You just don’t think about pairing coffee with food or using it as an ingredient, but luminary food writer and author, James Chatto does and he is seeing the trend everywhere! Beyond your perfect personal cup, you may want to think about some ways to join the trend and get cracking (coffee beans) into your savoury meals.
For breakfast, think about pairing a lighter roast coffee with berries and yogurt and a bolder roasts with heartier meals like herbed eggs, mushrooms on toast or smoked fish. Having various beans from different parts of the world and in different roasts will accommodate any brunch at home. To apply this technique while dining out may take a bit of a trick but it can be done. Most restaurants only carry one blend and they aim firmly for the middle to please every palate. Enjoy the house blend with your lighter dishes and switch to espresso for your main or meaty course. “It’s all about enhancing your pleasure of the plate.” says Chatto, who recently paired a dark roast “Napoletano blend” with breakfast canapés of blue cheese and bacon at Frank at the AGO in Toronto. Yum!
One hot trend cropping up is the use of coffee beans in marinades. “You have to think of coffee as a spice,” says Chatto. Add it crushed to recipes that require oomph and depth. For instance, in a French Onion soup stock it adds color and dimension. Or, try this simple marinade for your next T-bone steak: add a double shot of espresso mixed with crushed garlic to a freezer bag with your meat. Marinate for an hour or two and grill. When the coffee caramelizes on the meat into a potent sweetness, it will make you look like a star. Think about adding brewed coffee to braising liquid in place of red wine in any recipe and your guests will wonder how you got so savvy.
Believe it or not, a more subtle coffee way to infuse coffee flavour into food is to use the beans themselves as a crust, a la breadcrumbs. Here’s a coffee crusted scallop recipe that is simple and creative: Crush beans and rice crispies together with a rolling pin, add in some espresso grind and use a evenly heated, well oiled pan. Dip extra large scallops into the mixture-one side only and pan sear on both sides for two minutes. A dry rub of beans would work well on chicken and fish as well.
Barbecue season and iced coffee are perfectly paired. Use a bolder blend to create a frosty glass of black joe and serve with barbecued ribs. The fatty sweetness of the ribs is enhanced by the bold bitterness of the coffee. Of course, you may want to use decaf if the night gets too late, you don’t want your guests hanging around too long.
And speaking of too long, what is the final word on how to store those beans anyway? Coffee beans are diminished by three things: oxygen, heat and moisture. The more temperature stable and airtight you can keep your beans, the better. The package that they come in should provide a thick and protective layer. Ideally, you would buy your coffee in small enough amounts that it wouldn’t matter where they are stored because they would be used within a week while they are at their peak.
Storing your beans in the freezer and opening and closing the bag for a month isn’t the best way. If you think you won’t use your beans up this week, divide them. Store half in the bag, rolled tightly, in the freezer for the month and the rest in the fridge (in a freezer bag with the air squeezed out each time). For beans that will be used the next few hours, grind them and stash it in the cupboard.