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“Fire It Up” and A Food Gal Giveaway

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