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Author Notes: Red eye gravy is a traditional southern recipe that consists of country ham drippings and strong black coffee. There are a handful of stories telling how red eye gravy came into existence. My favorite tells of President Andrew Jackson requesting a gravy to accompany his country ham that matched the redness of his cook’s eyes (who was recovering from a night of drinking). This sauce is traditionally made by deglazing a cast iron skillet with a cup of black coffee after cooking country ham (bacon or sausage is sometimes used). This recipe is a version of that. Instead of country ham, I cook salt pork until the fat is rendered and then sear pork chops in this fat. The pan is deglazed with 1 cup of strong black coffee, a splash or two of whiskey and a few spices. What is left is a thin gravy rich in coffee flavor and the perfect brightener to pork chops, grits and buttered peas. The method of preparation of grits comes from Sean Brock’s cookbook Heritage. There is no cheese in these grits, however, white cheddar would be an excellent addition. —A Pleasant Little Kitchen
Serves 4 to 6
Pan Seared Pork Chops with Red Eye Gravy
- 1/4 pound uncured salt pork, quartered
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 2 tablespoons brown sugar
- 3-4 bone in pork chops (opt for the larger, thicker cut if available)
- 1/4 cup water
- 2 tablespoons whiskey
- 1 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
- About 30 minutes to one hour before cooking, remove the pork chops from the fridge to bring to room temperature.
- Heat the oven to 400 degrees.
- In a large cast iron skillet, combine 1 1/2 tablespoon of canola oil and the salt pork. Brown the pieces over medium heat for about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, coat the pork chops with the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil, 1 1/2 teaspoon salt, red pepper flakes and brown sugar.
- Turn the heat up to medium-high and add the pork chops to the skillet. Brown the meat for a total of 7 minutes, 3 1/2 minutes per side (the time will vary, depending on the thickness of the pork chop).
- Place the meat on a rimmed and warmed baking sheet. Place in the oven and cook for 7 minutes, or until the temperature of the thickest part of the pork chop reaches close to 160 degrees. Remove the meat and cover with foil. Let the pork chops rest for 10 minutes.
- Deglaze the skillet with the water and whiskey. Scrape up the brown bits and simmer for about 1 minute.
- Meanwhile, add the coffee, dry mustard, oregano and honey. Stir to combine and bring to boil. Reduce the heat and let the gravy simmer for about 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
- Serve the pork chops whole or thinly sliced, with grits and buttered peas. Top with red eye gravy.
Grits and Buttered Peas
- 2 cups grits
- 8 cups water
- 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
- 3 tablespoons unsalted butter
- 2 cups peas (frozen or fresh)
- Place the grits and water in a large pan. Cover and let sit overnight, or at least up to 6 hours.
- Skim the surface and remove the hulls and chaff that have floated to the top. Be sure to not disturb the water too much.
- Pour the grits and its water into a large pan, enough to allow the grits to double in size. Place the pan on the stovetop. Bring to a rapid boil, and stir constantly. Once it boils and water has turned opaque. Cover and remove from the heat. Let rest for 10 minutes.
- Place the grits back on the stovetop and cook over low heat, stirring frequently. Cook for about an hour, or until the grits are tender.
- Add salt, lemon juice and 2 tablespoons butter, stir well.
- Meanwhile, bring a pan of water to boil. Add the peas, cook for about 90 seconds. Strain the peas from the water.
- Place the peas in a medium size bowl, add 1 tablespoon butter. Stir until the butter is melted and the peas are thoroughly coated.
- Salt to taste and serve warm with grits, pan seared pork chops and red eye gravy.
- This recipe was entered in the contest for Your Best Recipe Made with Coffee