Friday, July 24, 2009

Cleo Coyle's Coffee Marinated Steak

Here’s a simple tip for making an economical cut of meat delicious—and a nice use for your leftover joe, too, because why not make use of every last drop?

Why I love this recipe: Grilling is a cooking process that too often overly dries thinner or less expensive cuts of meat. My coffee marinade imparts a wonderful, earthy character to the meat while also plumping it up, keeping it moist throughout the grilling process. Sure a super-fat T-bone steak would retain its moistness, but who can afford cuts like that for the whole family? As an experiment, I grilled my top round coffee-marinated steak alongside a rib eye steak treated only with dry rub. The top round was half the price, but tasted twice as good, thanks to its little bath in bean juice!

"Can't you just hear the sizzle?"....

Ingredients:Steaks for grilling or broiling
(I use top round)Cold coffee
Salt & Pepper
Worcestershire sauce (optional)Scallions or shallots (optional)Steak dry rub (optional)

Step 1: Purchase meatGo for an economical cut. (I use top round steak.) Pound the steak out with the spike side of a meat hammer. If you don’t have a meat hammer, then put your steak in a plastic bag and pound it with a regular hammer or the back of a ladle – and then prick it all over with a fork. This starts the tenderizing process. (It also gets all kinds of frustrations out. Who needs therapy when you can pound meat?)

Step 2: Cover with coffee
Place your steaks in a glass or plastic container and pour enough cold coffee over them to cover. You can use any kind of coffee. Just save the last dregs of your coffee pot for a few days (store in fridge) and you should have enough for the marinade.

Step 3: Add a little seasoning Add a tablespoon of salt (I like sea salt), a dash of pepper, and (optional) a couple of diced scallions or shallots along with a dash of Worcestershire sauce. Cover the container with plastic wrap and chill in the fridge for 1 to 3 hours. No longer.

Step 4: Remove and grillPull the steaks out of the container and discard the liquid. Do not rinse. Just apply a favorite dry rub. There are many dry steak rubs available in your grocery aisle. (My favorite is Szeged brand Steak Rub in the cute little black metal can. Pictured right.) Cook your coffee-marinated steaks on a charcoal or gas grill, or broil the meat in the oven.

When my amateur sleuth, coffeehouse manager Clare Cosi, made a version of this dish in Through the Grinder, she cooked it in a cast iron skillet on the top of her stove. The stovetop is a great option, too, because it allows for pan drippings, which means...gravy! So I couldn’t resist having Clare whip up a delish side dish of Garlic Mashed Potatoes with Hearty Coffee Gravy. Yes. Coffee gravy! Lol! You can find those recipes in the back of Through the Grinder, too.

To find out more about my culinary mystery series, visit my Coffeehouse Mystery Web site, where you’ll find more recipes, as well.

Cheers, everyone! ~ Cleo


  1. Wow, this is going to be fun to try. I know what I'll be grilling next week! Thanks for this unique idea, Cleo!

  2. Yes, I can hear the sizzle!

    I'm such a coffee nut. I'm really looking forward to your recipes, Cleo. This one sounds like a winner!


  3. P.S....Great post on Chandler. I had no idea of the birth of Marlowe! Very interesting article.


  4. I had no idea you could use coffee in a marinade. I am absolutely trying this.
    I love Chandler, too, but I had no idea
    he was 45 when he started writing. Fabulous
    tidbit. Jenn

  5. Coffee in a marinade. I use it in my baking but have never tried a marinade. Great idea! Thanks for sharing.

  6. Julie - it's a fun recipe because it actually uses up the leftover coffee. Obviously the Coyle household has a lot! Lol! Now you've got me wondering...what coffee do they drink at the White House?!

    Elizabeth/Riley - Great to hear you're a java girl, too, and thanks for the comment on Chandler. He's been such an inspiration to me.

    Jenn - Thanks! And, of course, you know I'm waiting for that coffe-cupcake recipe. LOL!

  7. Avery - You're welcome! Coffee is my life. I haven't tried bathing in it yet, but you never know!

  8. Hey, dollface. You seem like a smart enough dame, but what the hell are you doin' ruinin' a perfectly good cuppa joe by pourin' it over raw meat? Chicken fry that slab o' beef, baby, and dump the java back in the cup where it belongs. OK? Got that? Good.

    Abysinia in the funny papers.
    Jack Shepard, PI

  9. Well hello, Jack. I see you've followed me over to this new binary crib. Listen, I appreciate your trying to be helpful, but I'd really rather you stick with helping Penelope at her Rhode Island bookshop. What does a ghost know about cuisine anyway? As I recall, your last meal was 1949, wasn't it?!


  10. My mouth is watering just reading this recipe!

    Great site. Looking forward to reading more of your books!

  11. Reply to LadyPI - Thanks! And thanks so much for stopping by and leaving a comment, too.

    I do believe Jack, the ghost, has bothered you before. But don't let that keep you away. I mean, you can use a little chill in July, right? Cuts down on the cost of air conditioning.


  12. Hi Cleo - Seems funny to be typing that since my mom's name was Cleo too!

    I think Jack and Pen make a great team. She is lucky to have him around, although it seems like there were some times in the beginning that she thought she was going crazy!

    Jack can stop by my binary crib anytime cuz, yeah I get kind of hot in the summer. He's the bomb! (He'll have to ask Pen what that means!)


    Lady PI

  13. Love the idea of coffe shop mysteries - and more ideas for using coffee. My dad made coffee gravy to pour over biscuits and ham on Sunday morning. And I have a couple of recipies I use, too, if you'd like to a them to your own.
    Looking forward to reading your series!

  14. Hi Kathleen!

    Sounds like your dad and I would get along great! If you ever want to share your recipes, just send them along to me - and if I ever use any, you can be sure I'll credit you...

    My public e-mail box is

    Java joy to you,
    Where coffee and crime are always brewing...