Red-eye gravy

Red-eye gravy is a thin sauce often seen in the cuisine of the Southern United States and associated with the country ham of that region. Other names for this sauce include poor man's gravy, bird-eye gravy and red ham gravy. The gravy is made from the drippings of pan-fried country ham that has been mixed with black coffee. The same drippings, when mixed with flour, make the flavoring for a white gravy. Red-eye gravy is often served over ham, cornbread, grits, or biscuits.

A common practice is to dip the inner sides of a split biscuit into the gravy in order to add flavor and keep the biscuit from being too dry when a piece of country ham is added between the two halves: the Southern "ham biscuit" (although the Appalachian ham biscuit is simply a biscuit with country ham). Another popular way to serve red-eye gravy, especially in parts of Alabama, is with mustard or ketchup mixed in with the gravy. Biscuits are then "sopped" in the gravy.

In Louisiana, Cajun-style gravy is often made with a roast beef instead of ham. Black coffee is always used, and it is frequently a strongly brewed chicory coffee. The gravy is ladled over the meat on a bed of rice, staining the rice a dark brown color. Often, French bread and some kind of beans are also served as a side, like butter beans (lima beans) or peas.

The Mississippi variation uses red wine in the place of coffee.

Origin

Red Eye Gravy's name likely comes from the appearance of the gravy. Prepared traditionally, when coffee and grease are not combined until the end (see Preparation, below) the coffee and grease form a heterogeneous mixture, with the water-based coffee sinking to the bottom and the oil-based grease forming the top layer. In a round bowl, therefore, the mixture looks much like a red eye, the coffee giving the red hue and the grease looking like a human iris. [About.com Red Eye Gravy Recipe" [http://www.recipesource.com/side-dishes/sauces/red-eye-gravy1.html] "]

Less traditional preparation techniques do not always result in the "red eye" appearance, leading to folk legends surrounding the origin of the name. For instance, that former United States President Andrew Jackson requested ham with gravy as red as his cook's eyes, which were bloodshot from drinking the night before, [Stradley, Linda. " [http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CountryHamHistory.htm History of County Ham and Red-Eye Gravy] ". "What's Cooking America".] or that the black coffee in the gravy will keep people awake. [Barrett, Elle. "Good gravy". "Southern Living", February 1999.]

Preparation

The basic recipe for red-eye gravy is quite simple. After the ham has been cooked, the grease is removed from the pan. Black coffee is then used to deglaze the pan. The coffee and grease are then poured into the same container in a one to one ratio.

Other recipes exist, using water instead of coffee, or adding coffee with grease still present in the pan.

ee Also

Sawmill gravy, which is sometimes confused with red-eye gravy.

References

External links

* [http://www.pbs.org/speak/words/trackthatword/ttw/?i=1266 Track That Word! listing for 'red-eye gravy'] on the "Do You Speak American?" website


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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • red-eye gravy — Southern Cookery. a gravy made from the pan juices of fried country ham, thickened with flour and sometimes containing coffee for color and flavor. [1945 50] * * * …   Universalium

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