“Fire It Up” and A Food Gal Giveaway

How about some coffee with that meat?

The next morning you brew a cup of strong coffee, you might want to save a few cups for dinner.

Not to drink, but to grill with in this wonderful Espresso-Powered Barbecued Brisket, which features coffee three ways — in a rub, marinade and finishing sauce.

How’s that to perk up a meal?

The recipe is from the new cookbook, “Fire It Up” (Chronicle Books” by food writers, Andrew Schloss and David Joachim. It features more than 400 recipes for the grill, including Pork Tenderloin with Candied Clementine and Rosemary; Sesame-Crusted Chicken Paillards with Seaweed Salad; Wasabi-Drizzled Mussels Grilled with Green Tea Fumes; and Smoked Deviled Eggs.

I love the flavor of coffee in baked goods, so I was eager to try it on meat.

The roasted notes of coffee do indeed play well with the smoky taste of grilled beef, amplifying its meaty nature.

Make a rub by mixing finely ground dark-roast coffee with smoked paprika, dark brown sugar, ground ancho chile and lemon zest to rub all over the brisket.  Allow to marinate at least eight hours.

When ready to cook, take a little of the leftover rub and add brewed coffee, molasses, lemon juice and balsamic vinegar to make a mop to baste the meat with. After the meat is done, serve with a sauce made from more brewed coffee, ketchup, dark brown mustard, honey, citrus juice, and a dash of hot pepper sauce.

The result is bold beefiness with a beguiling tangy, earthy, subtle spicy kick.

It’s a dish sure to wake up any weekend grilling rut.

Contest: I’m thrilled to be able to give three Food Gal readers each a copy of the cookbook, “Fire It Up” by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim. Contest is open only to those in the continental United States. Entries will be accepted through midnight PST Aug. 13. Winner will be announced Aug. 15.

How to win?

Just tell me your most memorable experience that involved fire.

Here’s my own answer to that question:

“Years ago, one of my best gal-pals, Elaine, and I spent a girls’ weekend away in Mendocino. Unfortunately, it was one of those blustery, stormy weekends on the coast. We were staying at an adorable B&B that had a fireplace. After getting soaked while wandering from boutique to boutique that afternoon, we decided to fire up the fireplace. Only problem? When it comes to lighting those short paper matches inside matchbooks, we are both positively, absolutely lame. Elaine couldn’t even bring herself to try, as she burned herself with a match as a child and is deathly afraid of them. So, it was left to yours truly. I remember striking match after match over and over to no avail, until they were so bent and their tips so worn that they were useless. I stared at the two remaining matches left in the book, knowing it was now or never. I struck one against the cover. And — eureka! — it lit, only to snuff out as I touched it to the wadded up newspaper surrounding the logs in the fireplace. My heart sank. I took a deep breath, before trying my very last match. This time, it lit and ignited the newspapers and logs successfully.  The fire roared to life and we breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Course, with no more matches, we were so afraid the fire would go out that we dared not leave the room after that.”

Winner of the Previous Contest: In last week’s Food Gal contest, I asked you tell me about one of your favorite California wineries. The winner will receive two tickets to the Aug. 21 Family Winemakers of California tasting event at Fort Mason Center’s Festival Pavilion.

Congrats to JenniferS., who wrote: “Your question reminds me of a terrific wine discussion we had lately that was based on the question, ‘If you could only drink one varietal of wine for the rest of your life, what would it be?’ Answers to the ‘varietal’ question ranged from the obvious (Cab, Chard) to the trying-too-hard (Primitivo, Nero di Troia, etc.). Surprisingly, the most creative reply was Pinot Noir. Not because Pinot is the wine of the time, nor because the respondent was a die-hard “Sideways” fan, but because (and I quote) “I’d choose Pinot Noir, because then I could have my red, my rosé and my sparkling.” Built-in diversity. Brilliant.

That’s why, in the spirit of calling out a place that offers diversity every time I visit, I’d have to answer Preston Vineyards in Dry Creek. It’s essentially a farm (like most wineries) but there’s something truly happy, quirky and ever-changing about this place. The first thing you notice when you arrive is that it is obviously someone’s home, and that you’re entering an area where kids likely grew up with tire swings, feeding chickens and playing hide-and-seek among corn stalks. Actually, you can probably still do that today.

