Mom's Country Ham with Redeye Gravy

Recipe by: Mom (Shirley Knack)

Servings: 6

Prep time: 1:30

Categories: Main Course, Meat

Item Amount Measure Note
black pepper freshly ground
country ham slices 1 1/2 pounds
coffee 1 quart

Trim the fat off the country ham slices, leaving an eighth of an inch or less. Cut the meat into four-inch pieces and set aside. In a heavy or electric skillet, cook the fat over medium to medium high heat until it is browned and crisp. Remove the cracklings (crisped fat pieces) and drain on a paper towel or discard. Add the meat to the skillet and brown each slice on both sides.

Pour the coffee over the ham, add the pepper if desired, and reduce heat so that the gravy barely simmers. Cook covered until the meat is tender and the gravy has lost the coffee bitterness, about half an hour or slightly longer. If too much liquid boils away, you can add water, but be sure simmer it for a few minutes before serving, or your gravy will taste watery.

Serve hot. Biscuits and mashed potatoes are practically required with the meal, and it also goes well with green beans, black-eyed peas, fried okra, or collard greens. Leftovers reheat nicely in the microwave.

If you've never had Country Ham with Redeye Gravy, you've probably never had anything very much like it, either. Country ham is extremely salty and flavorful--nothing at all like the bland stuff you get at the corner deli. Redeye gravy is different too, in that it is not at all thickened. When you pour it on your mashed potatoes, it should immediately pool under your green beans and soak the bottom of your biscuit. Trust me.

Most of the redeye gravy recipes you see call for only a tablespoon or two of coffee, while some barbarians even advocate using instant! Mom's way is just plain better. I have altered her recipe just a little bit, though. Mom always leaves the fat on the meat because Dad likes it that way. My wife and kids are more of the Jack Sprat types, so I trim it first. But I don't let that good stuff go to waste: After you've fried up the trimmings as described below, you're left with the cracklin's to snack on while you're working in the kitchen. Them's good eatin's!