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Prime Rib

Prime Rib Wakes-Up with Coffee & Chiles

by David Bulla

When the weather cools off, folks here in Texas start to think about certain food groups. Chili is up there on the list, as is anything else that's warm and satisfying. Hearty fare with a little kick is what I start thinking about.

The first thing I think about when I wake up in the morning and the house is chilly with the night air is the perfect cup of coffee. The smell of fresh coffee brewing fills me with anticipation for the first cup of the day. I usually make at least half a pot of coffee, which leaves me with several cups of coffee that get wasted every day, not to mention the fresh ground coffee beans that I make too much of as well. It just doesn't seem right to waste all that good stuff. So, naturally, I want to cook with it.

We all know that coffee and sugar are a natural combination. Many fantastic treats have been created using coffee as a major flavor. Yet, I want to take that a step further and show you ways to use your coffee with salt for savory food.

Coffee in its pure form is completely edible. I once knew a person who would eat a tablespoon of coffee in the morning as a signature joke because he didn't like to drink it. Ever had a chocolate covered coffee bean? They are fantastic! Coffee has a complex and wonderful bitter flavor and earthy caramel aroma that actually blends well with many savory ingredients. Let's start off by introducing you to one of the most fantastic combinations I have encountered in a long time - one that is in line with the idea of toasty, hearty food for cold weather: coffee and dried chilies.

Chilies have complex flavor and aromatic qualities that are very complimentary to coffee. When the two are mixed together with beef or pork, you get something indescribable. The aromas of roasted beef, roasted chilies and coffee combine to create a flavor that is hard to describe with any word other than fantastic. Drop your preconceived notions of what it might taste like, and give it a try. Not only do you get a nice new flavor, but you also get the added bonus of a tiny little bit of caffeine to help prevent the desire to take a nap after having a hearty meal.

Java Chili Prime Rib with Red-Eye Bourbon Sauce

Use whatever cut of beef you like. I think a nice piece of ribeye that is roasted whole is about the best cut for a roast. If you get it with the bones still on, it would be called a standing rib roast and it makes for a fantastic presentation on the table. Plan on at least 8 ounces per person. Rub the meat generously with the Ancho Coffee Dry Rub and let rest in the refrigerator overnight.

Roast on a rack in a roasting pan in a hot oven at 450F degrees until the desired internal temperature is reached. When it is done, it will be quite dark in color on the outside as a result of the coffee and the caramelization of the sugars in the rub. A good internal temperature for a medium-rare to medium roast is 120 to 130 degrees F while still cooking. When you take your roast out of the oven, it will continue to cook. The juices that were being drawn out of the meat towards the surface will redistribute towards the center as the temperature equalizes, bringing that heat back towards the center as it "rests." This is a very important part of the cooking process. Let your roast rest for at least 10 minutes before you cut it. While your roast is resting, make the sauce.

Red Eye Bourbon Sauce

  • 1 Shallot, finely minced
  • 1 cup Strong beef stock
  • 1 cup Leftover morning coffee
  • Strained drippings from roast pan mixed with 1 or 2 Tablespoons flour
  • 2 Tablespoons Heavy cream
  • 2 Tablespoons Bourbon
  • Salt and pepper to taste
In a saucepan, using a little bit of oil or fat drippings from the roast, saut the shallot until translucent. Add the beef stock and coffee and bring to a simmer. Cook until reduced by one-third. When the roast is rested and all the juices have accumulated in the pan, skim the fat off the top and then strain the juices through a fine mesh strainer. You should have about cup. More than that is even better, but make sure you compensate with the amount of flour you use. Mix in the flour and blend thoroughly to make "slurry." Add the slurry to the sauce, stirring constantly until the sauce returns to a simmer and begins to thicken. Adjust consistency by reducing to thicken more or adding more stock to thin. Add the cream and bourbon and adjust seasoning with salt and pepper to taste. Serve on the side with your roast.

Ancho Coffee Dry Rub

  • ½ cup Salt
  • ½ cup Brown sugar
  • ¼ cup Ancho chili powder
  • ¼ cup Espresso Grind Coffee (very fine grind)
  • ¼ cup Granulated garlic
  • ¼ cup Ground black pepper
Mix all ingredients together thoroughly. Sprinkle generously on beef or pork for roasting or slow smoking, rubbing into the meat and coating all surfaces. You want the meat to be completely covered with the dark mixture. Allow to rest overnight before cooking whenever possible, especially if the meat is not marinated first.

How else can we use coffee in savory dishes? What about barbecue? I hate to give out family secrets, but coffee has played a major part in my father's secret barbecue sauce recipe for years. Not only does it give subtle nuances of flavor to the sauce, it also adds a rich color. The following recipe is a little bit of a variation from my father's sauce, so I guess I am in the clear.

Night & Day Barbecue Sauce

It takes all day to make good Texas barbecue. We start off in the morning with a cup of coffee, and by the time the barbecue is ready to eat, it's time for a beer. This sauce is rich and dark in appearance.

  • 1 cup Chili sauce
  • Juice of 2 Fresh limes
  • ¼ cup Balsamic vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon Olive oil
  • 1 Large onion, finely minced
  • 2 cloves Garlic, finely minced
  • 12 ounces Dark beer
  • 1 cup strong brewed coffee
  • ½ cup Dark brown sugar; firm packed
  • 2 teaspoons Chili powder
  • 2 Tablespoons Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 Jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped fine
  • 1 small can Tomato paste (start with half a can, use as a thickening agent.)
  • Salt and pepper to taste
Heat the oil in a saucepan over medium heat and sweat the onions until soft. Add the garlic and continue to cook a few minutes. Add the remaining ingredients, holding back half the tomato paste, and bring to a simmer. Simmer over low heat for about an hour. Reduce the sauce until desired consistency or thicken with more tomato paste. Adjust seasoning with salt and pepper. Serve on the side with your favorite grilled and smoked meats, chicken or sausage.

On a final note, feel free to experiment with coffee. You can try substituting brewed coffee for water or wine in many sauce recipes. And you can substitute fine ground coffee for various dry ingredients. Give it a try.

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