Preston produces a number of reds and whites – I’ve tried their Zin, Petite Sirah, Syrah and Sauvignon Blanc. They also have a rosé called “Portugese Pink” that I love just for the name. But my favorite is the “Guadagni Red” – essentially a 3-liter wine jug (or “growler”) – that you can fill straight from the tap on certain days. Because Preston is also a farm, they sell small-batch produce from a makeshift honor-system farmstand on the front porch of the tasting room complete with vegetables, fruits and nuts, fresh eggs, sauerkraut, salami and cheeses. Inside they have homemade bread, estate olive oil, and house-cured olives. Good stuff.

This was the first winery my boyfriend, Mike, ever took me to. We visited on a hot day and had to drive very slowly down the dirt road to avoid kicking too much dust up onto the grapes. We grabbed a couple bottles of wine, a loaf of their amazing fresh bread, a bottle of oil and meats, cheeses and fruits – then found an old table and chairs around the back of the house and proceeded to gorge ourselves. I remember that the flowers were blazing and the bees practically buzzed tunes for us. We could smell bread baking and a cat came over and asked to be scratched (and fed some of our salami). We watched other picnickers through the rose bushes, played a little bocce ball, poked around the old forno, chatted with one of the family members (I can’t remember her name), ate some more, drank some more, and then packed up when the sun started to fade. It was a perfect winery picnic.

Preston has gardens, pigs, chickens, wheat fields, elderberries – apparently there’s even a hot spring and an old fishery. I’ve visited 3-4 times since Mike took me there, and every time we find something new. Their wine is good – even better when consumed on site. It’s not fancy. It’s certainly not exclusive. It is simple, comfortable, inviting and fun. And it’s my favorite.”

Espresso-Powered Barbecued Brisket

(Serves 6)

Juice of 2 lemons

2 cups strong brewed coffee, preferably espresso roast

1/4 cup molasses

2 tablespoons aged balsamic vinegar

2 teaspoons coarse salt

3/4 cup Espresso Rub (see accompanying recipe below)

1 flat for center-cut beef brisket (3 to 4 pounds), trimmed, with 1/4 inch of fat on one side

1 cup Espresso Grilling Sauce (see accompanying recipe below)

Mix lemon juice, coffee, molasses, balsamic vinegar, salt and 1 tablespoon of the rub in a small bowl. Set aside.

Rub remaining spice rub all over the brisket. Cover tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Rest meat at room temperature before grilling, about 1 hour. Light a grill for indirect medium-low heat, about 250 degrees. Brush grill grate and coat with oil.

Put brisket, fatty-side up, on the grill away from the heat, and cover the grill. Cook until severely browned and blackened in spots or very well-done (about 170 degrees on an instant read thermometer), 4 to 6 hours total. Mop or drizzle the brisket with espresso mop on both sides whenever the surface looks dry, every 45 minutes during the entire cooking time. After 2 hours of cooking, put brisket in an aluminum foil pan and return pan of brisket to the grill away from the heat. Cover grill and continue cooking. The pan helps to retain moisture in the brisket. Once the brisket is in the pan, you only need to mop the top, fatty side. If your grill has a temperature gauge, it should stay around 250 degrees during the entire cooking time. If using charcoal, add fresh coals about once an hour during cooking.

Remove the pan of brisket from the heat and let it rest for 20 minutes.

While meat is resting, make the grilling sauce. Trim any excess fat from the brisket and slice across the grain (don’t trim too much fat, though; the crispy bits taste great). Serve with the grilling sauce.

From “Fire It Up” by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim

Espresso Rub

(Makes 3/4 cup)

2 tablespoons finely ground dark-roast coffee

2 tablespoons smoked paprika

2 tablespoons dark brown sugar

2 tablespoons coarse salt

2 tablespoons ground black pepper

1 tablespoon ground ancho chile

1 tablespoon finely grated lemon zest

Mix everything together. Store in a tightly closed container in a refrigerator for up to 1 week.

From “Fire It Up” by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim

Espresso Grilling Sauce

Great on beef, lamb, duck and game meats.

(Makes about 2 1/3 cups)

1 cup brewed dark-roast coffee

1 cup ketchup

1/4 cup dark brown mustard

1/3 cup honey

2 tablespoons citrus juice (lemon, orange or lime)

2 tablespoons hot pepper sauce

2 teaspoons ground black pepper

2 teaspoons coarse salt

Mix everything together in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, lower heat, and simmer until slightly thickened, about 5 minutes. Store in a tightly closed container for up to 1 month in the refrigerator.

