Red eye gravy should be a ‘no-brainah’

Yankee Chef logoBy Jim Bailey

bet most of you will cook a ham steak in a skillet and start soaking that same skillet so that the food is easily cleaned after dinner. Time to put a stop to that! By taking a couple of extra minutes and using those flavorful fonds stuck to your pan, you will have the most enjoyable slice of ham.

The South has nothing on our version of a classic, timeless red eye gravy by adding our own little touch. The flavor of apple is a “no-brainah” when it comes to ham, or any pork product actually. I suggest using cranberry juice as well, or even a combination of each.


New England red eye gravy over a ham steak.

3 tablespoons butter or margarine
½-1 pound smoked boneless ham, about 1/2” thick
1 cup brewed coffee*
1 cup apple cider or juice
1/4 cup molasses
2 tablespoons light or half-and-half cream
1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
Salt and pepper, to taste

Add butter to a large skillet (I use cast iron for this recipe) and melt over medium heat.

Add ham steak and cook for 5 to 7 minutes per side, or until nicely browned. Remove to plate, cover to keep warm with tin foil and set aside.

Add coffee and cider to skillet. Bring to a boil, scraping the bottom of the skillet to lift the fonds. Continue boiling an additional 3 minutes. Add molasses, cream and cloves, whisking well. Continue cooking and stirring until smooth and thick, about 1 minute. Remove from heat, season to taste with salt and pepper and serve with ham steak.

* Your coffee should be very strong. If you are one of the very few who likes their coffee so strong “your spoon can stand up in it,” then you are fine. But I suggest you take 2 cups brewed coffee and boil it down to one cup for this recipe.

Yankee Chef book coverSchiffer Books of Pennsylvania has released Jim Bailey’s new book The Yankee Chef: Feel Good Food for Every Kitchen. It contains more than 550 traditional New England comfort-food recipes tweaked for today’s palates with hundreds of kitchen tips and food facts. The hardback book is 312 pages and contains 200 color images. Its ISBN is 978-0-7643-4191-5 and the cost is $34.99. The book can be ordered through Misty Valley Books, 802-875-3400.

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Filed Under: Community and Arts LifeThe Yankee Chef

About the Author: Jim Bailey is a third generation Yankee Chef, New England food historian and newspaper columnist. His first cookbook, simply titled The Yankee Chef, has been published. He welcomes all feedback, questions or comments at

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