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A Meditation on Biscuits, Tomatoes and Red-Eye Gravy |

A Meditation on Biscuits, Tomatoes and Red-Eye Gravy

Since his mother came from a generation of cooks who never measured, let alone wrote anything down, coaxing recipes from her wasn’t easy. “She got mad at me more than once,” Bragg recalls. “She would say ‘a good handful’ or ‘a little of this’ or ‘some’ — well, what in the hell is ‘some’? And how long do you cook it? ‘Until it’s done.’ Well, when is it done? ‘When it smells right!’” He adds, “Some chefs have asked me if we did recipe testing. The answer is hell no. Mostly it was her sitting there, talking me through recipes, and me, a non-cook, trying to make those translations. Am I stripping away our credibility here? Well, I just think it’s all part of the adventure!”

There’s one dish that evokes Bragg’s Southern childhood above all others: red-eye gravy over diced tomato and biscuit. “It has all but vanished from kitchens, even in the working, blue-collar South,” he explains. “It’s a hot biscuit opened up, covered with room-temperature tomato (you don’t want a cold tomato), drizzled over with red-eye gravy, which is hot grease from frying pork or ham mixed with hot brewed coffee.


“You know,” he adds, “one pastry shop smells like another to me. But the smell of hot red-eye gravy is unique. It’s the one thing that really brings me back. I smell it and I can hear the clock ticking.”

Category: Skillets  Tags: ,  Comments off
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