Chef Time!

Chef Time!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Creative Cooking With Coffee

The season for rich hearty meals is here, and a guaranteed way to add depth to any dish is with the signature aroma, dark color and potent flavor of coffee. A new and creative culinary approach for coffee has transformed it from a favorite breakfast beverage into a versatile aromatic ingredient perfect for everything from steak to stew. Here are some creative ways to incorporate coffee into your cooking.


Low maintenance braises and roasts are especially appealing during the rush of the holiday season, using coffee as a braising liquid not only infuses the meat with extra flavor, it makes a great base for a complimentary sauce. Like wines usually for braising, coffee is fairly acidic, which is important when slow cooking really tough cuts of beef. Include a cup of strong, cold brewed coffee or espresso in your next braise along with your chuck roast, short ribs or stew meat. It’s important to note, that cold brewing takes the bitterness out of the coffee, which is important for a liquid that will be reduced and it’s flavors remain concentrated.

Coffee Braised Beef with Cinnamon and Orange

I like coffee. I like it hot, I like it cold. I like it black, I like it creamy and sweet. I like it in a mug, I like it in a paper cup. I like it with breakfast, I like it with my pot roast.
Wait. What? 
Coffee? Pot roast? Yes, you read correctly. I’m not losing it. I like it with my pot roast. That is to say, I like my pot roast braised in it. 
The more I think of the two together, the more normal it seems. I’ve heard of people getting very distinct ‘beefy’ tastes shortly after drinking a cup of coffee. I don’t think I’ve ever experienced that, but like cocoa, the bold flavor only seemed natural to pair with beef. 
This braise turned out incredibly well for my first coffee/meat experiment. It’s hard to describe a specific flavor from it since the addition of citrus and cinnamon really played in well with the beef. I didn’t serve the roast with potatoes like I normally would, but instead relied on some carrots and parsnips to beef (har har) up the meal.
If you’re opposed to incredibly tender, flavorful beef that can hardly hold itself together when you finally remove it from the oven… don’t make this. You won’t like it. Not one bit.
This pot roast packs a punch in the flavor department and is extremely easy to make. I would suggest, though, that you make it on a day when you’re home and can start it early in the afternoon. Otherwise you’ll be eating at 8:30pm, like me. 
If you like a starch with your meat, serve with some egg noodles or potatoes of your choice. 

1 large onion, chopped (1 ½ c.)
1 ½ tbsp. olive oil
2 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 ¼ c. strong brewed coffee
3 (3 by 1 inch) strips fresh orange zest
1 (3 inch) cinnamon stick
2 tsp. packed brown sugar
1 (3 ½ lb.) boneless beef chuck roast
1 ½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. black pepper

Put oven rack in middle position and preheat oven to 325.
Cook onion in oil in a 4 to 5 quart heavy pot or dutch oven over moderately high heat, stirring, until golden, about 6 minutes. Add garlic and cook, stirring, 1 minute. Stir in coffee, zest, cinnamon stick, and brown sugar, then bring to a simmer. Sprinkle beef with salt and pepper, then add to pot. Transfer pot to oven and braise, tightly covered, until meat is very tender, 3 ½ to 4 hours.
Skim fat from sauce and discard cinnamon stick.


Coffee makes a wonderful marinade, in addition to complimenting the natural flavors of the beef. A basic coffee marinade consist of balsamic vinegar or apple cider vinegar, olive oil, a sweetener such as sugar or syrup, a cup of room temperature or cold brewed black coffee. Add some salt and pepper and your favorite herbs or seasonings to taste then let the meat marinade in a plastic zip lock bag in the refrigerator for several hours or overnight. This method is great for bavette steak, flank steak and skirt steak.

Coffee Peppercorn Steak Marinade:

3 tbsp. strong brewed coffee 
1 tbsp. balsamic vinegar 
1 tbsp. olive oil 
1 tbsp. brown sugar 
2 cloves garlic, minced 
1 tsp. whole black peppercorns, crushed 
½ tsp. salt

Mix all ingredients and pour into a dish that your steaks can lay flat in, then placed them in the dish covered and marinated in the refrigerator for a few hours, turning occasionally. Cook with whatever your desired method is to your preferred level of “done.”
Marinade Verdict: This is hands down the best steak marinade I have ever had the pleasure of having on my steak. My search has now ended and this will be the only marinade I will ever use, ever again! It’s just fabulous! I was worried it would be too sweet but it was not at all! 

Deglazing Liquid

For deglazing, coffee’s similarity with wines makes it a great substitute. The acidity of the coffee will unstick the browned bits from the bottom of the roasting pan or skillet and release all the flavors that are there. To deglaze with coffee, pour a slightly chilled blend of your favorite coffee into the pan and scrape along the bottom of the pan with a wooden spoon or spatula.


To top off a rich and flavorful steak with a sauce that can hold it’s own, it’s easier to start with the coffee that was used for braising or deglazing. After removing the meat and the add ins from the skillet or pan, skim off any fat from the top, add other liquids like wine or vinegar if desired, then thicken the sauce with a roux or cornstarch slurry. Sauces can also be thickened by way of reduction.
Coffee is also commonly found in barbecue sauces. In the days of the Wild West, cowboys discovered that boiled coffee was safer to use than the available non-potable water. It pairs so well with traditional barbecue sauce ingredients like bourbon, sugar and molasses.

Rubs and Spice Blends

This is an even less conventional use for coffee; this technique sets aside the coffeemaker to make use of the texture and deep earthy flavor of the coffee beans. Grounded coffee beans make a great addition to a rub for roasts, especially prime rib. To make a dry rub, ground coffee, white or brown sugar, paprika, chili powder or cayenne flakes, salt and pepper, onion or garlic powder, and other spices for seasoning for steaks, roasts and yes, for burgers even. Just combine the ingredients of your choice in equal portions, pat dry the meat, then coat it in a thick layer of the mixture before roasting, smoking or searing.

Three-Ingredient Prime Rib Roast

1/3 c. finely ground coffee
2 tbsp. kosher salt
1 tbsp. freshly ground black pepper
¼ vanilla bean split and seeds scraped
12 pound bone-in prime rib roast (5 bones)

In a bowl, thoroughly blend the coffee with the salt, pepper and vanilla bean seeds. Set the rib roast in a roasting pan and rub it all over with the coffee mixture, concentrating most of the rub on the fatty part of the meat. Turn the roast bone side down and let stand at room temperature for 30 minutes.
Preheat the oven to 450. Roast the meat for 15 minutes. Reduce the oven temperature to 325 and roast for about 2 1/2 hours longer, until an instant-read thermometer inserted in the thickest part of the meat registers 125 for medium-rare.
Transfer the roast to a carving board and let rest for 20 minutes. Scrape off any excess coffee rub. Carve the meat in 1/2-inch-thick slices and serve.

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