Are you buying organic, fair trade, shade grown coffee? These toxin free, habitat preserving and safe working condition brews are all to rage for good reason. Sure you’ll pay more for these beans but isn’t it time we all pay a little more attention to how our basic purchases affect the world?
Getting off my little soap box now – what else can you do with coffee beyond just drinking it? Coffee is an easy addition to desserts but what about using it to prepare dinner? If you think of the bean as a spice, it will open up a myriad of ideas.
My goal was to use coffee in a nontraditional, yet traditional sense. Enter the traditional fajita, soak it in orange juice and coffee, then crust it in ground coffee and peppercorns and top with a spicy sweet salsa. Ya, it’s pretty good.
Let’s talk about the big question – will the caffeine keep you up? I think it’s minimal, if any affect. Dave and I both slept as normal and he doesn’t even drink coffee. The more a coffee bean is roasted, the less caffeine it will have (i.e. darker roasts have less caffeine than lighter roasts) so I’ll go out on a limb and say that cooking it more may dilute the caffeine content further. Please note the FDA has not approved that statement.
Pick up a bag of coffee (preferably one that protects the environment and the workers) and put a little fat and happy zing in your fajita night.
Coffee Marinated and Crusted Fajitas with Jalapeno Honeydew Salsa
Orange Coffee Marinade
- 1 orange, zested and juiced
- 1 lime, zested
- 1/2 tbls black peppercorns
- 2 Tbls turbinado or brown sugar
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1/4 cup strong brewed coffee
- 1 garlic clove, finely grated
- 1/2 tsp ground allspice
- 1 lb skirt steak
Place all the ingredients in a large plastic bag or shallow seal-able tupperware dish. Add the meat, shake well to distribute, set aside until ready to grill. Marinate the meat at least 30 minutes, up to 1 day. Be sure to bring the meat to room temperature before grilling.
Jalapeno Honeydew Salsa
- 1/2 c yellow pepper, diced small
- 1 cup honeydew, diced small
- 1/4 cup red onion, diced small
- 1/2 cup jicama, diced small
- 1 small jalapeno, finely diced
- 1 cup chopped fresh parsley
- 1 tbls red wine
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- juice of 1 lime
- salt (to your liking but roughly 1/2 tsp)
While the meat is marinating, chop up the veggies. Combine them all into a dish with the red wine, olive oil, lime juice and salt, toss to combine. Set aside.
Coffee Crusted Fajitas
- 1 small yellow onion
- 1 small red onion
- 2 tbls olive oil
- Fresh black pepper, pinch of salt
- small corn tortillas (or flour if you prefer)
- 1/4 scant cup coffee beans
- 1 scant tbls peppercorns
Slice the onions and place on a fajita pan or in a large piece of tin foil. Drizzle with the olive oil, pepper and salt, toss and grill by either placing the fajita pan directly on the grill or tightly wrapping the tin foil together and placing that on the grill. Remove when the onions are nicely caramelized.
In a coffee grinder or using a mortar and pestle, grind the coffee beans and peppercorns together, grind this relatively fine. Pour onto a large, shallow plate. Remove the steak from the marinade and drag through the coffee grounds on both sides.
Wrap the tortillas in tin foil and place on the top grill basket to gently warm.
Grill the room temperature steak over medium high heat for about 2-4 minutes per side (depending on the thickness of your steak), it’s better to under cook than over cook. The high heat will sear in the juices with the coffee crust. Remove from heat and let rest for at least 10 minutes. The skirt steak will be the most tender if you slice the steak across the grain at a very sharp angle, in thin strips.
Layer each tortilla with thin slices of the grilled skirt steak, caramelized onions and a scoop of the jalapeno honeydew salsa. Serve with a wedge of orange and enjoy.
Tips and Techniques: Nervous about the full coffee crust? Start with the marinade and only cover half of the steak with the ground coffee mixture. Let your taste buds duke it out. The image on the left is the skirt steak with just the marinade (the orange and coffee make a lovely combination) and the image on the right has the crust (bold, almost crunchy and packing a spicy coffee punch). I quite enjoyed the coffee crust as did Dave but it was fun to try it both ways.