Passion House Coffee Inspires Chicago Charcutier

  A couple of weeks ago, we featured an interview with Chicago's Passion House Coffee Roasters. This morning, we were delighted to find another Passion House fan who is doing some very interesting things with his favorite coffee. Mark Smrecek, who is better known for his acumen with bacon and cured meats, writes the blog From Belly to Bacon. An ex-Chicagoan who now lives in the northern 'burbs, he details his experiments with curing meats. And he's pretty good at it -- one of his experiments, the BLT Dog, was a top-five finalist in Nueske's Amateur Cook-Off at Chicago's 2010 Baconfest. So what does all this have to do with coffee -- and Passion House Coffee Roasters to be specific? Tuesday's blog post featured leg of lamb cured with -- wait for it -- Passion House coffee. More specifically, Mark used a mix of Passion House Nueva Linda and Passion House El Salvador Nubes #11.   So, how did it turn out? To quote Mark:  
"There was an almost milk chocolate aroma to the lamb leg which makes sense as the primary source of the beans had tasting notes of cocoa. Upon first slice, the flavor was not overly salty. This tasted like a complex, somewhat gamey piece of lamb charcuterie. Once you knew it was coffee cured, the flavors would solidify as having that slight bitter note, but it is not prominently bitter. The coffee flavor reminds me more of cafe au lait than espresso."
  Now, we're big fans of cooking with coffee, and have grown used to seeing coffee used in dry rubs, wet rubs and marinades. We know that coffee adds delicious depth and nuance to chili, beef stew and  pork ribs. We've even done coffee-glazed bacon (bacon candy? Oh, yes!) -- but coffee as an ingredient in cured meats? That's a new one for us, but apparently not for the the world of charcuterie. Here are just a few of the yummy-sounding recipes we found for curing meats with coffee.     Most of these recipes take little more than 1/4 cup of ground coffee, so you'll still have plenty left for enjoying in the more traditional way -- straight up in the cup or mug of your choosing. But we're all for getting adventurous with your coffee experimentation -- drop us a comment if you've got a coffee-cure or rub that deserves special mention!   Photo credit: Arnold Gatilao  

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