Fried Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy Recipe - Authentic Southern Cuisine from USA

Fried Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy

Fried Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy Recipe - Authentic Southern Cuisine from USA
Region / culture: USA | Preparation time: 10 minutes | Cooking time: 20 minutes | Servings: 4


Fried Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy
Fried Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy

Fried Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy is a classic Southern dish that combines the salty goodness of country ham with the rich flavor of coffee-infused gravy. This dish is perfect for breakfast or brunch and is sure to satisfy your cravings for a hearty and flavorful meal.


This recipe has its roots in Southern cuisine, where country ham has long been a staple in the diet of many families. The tradition of serving country ham with red-eye gravy dates back to the early 19th century, when cooks in the South discovered that the combination of salty ham and coffee-infused gravy created a delicious and unique flavor profile.


  • 1 lb (454 g) country ham, sliced and brewed
  • 0.75 cup strong coffee, freshly brewed

How to prepare

  1. Cut off a strip of fat from the outer rim of the ham, leaving some fat attached.
  2. Dice the strip of fat into small cubes.
  3. Using a sharp knife, make incisions in the remaining fat on the ham, cutting down to the meat.
  4. Place the cubed fat in a skillet, preferably made of black cast iron, and cook, stirring, until the fat is rendered.
  5. Remove and discard the rendered pieces of fat.
  6. Add the ham slice to the skillet and fry until it is nicely browned on one side.
  7. Flip the slice and continue frying until it is browned and cooked through.
  8. Remove the ham slice from the skillet.
  9. Pour the coffee into the skillet and cook, stirring, for about 1 minute.
  10. Cut the ham slice into 2 to 4 pieces and serve the gravy on the side, to be poured over grits and/or spooned over the ham pieces.


  • For a twist on this classic dish, try adding a splash of bourbon or Worcestershire sauce to the gravy for extra flavor.

Cooking Tips & Tricks

Be sure to cut off the strip of fat from the ham before cooking, as this will help render the fat and add flavor to the dish.

- Use a cast iron skillet for frying the ham, as this will help create a nice crust on the outside of the meat.

- Be careful not to overcook the ham, as it can become tough and dry if cooked for too long.

Serving Suggestions

Serve the Fried Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy with grits, biscuits, or scrambled eggs for a complete Southern breakfast.

Cooking Techniques

Frying the ham in a cast iron skillet helps to create a nice crust on the outside of the meat, while also rendering the fat for the gravy.

Ingredient Substitutions

If you can't find country ham, you can use regular ham or bacon as a substitute.

Make Ahead Tips

You can fry the ham and make the gravy ahead of time, then reheat them together just before serving.

Presentation Ideas

Serve the ham slices on a platter with the gravy drizzled over the top for a rustic and inviting presentation.

Pairing Recommendations

This dish pairs well with a side of collard greens, black-eyed peas, or fried green tomatoes.

Storage and Reheating Instructions

Store any leftovers in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. Reheat in a skillet over low heat until warmed through.

Nutrition Information

Calories per serving

200 per serving


1g per serving


- Total Fat: 10g per serving

- Saturated Fat: 4g per serving


- Protein: 20g per serving

Vitamins and minerals

Iron: 15% of the daily recommended intake per serving


This recipe contains pork and coffee, which may be allergens for some individuals.


This dish is a good source of protein and iron, but is high in fat and calories. It should be enjoyed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.


Fried Country Ham with Red-eye Gravy is a delicious and satisfying dish that is perfect for a Southern-style breakfast or brunch. With its salty ham, rich coffee-infused gravy, and hearty flavors, this dish is sure to become a new favorite in your recipe repertoire.

How did I get this recipe?

The first time I saw this recipe, I was immediately intrigued. It was a hot summer day and I was visiting my Aunt Ruth in the countryside. As soon as I walked into her cozy kitchen, I was greeted by the mouthwatering aroma of sizzling ham and coffee. Aunt Ruth was busy at the stove, frying up slices of country ham and preparing the infamous red-eye gravy.

I had never heard of red-eye gravy before, but Aunt Ruth assured me it was a Southern delicacy that I just had to try. She explained that it was made by deglazing the pan with strong black coffee, creating a rich and flavorful sauce to drizzle over the crispy ham. I watched in awe as she expertly flipped the ham slices, making sure they were perfectly browned on both sides.

As I sat down at the table to enjoy my first taste of fried country ham with red-eye gravy, I was transported back to my childhood. Memories of my own grandmother cooking up delicious meals in her kitchen flooded my mind. I realized that I had inherited her love for cooking and sharing recipes with loved ones.

Aunt Ruth noticed the nostalgic look on my face and asked me if I wanted to learn how to make the dish myself. I eagerly accepted her offer and she began to teach me the secret to creating the perfect fried country ham with red-eye gravy.

She explained that the key to a good country ham is to soak it in water overnight to remove some of the saltiness. Then it is important to pat it dry before frying it up in a hot skillet. The ham should be cooked until it is crispy and browned on the outside, but still juicy on the inside.

Next, Aunt Ruth showed me how to make the red-eye gravy. She poured strong black coffee into the hot skillet, scraping up all the delicious brown bits from the bottom. She added a splash of water and let the gravy simmer until it thickened to the perfect consistency.

As we sat down to enjoy our meal, Aunt Ruth shared stories of how she had learned to make fried country ham with red-eye gravy. She told me that she had picked up the recipe from her own grandmother, who had learned it from her mother before her. It was a cherished family tradition that had been passed down through the generations.

I listened intently as Aunt Ruth recounted the fond memories she had of cooking with her grandmother in the kitchen. She told me about the laughter, the love, and the joy that came from sharing a delicious meal with family and friends. I could see the twinkle in her eye as she spoke, and I knew that I wanted to carry on this tradition in my own kitchen.

After that day, I made fried country ham with red-eye gravy a regular dish in my own home. I would invite friends and family over to enjoy the comforting flavors and warm memories that came with each bite. I would tell them the story of how I learned to make the dish from Aunt Ruth, and how it had become a symbol of love and connection for me.

As I look back on that summer day in Aunt Ruth's kitchen, I am grateful for the gift of her wisdom and her recipes. I am thankful for the heritage of cooking that has been passed down to me, and I am inspired to continue sharing the joy of food with those I love. And so, whenever I make fried country ham with red-eye gravy, I am reminded of the love that is woven into each dish, and I am grateful for the memories that will continue to be made around my table.


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