Food & Drink | November 2017

By Abby & Kevin Tankersley

Cookin' Local

We’re pretty lucky here in the Waco area, at least looking at things from a food point of view. The grocery store marketplace is dominated by H-E-B, a San Antonio-based company that does things the right way. In addition, we have the Waco Downtown Farmers Market, where fresh produce, meat, cheese and all manner of products can be bought directly from farmers, makers and growers.

We wrote about our successful attempt to prepare dinner from ingredients only purchased at the farmers market in this space in April 2016. We bought all the main ingredients we needed for that meal — Spatchcock Chicken, Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Swiss Chard, and Arugula Salad — plus a few staples we needed, such as honey, sea salt and three types of cheese, all of which lasted much longer than that one dinner.

For this month’s meal, we wanted to go local again. Instead of another trip to the farmers market — which has been temporarily displaced from its home by the Brazos River and is located at 500 Washington Avenue — we visited area purveyors themselves in search of the things we needed.

We decided on a menu of Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers on freshly made Pretzel Buns served with a classic French Carrot-Apple Salad. For dessert, we used some more of the freshly ground coffee from the cheeseburger rub to make a wonderful, boozy chocolate treat called Affogato Mocha. And anytime we have hamburgers at our house, we have to have Pineapple Cream Cheese Dip, a recipe we shared in the December 2016 magazine. (Here’s the condensed version: drain a can of crushed pineapple; drink the juice. Mix the pineapple with a block of cream cheese and serve with Fritos or H-E-B’s version of the corn chip. Don’t serve it with any other chip. It won’t work.) We also added a recipe for short ribs if you’re in the market for other meat dishes that call for good coffee.

We ventured to Pinewood Roasters on Austin Avenue for the first time in search of coffee for the rub. We went with Ethiopia Kochere, with “notes of cherry, apricot, floral, sweet, creamy,” according to the bag. We had the beans ground for us there at Pinewood.

The coffee rub is good on any cut of meat, especially a steak that you’re going to grill. And buy good coffee for the rub. It’s especially essential to use quality coffee for the short rib recipe here. (And you’ll have enough coffee left over for your morning brew as well.)

The ground beef for the burgers came from JZJ Natural Beef in Troy, though we bought a couple of pounds of it at Texas Cheese House in Lorena. JZJ also has roasts and several varieties of steak available as well as whole, half and quarter carcasses for those with ample freezer space.

For the bacon that topped the burger (that we forgot to add for the photo shoot), we used garlic bacon we had in the freezer from a late-summer trip to Green’s Sausage House. Though the street address — 16483 State Highway 53 — says it’s in Temple, the meat market/restaurant is actually in Zabcikville, a small Czech community that’s not really close to anything else except Cyclone Corral, an open-air, all-you-can-eat barbecue restaurant that’s open on Friday and Saturday evenings from April through October. On our most recent visit to Green’s, in addition to the garlic bacon, we also bought a couple varieties of sausage as well as some beef sticks to tide us over on the drive back home.

There was a Cheers-like atmosphere at Bare Arms Brewing on a recent Thursday afternoon. When I explained to the employee on duty that I needed a beer to serve alongside a coffee-rubbed hamburger, he consulted with four customers seated at the bar, guys who appeared to be regulars there. They debated about setting me up with Java Joule, “a rich, complex chocolate coffee stout” that’s brewed with local coffee, but they decided that would be too much coffee flavor. Instead, I left with a big can of 1849, a “Vienna-style lager … with a light hop profile and full of sweet, toasty malt” that paired nicely with the burger.

The Recipes

Coffee-Rubbed Cheeseburgers

For the coffee rub:

  • 1 tablespoon freshly ground coffee
  • 2 teaspoons brown sugar
  • 2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

For the burgers:

  • 8 slices bacon
  • 2 pounds ground beef
  • 8 slices smoked provolone or smoked Gouda cheese
  • Pretzel buns (recipe follows)
  • Lettuce, tomatoes and other toppings of choice

For the coffee rub, mix all the ingredients together in a small bowl; set aside.

For the burgers, cook the bacon in a skillet or in the oven until crisp, then drain on paper towels.

Form the meat into 8 patties and use your thumb to gently make an indention in the center of each patty. Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of the coffee rub on one side of each burger.

Cook the patties in a skillet or on the grill until done to your liking. Top with the bacon and cheese; cook for a few minutes longer until the cheese begins to melt. Place each patty on a pretzel bun and top with your choice of toppings. Makes about 8 burgers.

[Editor’s Note: The coffee rub can be used on just about any cut of beef. It’s really good on a steak that’s going to be grilled.]

