by Jolene Adams, coordinator, LLCC Culinary Institute
If you’re like me, you start the day with a good cup of coffee. I’m a big fan of coffee; I enjoy drinking it hot, on ice, with cream and sugar, a little flavoring, a little spice, as espresso poured over frothed milk, just about any style of drink will do. I also enjoy desserts made with coffee, like the classic tiramisu.
Chocolate and coffee are just one of the great flavor combinations that create many decadent desserts. But did you know that coffee can be used as a savory ingredient in cooking? Coffee grounds can be used as a rub for almost any type of meat. Just like red wine, coffee is acidic. It’s those acidic tones in coffee that pair well with the savory tones of meat. When combined, the two make a delicious flavor.
Coffee, whether ground or brewed, acts like a spice. Like any spice, coffee works best paired with other spices. Adding coffee to a spice rub will accentuate the flavors of the meat and when cooked, the grounds will caramelize and form crust that seals in the moisture of the meat.
But coffee does so much more than just enhance the flavor of meat. It also acts as a tenderizer. The best way to use the tenderizing power of coffee is to brew a strong pot, let that chill and then marinade the meat in the coffee for at least 24 hours. The reason coffee tenderizes so well is not because of the acid level in coffee. Instead, it’s the natural enzymes of the coffee that do the tenderizing work. Still not convinced? Try it yourself with any one of these fantastic recipes adapted from Food and Wine Magazine.
Three Ingredient Prime Rib
Yield: 10 servings
1/3 cup finely ground coffee
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon freshly ground black pepper
1/4 vanilla bean, split and seeds scraped
One 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.
The coffee-rubbed roast can be refrigerated overnight. Bring to room temperature before roasting.
Dry-Rubbed Salmon Tacos with Tomatillo-Avocado Slaw
Yield: 4 servings
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1 teaspoon chili powder
1 teaspoon brown sugar
1/4 teaspoon finely ground coffee
Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste
Two 8-ounce skinless, center-cut salmon fillets
Extra-virgin olive oil, for brushing
2 tomatillos, husked and quartered
2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1 small jalapeño, seeded and quartered
1 garlic clove
6 tablespoons sour cream
1 ripe Hass avocado-halved, peeled and pitted
4 cups finely shredded red and green cabbages (12 ounces)
8 corn tortillas
Hot sauce and lime wedges, for serving
In a small bowl, stir the cumin with the chili powder, brown sugar and coffee. Season generously with salt and pepper. Brush the salmon fillets with olive oil and dredge them in the spice mixture.
Meanwhile, in a food processor or blender, puree the tomatillos with the cilantro, jalapeño and garlic until smooth. Add the sour cream and process until smooth, then add the avocado and pulse until creamy. Transfer the dressing to a large bowl and season with salt and pepper. Add the cabbage and toss to coat.
Preheat the oven to 300°. Preheat a grill pan. Lightly brush each tortilla with olive oil. Stack the tortillas and wrap them in foil. Bake for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, brush the grill pan with olive oil and grill the salmon fillets over high heat, turning once, until nearly cooked through, 8 to 9 minutes. Transfer the salmon to a plate and flake with a fork.
Fill the tortillas with the salmon. Top with the cabbage slaw and serve right away with the hot sauce and lime wedges.
This earthy coffee rub is perfect for ribs, as it should be since it is from Southern Illinois’ 17th Street Barbecue restaurants. Recipe adapted from Saveur.
1⁄4 cup finely ground coffee
2 tablespoon dark brown sugar, firmly packed
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 tablespoon kosher salt
1 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1⁄2 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 1⁄2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1 1⁄2 teaspoon granulated onion
1⁄2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Mix all ingredients until combined. The rub will stay stored in an airtight container for up to 3 months.
Looking for more fun ways to use coffee? Join us for a Girls Night Out Coffee Buzz class on Friday, April 14. Check out our Facebook page for more information https://www.facebook.com/LincolnLandCommunityCollegeCulinaryInstitute/.
Lincoln Land Community College offers credit programs in Culinary Arts, Hospitality Management, Baking/Pastry, and Value Added Local Food, and non-credit cooking and food classes through our Community Learning Culinary Institute. For more information, visit our website at www.llcc.edu. Cooking or food questions? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.