If we’re cooking a single-serving steak or smaller cut of meat just for yourself, we’d typically stick to salt and pepper. But, when doing a large project like a full loin, or an entire roast, you’ll never find us far away from a nice dry rub. The possibilities are truly endless. Or rather -- should be! But all too often, dry rub recipes seem to be some re-arranged version of the next dry rub recipe. Onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, paprika, sugar, or some combination thereof. While definitely delicious, one of our favorite aspects of grilling is the creativity involved. There is no limit to the ingredients you can include in a dry rub. So today, we’re going to make a rub centered around an oft-neglected ingredient when it comes to grilling: coffee.
Note: unfortunately, we can’t guarantee this will result in a caffeinated steak. We don’t think it works that way.
This coffee rub is an all-purpose rub. We fancy it with just about any protein -- fish excluded. It sings best on lamb and beef, but feel free to experiment! We’ve kept it low in sugar, so there’s going to be plenty of room for your favorite barbeque sauce.
Before we get to the ingredient list, though, we’ve got to explain some finer points. First, the coffee is not a bitter, aggressive flavor when used in this context. Instead, it is going to provide a nice, dark earthiness to whatever you’re cooking. That is, so long as you get one piece right...
That piece is the grind of the coffee. Grind the coffee too fine, and the coarser spices won’t have a chance to grip onto the meat. The result? A mouthful of coffee grinds. Grind the coffee too coarse, and you’ll have a similar problem. Not enough flavor because of the lack of surface area, and the potential for a mouthful of large-grind coffee. So, be sure to grind to a happy medium, where the coffee can play nice with all the other spices.
Now, onto the good part!
All Purpose Coffee Rub
2 tablespoons garlic powder
3 tablespoons ground coffee (medium grind)
2 tablespoon brown sugar or demerara sugar
1.5 tablespoons paprika
2 tablespoon onion powder
1 tablespoon ground cumin
1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon cayenne
The procedure is exactly what you’ll probably be expecting -- mix it all up! Depending on how brave you are, we may suggest dialing up the cayenne pepper -- that spice goes perfectly with the earthy notes you’ll get from the coffee grounds.
As with any good rub, there’s a couple of ways to use it: apply a thin coating before grilling. Alternatively, it can be used as a condiment to season the product once you’ve taken it off the grill. Of course, we would opt for the former -- in a way, the heat can ‘activate’ the coffee grounds, giving the rub a particularly robust flavor. All in all, this is a great, versatile rub, so we’d suggest scaling up the recipe quite a bit. Having something like this on hand is always a good call!