Red-Eye Gravy Glaze


Soaked, Slathered, and Seasoned

Published by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt

This image courtesy of Joseph DeLeo

Even though I am a proud card-carrying Southerner, I don’t smother my food with heavy gravies, preferring the flavors in a lighter application like this glaze. I fondly remember the sizzle and steam coming from my grandmother’s blackened pan as she made red-eye gravy in the mornings. After browning the ham, she’d deglaze the pan with the thick black coffee from her morning cup. As a child, its allure was a mystery to me, and I decided it must be an adult-acquired taste! Today, I use it as a glaze on just about everything, including brisket, pork butt, and catfish.

NotesGood for Slathering: Brisket; grilled ham, pork butt; catfish, salmon; grits



Total Timeunder 30 minutes

Dietary Considerationegg-free, gluten-free, lactose-free, peanut free, soy free, tree nut free

Five Ingredients or LessYes

Taste and Texturesavory, sharp, smoky, sweet

Type of Dishsauces


  • 1 ham steak or piece of slab bacon, or several pieces of country ham or thick-cut bacon, about 8 ounces
  • ¾ cup brewed espresso or strong coffee
  • ½ cup molasses
  • 1 tablespoon dark brown sugar
  • Pinch salt


  1. Heat a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Add the ham steak. Cook on both sides until browned and warmed through. Remove the meat from the pan when browned on the edges. (If using bacon, pour out any excess fat.)

  2. Raise the heat, and when the pan is really hot, pour in the espresso and scrape up the seasoned food bits from the pan surface. Add the molasses and brown sugar and stir into the coffee. Bring to a simmer, add salt, and taste. The glaze should be thick and black. Use immediately.


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