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Pretzel Buns

For the dough:

  • 2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 2 1/4 teaspoons instant yeast
  • 1 cup warm water

For the topping:

  • 1 cup boiling water
  • 2 tablespoons baking soda
  • Kosher or pretzel salt (optional)
  • 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

Heat the oven to 475 F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper.

Place the flour, salt, sugar and yeast in the bowl of a food processor equipped with a steel blade. Process for 5 seconds. Add the water; process for 7-10 seconds, until the dough starts to clear the sides of the bowl. Process for another 45 seconds.

Place a handful of flour in another bowl, scoop the dough into the bowl and shape the dough into a ball, coating it with the flour. Cover the dough loosely with plastic wrap, leaving room for it to expand, and let it rest at room temperature for 30 minutes.

While the dough is resting, prepare the topping. Place the baking soda in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish and pour over the boiling water. Stir until the soda is dissolved. Set aside to cool to lukewarm.

Transfer the dough to a lightly greased work surface and divide it into five equal pieces. Allow the pieces to rest, uncovered, for 5 minutes.

Shape the pieces of dough into balls. Transfer to the baking pan with the soda-water mixture and coat the dough all over with the mixture.

Leave the buns in the water for 2 minutes before placing them on the prepared baking sheet. Sprinkle the buns lightly with the salt, if desired. Allow the buns to rest, uncovered, for 10 minutes.

Bake the buns for 8-9 minutes, or until they’re golden brown. Rotate the pan halfway through the cooking time.

Remove the pan from the oven and brush the buns thoroughly with the melted butter, using all the butter. Use a serrated knife to slice the buns in half horizontally, then proceed to make the burgers. Makes about 5 buns.
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French Carrot-Apple Salad

  • 7 large carrots, peeled and finely grated
  • 1-2 Granny Smith apples, peeled and sliced
  • Half a bunch of parsley, coarsely chopped
  • Juice of two lemons
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil
  • Pinch of sugar
  • Salt and pepper

In a large bowl, mix together the apples, carrots and parsley.

In a small bowl, whisk together the lemon juice, olive oil, sugar, salt and pepper.

Add some of the dressing to the carrot mixture and toss well. Don’t overdress the salad; the carrots just need enough dressing to have a sheen. Taste and add more lemon juice, sugar, salt or pepper as needed. Makes about 8-10 servings.
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Affogato Mocha

  • 1 pint chocolate ice cream
  • 8 tablespoons finely chopped bittersweet (not unsweetened) or semisweet chocolate
  • 8 tablespoons hot freshly brewed espresso coffee
  • 8 tablespoons dark rum

Divide the ice cream among 4 dessert bowls or coffee cups. Spoon 2 tablespoons each of chocolate, espresso and rum over ice cream; serve immediately. Makes 4 servings.
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Coffee-Ancho Short Ribs

  • 4 dried ancho chilies, stemmed and seeded, ribs discarded
  • 2 cups boiling-hot water
  • 1 medium onion, quartered
  • 3 garlic cloves, coarsely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped canned chipotle chilies in adobo, plus 2 teaspoons adobo sauce
  • 2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 3 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 6 pounds beef short ribs
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup brewed coffee

Heat oven to 350 F.

Soak the ancho chilies in boiling-hot water until softened, for about 20 minutes, then drain in a colander set over a bowl. Taste the soaking liquid. It will be a little bitter, but if unpleasantly so, discard it; otherwise, reserve it for braising.

Transfer the chilies to a blender and puree with onion, garlic, chipotles, adobo sauce, maple syrup, lime juice and 1 teaspoon salt to make a soaking liquid.

Pat the ribs dry and sprinkle with pepper and remaining 2 teaspoons salt. Heat the oil in a 12-inch heavy skillet over medium-high heat until hot but not smoking; brown the ribs in 3 batches, turning occasionally, for about 5 minutes per batch. As they’re browned, transfer to a roasting pan just large enough to hold ribs in 1 layer.

Carefully add the chili puree to the fat remaining in the skillet and cook over medium-low heat, stirring frequently, for 5 minutes. Add the reserved chili soaking liquid, or 1 1/2 cups water, and coffee and bring all to a boil; pour over the ribs. The liquid should come about halfway up the sides of meat.

Cover the roasting pan tightly with foil and braise the ribs in the middle of the oven until very tender, for 3-3 1/2 hours. Skim the fat from the pan juices and serve with the ribs. Makes about 6 servings.

[Editor’s Note: Short ribs improve in flavor if they’re braised 2 days before serving.]

Cook the ribs as directed and cool them uncovered. Then cover the surface of the ribs with parchment or wax paper, cover the pan with foil and refrigerate. Remove any solidified fat before reheating.
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