pour the hot coffee or coffee-water mix. Heat over medium heat, scraping up any tidbits of ham or bacon that have stuck to the pan.

Stir the mixture about, but don't allow the gravy to boil. Pour into a bowl or gravy boat and serve immediately over either biscuits, grits, eggs, and other foods.


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