Sometimes, after a long night of celebrating your husband’s birthday, you need a breakfast that is more than a breakfast. A breakfast that is comforting, delicious, and yeah, a little greasy. A little salt and meat and coffee that goes a long way.
We had an incredible group of friends with us last weekend, and it was my great pleasure to feed them. I love feeding people, it’s one of my personality traits that comes from all sides of my family- the desire to nurture and nourish, the love of hosting, the inherent food pushing. We cooked and ate so much that it was a whirlwind, but this may have been the meal I loved cooking the most. Some of my closest friends from across my 27 years of life, all sitting in my kitchen drinking coffee and laughing and enjoying each other as I stirred the grits, fried the eggs, browned the meat, whisked the gravy. It was a perfect morning, and I wouldn’t trade it for the world (even with the hangover).
Red eye gravy is a simple combinations of drippings, usually from country ham that’s been fried in a skillet, and black coffee. The combination (plus a bit of butter), creates a thin gravy that adds depth and richness to the grits, eggs, ham, and everything else it touches. It’s unlike anything else on the breakfast menu.
Country Ham, Grits, and Eggs with Red Eye Gravy
16 slices of country ham
2 cups dried yellow corn grits
6 cups of water
2 cups heavy cream
1/2 stick butter
1 cup black coffee
Salt and pepper
In a large pot, heat salted water to a boil. Stir in grits and cream, and reduce to a simmer. Allow to simmer, stirring frequently, until thick.
Melt a pat of butter in a large skillet. Fry the ham for 2-3 minutes on each side or until browned. Place in a warm oven to keep temperature. As you’re frying your ham, heat another pat of butter in a second skillet. Fry eggs over easy or to preferred yolk runniness, also placing in a warm oven to keep. Add more butter to the pan as necessary to keep the eggs from sticking.
When your ham is cooked melt remaining butter in pan and stir in coffee. Whisk thoroughly, incorporating any drippings from the ham into the gravy. Plate each dish with grits, two slices of ham, and an egg. Drizzle gravy over everything and serve hot.