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One of our favorite cookbooks is The Art Of The Slow Cooker, by Andrew Schloss. We really didn’t understand how to properly use a slow cooker until reading this book, and now the most amazing things come out of it!! There are 3-4 recipes in there that we make over and over again. One of which is the Espresso Braised Beef Brisket. AMAZING!!!! The pan sauce that comes off of this recipe is just phenomenal, and it started an interesting train of thought that ended in a deliciously unholy union with a bowl of chili! Here’s what we came up with:

Espresso Braised Beef No-Bean Chili

  • 3 lbs beef — brisket, short ribs, or a chuck roast.
  • 2 Tbsp olive oil, divided
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 1/2 – 1 lb mushrooms, quartered
  • 1 poblano chili
  • 1/2 – 1 cup cilantro, finely chopped
  • 1 Tbsp + 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1/2 Tbsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 Tbsp smoked paprika
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  • 1/2 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 cup strongly brewed black coffee
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar (optional, for SCD legality)
  • 2 Tbsp honey
  • 1 can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes (use a brand that you trust to have no additives)

Spice Rub:

  • 2 Tbsp finely ground espresso beans (any dark roast is fine… the oilier, the better!)
  • 1 tsp garlic powder (use a brand that you trust not to contain any anti-caking agents. Penzy’s has promised me that their garlic powder contains only desiccated and milled garlic)
  • 1/2 tsp ground coriander
  • 1/4 tsp ground cumin
  • 1/2 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 Tbsp kosher salt
  1. Mix the spice rub ingredients together and rub into the meat. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and let rest for at least 1 hour.
  2. Heat one tbsp oil in a large skillet or ditch oven over medium-high heat. Brown the meat on all sides, about 2-3 minutes per side (more for a roast, less for short ribs or thinner brisket). If using brisket, begin with fatty side down. Transfer to slow cooker.
  3. Turn heat down to medium and saute onion until browned. Add mushrooms and cook until softened. Add 1 Tbsp garlic and cook for another 30 seconds. Stir in cumin, oregano, smoked paprika, and cloves.
  4. Stir in remaining ingredients and bring to a boil. Pour mixture over the beef.
  5. Cover the cooker and cook for 4-6 hours on high, or 8-10 hours on low.
  6. Towards the end of the cooking time, roast the poblano chili over a stove burner and place in a bag to sweat. Peel the skin, remove the seeds, and chop roughly. Puree the chili with 1 tsp garlic and the cilantro, creating a sort of pesto. Stir into the slow cooker. It’s done cooking when the meat is fork tender.
  7. Optional: If you like your chili extra spicy, then add 1-3 Tbsp ground chili or chili flakes when adding the chili-cilantro pesto.

When I describe this recipe to folks, I often get a very skeptical look about the whole ‘coffee and beef’ thing. Trust me on this! I promise you that a) your house will smell AH-MAZING!, and b) it will be delicious beyond your imaginings! Give it a try, and let me know how it works out for you. If you make a variation on it, leave me a comment and let me know… I’d love to hear about it!