Sunday, September 4, 2011

Coffee-Rubbed Beef with Brussels Sprouts

Kristin and I watch Chopped on the Food Network a lot.  It's a show that I didn't used to like all that much, but it's really grown on me since I've started cooking more seriously.  I can say with confidence that I would catastrophically lose in the first round of almost every competition, but it's fun to watch what the competitors do, and to try to figure out what I would do with the often-strange sets of ingredients.

Chopped contestants often need to figure out to do with large chunks of meat in a very short time.  This prevents clever things like slow roasting, braising, et-cetera.  Oftentimes, they rub them all over with delicious coffee-based rubs, sear them off, then finish in the oven.  I've been wanting to give this strategy a try for a while, and finally did.  It turned out quite pleasant.  I'm not sure the meal would have won Chopped for me, but it was tasty nonetheless.

It's all in the power of a few good ingredients for this recipe.  The obvious requirement is a large hunk of meat.  I used a roast of about 3 pounds, so adjust timings up and down according to difference in size.  A coffee rub is nothing without coffee, so use some that's good.  Kristin nobly sacrificed the last of her batch of good whole-bean coffee to this meal (we restocked her 2 hours later, but that's beside the point).  You'll need a bit of oil for the meat, and then a whole slew of spices.

I'm using a pair of spice blends from The Spice House in Chicago: "Milwaukee Iron," a complex, hot blend, and "Back of the Yards," a garlic-pepper blend.  You can go a lot of ways with this, but what I used breaks down to these: cumin, coriander, chile powder, dried mustard, brown sugar, oregano, paprika, and lots of garlic.  Add or subtract as your heart desires.

I'd have felt guilty serving nothing but an immense hunk of beef for dinner, so I also roasted some Brussels Sprouts.  They're not a vegetable I clamor for all the time, but can be a nice change of pace.  Another simple preparation here: all you'll need is sprouts, olive oil, salt, and pepper.

Prep the sprouts first, before the beef.  That way everything should finish around the same time. Give the sprouts a good wash, then remove any dead or yellowed leaves and chop off the stem bits at the bottom.

Toss those sprouts onto a greased (or, as I prefer, parchment-lined) baking pan, and cover with liberal quantities of oil, salt, and pepper.  Throw them into the oven, and forget all about them for the next 40 minutes.  Now you're free to handle the beef with plenty of time and no risk of cross-contamination.

First, put together your spice rub.  Grind the coffee down finely, and combine with all of your spices in a large bowl.  Taste a bit on the tip of your finger and adjust as you see fit.  I found that I needed more salt than expected to combat the bitterness of the coffee.

Drizzle just enough oil over the steak to allow spices to cling, then really coat it with that spice mixture.

Now onto a pan!  Cast iron is the way to go here, as we'll transfer into a hot oven shortly.

My 3-pound cut of beef took 4-5 minutes per side to develop a nicely seared crust.  As always, adjust according to your own cut of beef and the predilections of your stove.  Once it's seared, throw it into the oven with the sprouts, which should be coming along nicely by now.

Roast in the oven for about 20 minutes, turning halfway, until the center tests done for your temperature of choice.  I pulled my beef out when it read 145 and it was just right.  Your sprouts won't be quite done yet.  That's a good thing, as you are morally obligated to let the beef rest.  Only a terrible person cuts into good meat right when it's left the oven.  You're not a terrible person, are you?

Don't answer that.  Instead, throw the beef on a plate and cover with foil to rest 5-10 minutes.  Conveniently enough, your sprouts should be done and plated right around then.

Roasted brussels sprouts can look awful, but you want them to be about this charred when they're done.  Squishy, gooshy sprouts are a bad thing.  When they're nice and brown and crispy, they're done.  It should take about 40 minutes in all.

Slice the beef fairly thin and serve it up beside plenty of nice salty sprouts.  Enjoy!

Recipe: Coffee-Rubbed Beef with Brussels Sprouts
Prep Time: 5-10 Minutes | Cook Time: 40 Minutes | Difficulty: Easy | Servings: 8-10


  • 3 lb. Beef Roast
  • 1/4 cup finely ground Coffee
  • 2 tsp Olive Oil
  • 1 tbsp Salt
  • 1 tbsp Black Pepper
  • 1 tbsp Paprika
  • 1 tbsp Chili Powder
  • 1 tbsp Garlic Powder
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1 tsp Coriander
  • 1 tsp Dried Mustard
  • 1 tsp Oregano
  • 1 tsp Brown Sugar
Brussels Sprouts
  • 1-2 lbs Brussels Sprouts
  • 1/4 cup Olive Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste


Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.  Cover a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Rinse, clean, and remove stems from Brussels Sprouts.  Place on covered baking sheet.

Drizzle sprouts with olive oil, and salt and pepper to taste.  Place in pre-heated oven and bake 40 minutes until crispy.

Heat a cast-iron pan on the stove to medium-high heat.

Grind coffee finely.  Mix with other spices to taste.

Drizzle oil over beef, then coat well with spice mixture.

Sear beef 4-5 minutes per side on the cast-iron pan.  Finish in the oven 10 minutes per side, or until desired level of doneness.  Rest 5-10 minutes before slicing.

Serve beef and sprouts while hot.