Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Coffee Marinated Steak from PaleOMG

Recently, I attended a Coffee 101 class at Texas Coffee Traders, a local coffee roaster.  I found my way to Texas Coffee Traders after having really good cups of coffee at Alamo Drafthouse (served in french press) and 24 Diner.  When both told me their beans had come from Texas Coffee Traders, I knew I needed to go to their store at their warehouse/roasting facility. I'm so glad I did.  Just open the door and you will be intoxicated by the smell of freshly roasted coffee beans.  The staff there is so knowledgeable and willing to help you find a coffee you will love and insure you have the brewing equipment to make it.  They will also fix you a coffee drink to enjoy while you shop.  I had the best cup of black iced coffee I've ever had while shopping there once.  I jumped at the chance to participate in their monthly Coffee 101 class.  

On the Saturday I attended, there were only 3 other students.  Two out of the three students were there with an eye toward opening their own coffee shops.  The third was an engineer, who like me, enjoys coffee, and wanted to know more about this beverage that can often either make or break one's morning.  Since going paleo, black coffee is really one of my last treats.  I defy Amy Kubal to try to take it from me, but I don't think she will try.  

R.C. Beall is the owner of TCT and he graciously gave his entire morning to teach our small group about the entire process of coffee roasting.  We looked over samples of beans at various processing stages.  We talked about fair trade coffee and why it produces a better bean.  He took us on a tour of the warehouse where we smelled green (unroasted) beans in their burlap sacks.  He showed us his roasters and let us smell from the large barrels of freshly roasted beans in each roast:  Light, Vienna, French, and Italian.  We then did a cupping.  

The cupping was really interesting as it is a means of developing your palate to pick out the flavors in coffee, good or bad.  After preparing the coffees to taste, we were given a handout with adjectives to describe the flavors we tasted in 5 coffees. Once we shared our amateur findings, R.C., who is a Q Grader, told us what he tasted, and had us taste the coffees again to see if we could then identify those flavors.  More often than not I could taste them once pointed out.  He presented us all with certificates at the end of class.  

After leaving, inspired by caffeine,  I remembered I had seen a steak recipe somewhere with coffee as a rub or marinade.  I want to say that it was in the Hartwigs' It Starts with Food, but I've loaned my copy of that lovely book to a coworker, so I don't know. I searched the internet and found this intriguing recipe for Coffee Marinated Steak Fajitas from PaleOMG.  

When I think fajitas, I think of flank or skirt steak.  Both of those cuts require marination to be tender.  Without really looking at the recipe, I commented on the recipe page asking if I could use ribeye instead as I had one I needed to cook.  Silly me, her recipe calls for sirloin, not flank or skirt steak.  I consulted my chart of meat and sirloin isn't that much different from ribeye with respect to cooking methods.  Sirloin is a little leaner so can likely stand more marination than ribeye. Juli, at PaleOMG graciously, answered my question with a hearty, "why not?!? do it!!"

Ok, I will! But with sirloin as directed.  I have no clue why I thought I had bought a ribeye steak. Does this happen to anyone else?  I needed more coffee, obviously.

The first step, for me, was to make some coffee.  The recipe recommends a cold brewed brand, but intuition tells me Texas Coffee Traders will do just fine.  R.C. wouldn't outright say he disapproved of my Keurig machine, but when he recommended I basically turn it into a hot water machine, I got the picture. My beans were ground for french press, so that's what I used this morning.

I filled my hot water kettle and set it to boil.  My fancy kettle has settings for different teas and a french press setting, but I set mine to boil.  R.C. said it was best to get your water to a rolling boil, wait just long enough for the boil to stop, and then pour it over your ground coffee.

Evidently, the way you grind your beans is the most important part of the process and it's where I'm lacking currently.   R.C. explained you can make really good coffee/espresso with almost any machine or brewing method if the beans are ground correctly.  I have a nice burr grinder, but alas, no room for it on my counter.  
I used 2 tablespoons/ 5 ounces of coffee as my guideline.  
I steeped my coffee for 4 minutes and then poured out 1.5 cups to add to my steak marinade.  I put my measuring cup in the refrigerator to cool.
While the coffee was steeping, I put the remaining ingredients into a plastic storage bag.  The recipe calls for 1 pound of steak.  My steak was about 1/2 pound.  I still made the full recipe of marinade as it just seemed easier to do.  Once the coffee was cool, I added it to the plastic storage bag and shook it all up well.  I put the bag in a bowl in the refrigerator.