Adapted from “Fire It Up” by Andrew Schloss and David Joachim

More Coffee Love: Coffee Chip Cookies

And: Espresso Chocolate Chunk Oatmeal Cookies

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  • That brisket is cooked to perfection! I really have to try that rub. Fantastic, I’m sure.



  • I would definitely set aside some coffee to make this! I bet the coffee’s flavor notes add so much flavor, especially after being grilled!

  • I’m so jealous you get to grill! Our apartment complex won’t even allow an electric grill on our balcony. Bummer huh? 🙁

  • Dangerous question! I love fire 🙂 I think it started the first time ages ago when my dad (at least in my humble opinion) came up with the chimney fire starter.
    When I was a daycamp counselor, I always relished the job of cooking over the fire. The best part of course was getting that fire started…at that time, it was getting those sticks in a pyramid just right, striking the match to start the newspaper, and blowing on it just right to get it going.
    Nothing like potatoes wrapped in foil, weenies on a stick, and the final lovely ending with s’mores. I was always fighting to make sure that I was the fire monitor…nothing like watching those flames dance, and the right balance of trying to keep it at a steady heat.
    Unfortunately in Santa Clara, there are no bbq’s allowed, so I am in SERIOUS withdrawal, but I must confess, I have a Korean grill that I am going to try to sneak out on my balcony. There is nothing like the smell of meat grilling…and especially experimenting with coffee…which I had just started to do with BBQ before I moved…to have an actual recipe would be such a treat!

  • I really like espresso in bbq sauce, and adding ground espresso to a rub is a great idea too. I have to try that next!

  • OFF-TOPIC: Well, kinda — this relates to your identifying winner of your previous contest about Cali wineries (Jennifer S) and “publishing” her entry: Blown away by her (wanna say “breezy” but that connotes lack of depth which wasn’t the case) writing style. Her ability to cite grapes (including a grapey movie) was like someone giving me credit for a few grey cells where synapses are leap frog playthings) just had me smiling and nodding my head up ‘n down in silent “Aha, I can so dig that!” tributes—in serial form. Like many of your posts, CJ, I was sorry to see the end of her story. Really.

  • Did Meat Boy cook that beautiful brisket?

  • Wow. Wasabi-Drizzled Mussels Grilled with Green Tea Fumes? That sounds crazy good. I can’t enter, however, as the cookbook would be wasted since I don’t have a grill.

    I don’t have much experiences with fire, but my favorite memories is of my dad trying to stoke up a BBQ pit while my mom brings out the Korean marinated meats, and my little brother fanning my dad cool while I wrap the sweet potatoes in foil…those BBQ sweet potato was my favorite!

  • Nate @ House of Annie: Good guess! Yes, Meat Boy did indeed cook that hunk of brisket.

  • Fire memories, eh? Oh my!

    Well, without a doubt by far the “most memorable” for me would have to be the morning, probably 35 years ago now because my beloved first-born son was two at the time, (and “How the heck did *those* years pass by so quickly?” I ask myself.) ((Sigh)) when I turned the oven on to pre-heat for a baking project, and left the room to change his diaper. Mere moments later, the smoke alarm alerted me to a bit of a problem; the entire house was rapidly filling with acrid smoke! Thinking (not necessarily) ever-so clearly, I stashed the boy in his crib, opened his window for ventilation, closed his door, and ran toward the kitchen (I know!) continuing to break every rule in the book (No, I was not crawling on the floor below smoke level!) Crouching, however, I turned off the oven control and reached up to grab the door to open it and take a peek. Aieeee! Slammed door immediately since oven was unaccountably filled with flames. Indulged in brief moment of panic, followed by immediate realization that panic would NOT be productive under the circumstances! Realized flames were still fully-contained. Grabbed nearby fire extinguisher (the only provision and act for which I deserve the slightest amount of praise in this story!) read all the directions, pointed it away from me (another very good move, come to think of it) verrrrry carefully opened oven door, and (what do you know?!) successfully and swiftly doused the flames! (Good for me, oh yes indeed!!!)

    Then I went to check on the kid, had a small emotional melt-down while hugging him tightly to me, and then (and ONLY then!) decided maybe I should dial 911.

    (Gee, y’think?)

