In the photo above, red eye gravy is tossed with a number of ingredients to make a slightly pink pasta sauce encouraged by heavy cream, but let's start with the basics. A perfectly good recipe for classic Ham with Red Eye Gravy served with grits may be found here, courtesy of Paula Deen. Usually I reserve making grits with grits for Derby Day but I was duly inspired to make this gravy (without ham!) and serve it with steak instead over grits for something more autumnal. See below for Notes on a Side Dish with Brussels sprouts!
The recipe for the Red Eye is fairly simple. For enough gravy to serve four:
(3-pound) country ham, store bought, sliced
2 tablespoons fat from the ham
1/2 cup coffee
1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons butter
1 beef bouillon cube (optional) Heat
a skillet over medium-high heat. Add the fat from the ham and render. When the
fat is rendered, add the ham steaks and pan-fry until golden brown on both
sides. Remove the ham from the pan and set aside on a plate and keep warm. To
the pan, add the coffee and water and stir with a wooden spoon, scraping up any
browned bits from the bottom of the pan. Add the butter and the bouillon cube
and stir to incorporate. Serve the gravy over the ham steaks on grits.
I followed this somewhat but instead prepared a London Broil with lots of pepper and salt to go under the broiler, cooking as per package instructions. But first! I browned my steak (not ham) in a large skillet with some butter and smoked turkey wings, capturing the flavors before removing the steak and wings and deglazing the pan as the recipe suggests. I made the grits, per Deen (using only a tablespoon of butter, not 1/2 cup!) while my steak broiled and the gravy simmered. I then served the steak over the grits covered with the gravy. Deen mentions grits that need to simmer for 30 minutes but the Quaker brand does make quicker grits that only require about 5-7 minutes time.
To go beyond with a terrific pasta, try using the gravy as a solid foundation for sauce, as I did. While the pasta water was boiling, I trotted out more smoked turkey wings and added cubed pancetta too. I removed these before deglazing the pan with the coffee and water. I whisked in a judicious amount of heavy cream over medium low heat until thickened and added frozen peas (fresh certainly welcome) until warmed. Once the pasta was just al dente, I drained then tossed in grated pecorino cheese and topped with chopped chives and mint that I shredded by hand. A little fresh black pepper and dinner was served!
NOTES ON A SIDE DISH: I found shaved Brussels Sprouts at the market and tossed them with a little oil and salt in a skillet until slightly browned. They will simmer down so plan on a large handful of sprouts per person before going into the skillet. Once browned, add about a 1/4 cup of water in to the mix, stir and cover over low heat for about 7-10 minutes. A delicious complement to the pasta--oh, and dessert was a delightfully Dalmatian dish of orange yogurt with figs.
After weathering a soul-shredding career as a theatrical agent that lasted entirely too long, Mr. Sherwood left his stable of actors from the stage and screen and went on to pursue his literary aspirations. He is currently the dining editor for Next magazine (nextmagazine.com) where he writes a weekly restaurant review column which also features Manhattan's best food and drink recipes from the finest chef's and bartenders on the island. In 2010 he was published in Foodista’s Best of Food Blogs Cookbook. He toiled as web editor for industry leader Interior Design magazine for several years and has also written for New York magazine, Travel & Leisure and Woman’s Day.
A proud graduate of the University of New Hampshire, one of the nation’s top drinking schools, Mr. Sherwood also studied voice and theater abroad at Regent’s College, in London’s historic Regent’s Park, and at the Royal Academy of Music. He spent a year at Hunter College in Manhattan.
Mr. Sherwood recently published his first novel, the pale of memory, available on Amazon.com, BarnesAndNoble.com, and iUniverse.com. He is in the midst of writing a second.
Twitter/tweet/twat him @kaleidabox