Take the redeye

The other night I made one of our favorite recipes, potato galette. Laurie said, “Okay, but that’s just potatoes and cheese. That’s not really dinner.”

“Fine,” I said. “I’ll get some ham.” I bought a slice of Hempler’s ham. Iris absolutely loves ham. On the way home, I thought, “Hmm. Ham is not really dinner, either.” So I stopped for a cup of coffee at Caffe Ladro. I was going to make redeye gravy.

Redeye gravy is something I’d read about but never tried. In Pig Perfect, Peter Kaminsky talks about working his way through a country ham, cooking a couple of slices at a time and making redeye gravy. As far as I can tell, redeye gravy may have a bit of flour or pepper or brown sugar added, but it’s basically just coffee used to deglaze your ham-frying pan.

I’m embarrassed to admit it, but country ham is also something I’ve read about but never tried. You see plenty of prosciutto and serrano ham in Seattle sold by the slice, but not Southern country ham. I’ve heard you can get Smithfield ham, which Kaminsky says is not particularly good, in Chinese groceries, but I haven’t seen it–not that I’ve particularly remembered to look.

Anyway, back to my city ham and gravy. I browned the ham in a skillet and deglazed with coffee, into which I sprinkled a pinch of brown sugar and cayenne.

I tasted the gravy. I’m not sure what I expected. It tasted like vaguely spicy coffee. Then I poured some on my ham. Bingo. The bitterness of the coffee cuts the sweetness of the ham cure. There’s some more ham in the fridge. I’m thinking ahead to snacktime already.