    We were standing at the front window, adrenalin gradually receding, and breathing nice fresh air while I was still in the middle of explaining to the nice 911 lady that yes we were absolutely fine, “…but I just wanted to know if…” when the sirens started screaming down our street. Neighbors poured out of adjacent houses. Studly firemen (causing unexpected onset of additional adrenalin, if memory serves) poured out of incoming firetrucks, and the first savior to rush inside the house, like every emergency movie you’ve ever seen on TV, shouted “Where’s the fire?!” Second fireman, a little more leisurely than the first, strolled in behind him and inquired “Everything OK in here now?” But the third fireman! Oh, the third fireman made best use of our taxpayer dollars EVER!! I never even noticed the third fireman until the hullabaloo was pretty much over and I saw him wandering back to the front of the house from down the hall by the bedrooms. He had some small sort of device in his hand and was using it to expel a clearly important chemical into the air every couple of steps. “What’s that?” asked my wide-eyed little boy from the safety of my still-tight-around-him arms. “This, young man,” our stalwart hero proclaimed, “is air freshener!”

    Now what, you may be wondering, was the cause of all this commotion? Magnetic letters! Remember those ubiquitous plastic letters kids used to play with on the front of the refrigerator? It seems my son had taken a notion the day before to “put them away”…inside the oven.

    (Oh my!)

    Tangentially, the curious among you might wish to know, what I happened to be wearing at that early and usually entirely private hour for all the studly firemen and concerned neighbors and who knows who else to see?

    Well *that*, dear internet, is between me and my memory — which is increasingly faulty these days, but which seems to be telling me that whatever it was I threw it in the trash immediately thereafter because, dear goodness, there are just some things you would *not* want to be caught wearing in an emergency, and if it’s not decent enough for firemen and neighbors at 8AM well then it has no business remaining in your closet to matter *how* comfy it might have been. Besides, it kinda had that fire extinguisher stuff all over it. Not to mention my hair.

    Next batch of cookies after the oven got back to normal, was delivered directly to the fire station, oh yes it did!

    And three cheers, I say, for those brave men and women who choose to devote their daily lives to something which for most of us is a once-in-a-lifetime experience.

    Next time you see a fire person, be sure to tell ’em thanks for all of us!

  • OK this is going straight to hubby! 😀 We will use any excuse to BBQ and I love the idea of a coffee rub too!

  • My most memorable experience with fire is, ironically, one where I actually was not physically present. A few years ago, my husband took our young children on a cross-country camping trip. Bless his heart. He wisely chose not to tell me, until they all arrived safely home, 6 weeks later, that our youngest nearly fell face first into a brightly burning campfire. Thankfully, our oldest caught his younger brother and averted disaster. Now, whenever I see a campfire, my mind can’t help but wander to what might have been and I shudder, just a little bit, everytime.

    But, we still love campfires and BBQ’ing, so winning “Fire It Up” would be oh-so-cool … and on my birthday too!

  • When thinking about this question I know exactly the answer! My family and I were up camping in the Sierra Nevada’s at Shaver Lake. Although we always went in mid August we also somehow always managed to get some rain at least one of the days. We had spent the day hiking as the weather was looking fabulous when we first headed out. The second we got to the top of the mountain about 3 hours into the hike and about halfway it simply started to downpour!! Not only did it downpour but it also got really dark and gloomy really quickly…mind you we were at the top and had 3 hours left! We spent the next three hours hiking down or rather I say slipping and sliding down the mountain. It went from rainy to slushy to dry to sunny all changing in the matter of minutes and for the entire three hours.

    After three hours of laughing, crying, making jokes on each other and simply wondering when ever this would be over we made it back. Never in my life had I ever loved a campfire so much. We were socked, muddy and freezing and my dad put on a campfire that immediately started blazing! We wrapped up in some beach towels and let the fire dry us until we finally weren’t shivering. I thought about that fire the entire way down the mountain and man did it live up to its expectations. It was the most comforting, warm lovely fire I had ever been around.

    I had never been asked this question before when now that I have that is the incident for sure! The day that felt like the longest of all time was ended so nicely with the best creation on earth. A blazing fire to warm the soul

  • i had my first kiss while sitting around a campfire, does that count? 🙂

  • The important question is whether Mr Foodgal approve of this? 🙂

    The meat looks really delicious though!

  • Contest is now closed. Come back on Monday to see who won and for the start of a fun, new contest.

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