When I got home from work and running errands, about 10 hours later, I took the marinating steak out of the refrigerator.   And collected the ingredients to make the rub for the steak.

I measured out the spices for the  rub onto a plate and used a clean finger to combine them.  I took my steak out of the plastic storage bag, let the excess marinade drip off for a second or two and then coated it with the rub.  

I took this picture just to show how much of the rub I had left after coating one 1/2 pound steak.  The recipe calls for a full pound.  If I make a full recipe, either I'll make more rub or will be a little more stingy with the rub per steak as I don't think what rub was left would be enough for another steak.  
I could have used my cast iron skillet for this, but felt lazy and didn't want to have to bother with re-seasoning it, so I used my Scanpan fry pan.  Once heated, I added coconut oil in the pan and then the steak.  I left the steak completely alone in the pan for 5 minutes.  
 After 5 minutes, I turned the steak.  At this point, there was a lot of smoke and I was worried that the outside would be charred and the inside not done, but I stayed the course.  I set the timer for 5 minutes. Two minutes into that, I cut into the steak to check for doneness and it still looked pretty rare.  I like my steaks rare, but this was pushing it.  I briefly considered putting the steak in the oven, but decided to stick to the recipe and left it on the heat for the full 5 minutes.
You'll want the vent on high!
It looks pretty dark!

As instructed, I let the steak rest for about 5 minutes before slicing it so that the juices would stay in the steak and not on my cutting board.  

Its cooked!

As you can see, after slicing, there wasn't much juice left on the cutting board.  Success!

I plated up my steak with some Bubbies Sauerkraut and grape tomatoes.  

It looks good, but is it good?
Accessibility and Cost of Ingredients:  I only made the steak part of the recipe, not the veggies.  For the steak, depending on the quality of meat you choose, it can either be found at your big box or natural grocery food store.  My big box grocery store does not offer actual grass fed cuts of beef.  Sadness.  I got my steak at Sprouts for $7.99/pound but I know they have them at Whole Foods as well.

Coconut Aminos:  This is a soy sauce substitute and can be found at your natural grocery store next to the soy sauce.  Its not inexpensive for a condiment at 6-7 dollars per bottle.  However, its usefulness makes it worth the cost in my opinion.

The Coffee:  Please don't use grocery store coffee out of a can.  One thing that I learned in Coffee 101 that I found alarming but cant say I was totally shocked by was that most grocery store coffees add coffee chaff as a filler.  Yes, its a byproduct of the roasting process, but it is better used as bedding in chicken coops and/or in your garden compost pile than in your coffee.  You may pay less for grocery store coffee but your also getting less coffee.  Treat yourself and buy some whole bean coffee.  Better yet, treat yourself to a whole bean coffee from a roaster local to you.

The remainder of ingredients, are all available at your big box grocery store and/or you likely have them at home already.

Clean up:  Clean up was not bad for this recipe.  Everything except for the my knife and frying pan could go into the dishwasher.  I chose to just rinse my french press, but it could go into the dishwasher as well.

Prep and Cook Time: The stated prep time in the recipe is 10 minutes and cooking time 15 minutes.   It took me about 5 minutes to make the coffee.   While the coffee steeped I mixed the other marinade ingredients together.  I let the coffee cool for about 30 minutes before adding it to the marinade.  I let the coffee cool as to not cook the steak at all with the hot liquid.  PaleOMG uses a special bottled cold brew coffee, so she didn't have this step.

The recipe recommends marinating overnight which is about the same as my during the work day marination period of 10 hours.  So, you'll need to plan ahead if you want to make this recipe.  She says its ok to marinate for just a few hours, but again, you're going to need to plan ahead.  The actually cooking took 10 minutes, but you may need to adjust this time based on how thick and/or how many steaks you are cooking.  Then add the 5 minutes to rest the steak.  So, for me, active prep/cooking time was 50 minutes (in two sessions) with 10 hours inactive time in between.

The Paleo Review:  Thumbs Up!  PaleOMG is right!  This steak was so delicious!  I was worried that the coffee rub would over power the steak, but it absolutely did not.  The coffee and spices add a certain sweetness to the full flavored beef.  The steak was incredibly juicy.  I keep my eye out for recipes that would be good to cook for special company and this is going into that category.    It was very easy to put together and easy to cook.  I wonder how it would do on the grill?  Next time, I will make the vegetables as well.  Thanks for the great recipe, Juli!