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By Casey Ann Francis (The Fishtown Spirit Newspaper - Philadelphia)
Like a good percentage of most average Americans, coffee plays a very important role in my daily life. It’s practically ritualistic and routine, but never taken for granted. While there is an aspect of my morning tradition that does prevent caffeine withdrawal, I mostly drink a huge cup first thing because I enjoy the flavor.
Other than water, it is the one thing I consume constantly so I invest in the good stuff. My coffee of choice is the Reading blend from Old City Coffee in the Reading Terminal Market. It is the perfect combination of a French blend and their namesake Old City Blend, producing a deep, smooth, toasty mix. I prefer it black, as to not dilute the delicious notes with cream or sugar.
While there are practically a million ways to take your morning beverage, most wouldn’t realize the grounds could serve as the perfect ingredient in a rub for most meats. This savory recipe appealed to my appreciation for coffee and opened my eyes to other ways I can get it in my system.
Coffee Crusted Chicken
Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
In a small bowl, stir together coffee, butter, sugar, garlic powder, pepper and salt.
Arrange chicken, breast side up, in a shallow roasting pan and spread rub all over to coat completely. Pull skin from meat and rub mixture between the two.
Roast chicken, basting every 20 minutes or so with pan juices, until skin is deep golden brown and crisp and meat is cooked through, about 2 hours.
Set aside to rest 10 minutes then transfer to a cutting board, carve and serve hot.
We’re big fans of whole chickens, whether it’s a recipe we make on our own or a pre-cooked rotisserie from the grocery store. If on the smaller side, two of us can eat one for dinner with a veggie side but, if it’s larger as in this recipe, we can continue with leftovers for lunch. There’s also something about a chicken in its entirety that correlates to home-style meals, and with dark and white meat there is something for everyone. The same can be said for the coffee rub; while the brown sugar adds sweetness and aids the mixture in crusting as it cooks, the garlic powder and black pepper add the savory properties and invite the coffee to do the same. The grounds become a deep, rich highlight and while one would think they would be gritty, they practically dissolve with the rest of the spices in your mouth. The hint of cinnamon rounds out the rub and connects the dish as a seasonably appropriate recipe. While the coffee is the most interesting aspect, the butter works magic keeping the meat moist.
Not only was this a great opportunity to experiment with one of my favorite flavors, it made me happy to see non-coffee drinkers appreciate and enjoy the dish. I was so excited that I could barely sleep after eating it. Or perhaps I had just exceeded my coffee limit for the day.