When I was a kid, my Dad worked as a manager at a truck stop restaurant in my little hometown. “The Red Horse” was located out by the interstate, on the outskirts of town. I didn’t get to go to Dad’s job often, but whenever I did, I always loved it! I loved watching the people, seeing the trucks roll in. The truckers would fill up their trucks with gas and then, once that was settled, fill up their bellies with great food! Nothing fancy, but it was indeed great food! One of the perennial favorites was always grits with red eye gravy! I’ve taken it up a few notches with Triple Pepper Grit Cakes with Red Eye Gravy which is Vegan, Gluten Free and absolutely delicious!
Now, when they placed an order for grits and red eye gravy, they could count on getting a plate loaded with grits dripping with butter, a thick slice of country ham, a couple of eggs…all covered with a big helping of red eye gravy! If you’ve never heard of red eye gravy, it’s traditionally a rich gravy made by deglazing the pan with coffee after frying a slice of ham. Per one website ( http://whatscookingamerica.net/History/CountryHamHistory.htm) , ” According to legend and not necessarily facts, Andrew Jackson (1767-1845), 7th President of the United States, who was an American General at the time, called his cook over to tell him what to prepare. The cook had been drinking “moonshine” corn whiskey the night before and his eyes were as red as fire. General Jackson told the cook to bring him some country ham with gravy as red as his eyes. Some men nearby heard the general and from then on, ham gravy became “Red Eye Gravy.”” I don’t know if this story is really true, but it sure sounds good. 🙂
Now, I won’t deny that, in the past, I consumed my fair share of butter and ham, but, that’s not generally how I eat today. But, after having a delicious grit cake at a quaint little restaurant in New Bern, North Carolina, I was inspired to see if I could create a vegan and gluten free version of this deliciousness on a plate! (Shout out to 247 Craven http://www.247craven.com/! Dear hubby took me there for our 30th Anniversary. Food and atmosphere to die for! Only 12 tables, so I was glad he was able to get a reservation! So worth it!!) They served theirs with local soft-shelled crab and local vegetable succotash. I decided to go a different way with my grit cake.
Chocked full of fresh vegetables, my version is both vegan and gluten free…without sacrificing any of the flavor or richness associated with really good grits. And, if you’ve only eaten instant grits, you’ve been missing out on life, cause honey, instant grits ain’t good grits! (And, if you’ve never, ever eaten grits or don’t know what they are, then we really need to talk! No, really….we need to talk!!) I used a local brand of stone ground yellow grits…just be sure that if you want to keep these gluten free, you check the label to insure that your chosen brand is certified gluten free. There are several on the market to choose from, including Bob’s Red Mill and other companies. By the way, a great place to get vegan and gluten free products is at The Thrive Market, check it out! You’ll be glad you did! You can even register to win $1000 in free groceries at the Thrive Market. Register here: http://go.thrv.me/SH22V
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Once I got the grit cake recipe the way I liked it, next, I turned to the question of how to make red eye gravy without using country ham. After all, isn’t country ham essential to red eye gravy? Turns out, not so much. I got that rich, smokey flavor associated with ham by crisping a few slices of tempeh bacon and blending them into the gravy. Believe me when I tell you that this stuff is missing none of the flavor! True confession: this gravy is so good that I ate a bowl of it ..all by itself…while I was waiting for the grits to chill.
The real magic of this recipe is that you can use whatever vegetable combination you like in your grits. Just use whatever makes your mouth sing a happy song! Enjoy!!
If you put good things in, you will get good things out! Local Stone Ground Grits and Coconut MilkPrint
Triple Pepper Grit Cakes (Vegan and Gluten Free)
Stone ground grit cakes packed full of fresh vegetables: three types of peppers, fresh corn, onions and garlic. Perfect drizzled with a rich vegan red eye gravy and paired with a couple of slices of ripe, red tomatoes.
- Prep Time: 20 minutes
- Cook Time: 35 minutes
- Total Time: 55 minutes
- Yield: 4 persons 8 cakes
- 2 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1 medium Red Bell Pepper (medium dice)
- 1 medium Jalapeno Pepper (Deseeded and medium dice)
- 1 Large Cubanelle Pepper (Deseeded and medium dice)
- 1 small Yellow Onion (Medium dice)
- 4 cloves garlic (crushed)
- 1 cup Stone Ground Grits ((I used a local brand. Make sure to confirm that your brand is gluten-free. You can purchase Bob’s Red Mill at http://go.thrv.me/SH287))
- 1 13.5 oz can Coconut Milk (I use full-fat coconut milk. )
- 1 cup boiling water
- 1 tsp Sea Salt (more or less, to taste)
- Pepper to taste
- 1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- In a large skillet, heat olive oil over medium heat. Add diced peppers and onions and saute for 5 -7 minutes until cooked but not browned. Add garlic and cook another 30-45 seconds, being careful not to brown the garlic. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a heavy bottom sauce pan, stir the coconut milk into the grits.
- Add the boiling water and the seasoning
- Stir well and cook over low heat for 15-20 minutes, depending upon the coarseness of your grits, until soft.
- Stir in sauteed vegetables and remove from heat.
- In prepared 8 x 8 baking pan (lined with parchment paper), pour grits and smooth out in an even layer. Place in refrigerator for 1 to 2 hours until and completely set.
- When grits are set, cut with biscuit cutter or into squares. Heat 1 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil in large, heavy bottom frying pan. Saute individual grit cakes over medium heat until golden brown, turning once. Great served with red eye gravy and sliced tomatoes.
Red Eye Gravy (Vegan and Gluten Free)
Rich, Dark Delicious Red Eye Gravy. Sassy and Southern with black coffee and Vegan tempeh bacon. Perfect for drizzling over a stack of Triple Pepper Grit Cakes.
- Prep Time: 10 minutes
- Cook Time: 15 minutes
- Total Time: 25 minutes
- Yield: 2 1/2 cups
- 1 (about 5 slices) cup fakin’ bacon (Louisville Vegan Jerky Co MAPLE BACON VEGAN JERKY is a great choice! It can be purchased through the Thrive Market http://go.thrv.me/SH287)
- 3 TB Extra Virgin Olive Oil
- 1/3 cup Brown Rice Flour
- Ground Cayenne, Sea Salt and Creole Seasoning (To taste)
- 1/2 cup water
- 1 1/2 cup Day old coffee
- 1 tsp Coconut Sugar
- In medium saute pan, heat 1 TB oil over medium heat. Add fakin’ bacon and cook for 2 – 3 minutes or until brown. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Add remaining oil to pan. Then, add flour, stirring constantly to make a roux. Cook until light brown, being careful not to burn the roux.
- Add coffee and water to roux, stirring constantly until a nice gravy consistency. Add ground cayenne, sea salt and Creole seasoning to taste. Remove from heat.
- Combine gravy and reserved fakin’ bacon in a bowl, add coconut sugar and blend with an immersion blender until no large pieces of bacon remain. Alternatively, you can blend in a standard blender. Delicious served with Triple Pepper Grit Cakes!