Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Coffee & Steak Yields Great Smoky Flavor

Good evening everyone! I’ve got something different lined up for my portion of the blog this week. Like most of the country, we took advantage of the Memorial Day holiday and spent some quality time outdoors, including some time spent behind the grill. Rather than posting our entire Memorial Day spread in one big blog, I thought I’d break things down into two “mini-blogs”.

Today’s first mini-blog features a cooking technique that you may have seen on many Food Network or cooking channel shows (especially ‘Chopped’ or ‘Iron Chef’) – cooking your steak with ground coffee. At first glance, it seems a bit odd, coffee on steak? Why would you want to flavor your steak with coffee? Yet, time after time, chefs on these cooking competitions use the technique and are widely praised for their flavorful steak. Clearly there’s something there – I aimed to find out just what was so special about coffee covered steaks.

The process is fairly straightforward. Simply divide 1 teaspoon of ground coffee amongst your steaks (already seasoned lightly with salt and pepper) cover both side of the steak with ground coffee (remember, you’re not “breading” the steak with coffee – treat it like a seasoning) and place the steak on the grill. Cook the steak like you normally would and simply enjoy.

While I was cooking the steaks I noticed something interesting – the steaks were developing a deep red coloration around the edges, this is the tell-tale sign of smoked meat. (If you’ve ever cooked meat on a smoker or eaten at a good BBQ joint, you’ll recognize that bright red coloration as a sure fire sign of well done smoky flavor).

First cuts into the steak revealed the same situation, the first ¼ inch of the steak had a nice, deep red color (the ‘smoke’ had penetrated the steak – another good sign for BBQ). Color and presentation are all well and good, but did the coffee change the flavor?

Yes, it did. The coffee created a great, smoky flavor. The steaks tasted like they had been cooked over a smoker for hours, not simply grilled for 10 minutes. Surprisingly, there was absolutely no coffee flavor – just rich, smoky flavor that blended superbly with steak sauce or stood up nicely on its own (sans sauce).

It turns out the secret of coffee on steaks is that it creates a great smoked meat like end product. You don’t have to increase cooking time or even change the cooking method. Just a light rub of ground coffee and – ta-da – you’re eating smoked steaks.

If you’re feeling like tweaking your usual steak dinner, I’d recommend giving the ground coffee technique a try. It adds a great deal of flavor without changing any of the usual aspects of cooking a steak. Best of all, we now understand why everyone keeps using this technique on all of the cooking shows!

That’s all for min-blog number one. Maggie will step into the kitchen tomorrow night for her own full fledged recipe. I’ll follow her on Friday with mini-blog number two. Until then,


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