October 29th was National Coffee Day, and instead of just jazzing up my regular morning cup of Joe for a cooking segment on WCNC, I thought it would be fun to make something inspired by coffee that would be enjoyed later in the day. I don’t know why, but when I was trying to come up with a recipe for my segment, steak tacos popped into my head and stayed there. My initial plan was to do a coffee-based dessert, but steak tacos sounded too good to ignore. I’m not really a fan of coffee in savory dishes because I find the flavor to be a bit strong. A lot of recipes on the internet are heavy-handed with coffee as an ingredient, but I knew I could come up with a dish that would incorporate the flavor of coffee without being too in your face with the caffeinated beverage.
I basically infused my everyday Tex-Mex rub with a little instant espresso powder, which did the trick. My grilled steak was flavorful and the espresso powder added depth to the background flavor of the meat. The only thing I would do differently is grill the coffee-chili rubbed steak outside and not in the kitchen. I wasn’t prepared for the fumes given off by the instant espresso powder. The smoke had a nice little grip that held me by the throat until I opened all the windows in the kitchen. Adequate ventilation is definitely a must when grilling steak indoors, which I should already know since I’m supposed to be a professional cook. Oops!
Since it’s officially fall, I made a roasted sweet potato and black bean salsa to round out the flavor of the tacos. These tacos are AMAZING and well worth the coughing fit that may occur if the vent is off and the kitchen windows are closed.
Let me know when you make this recipe. Take a picture and hashtag it #QUEENCITYKITCHEN. I can’t wait to see what you post!
Coffee-Chili Rub Steak Tacos with Roasted Sweet Potato and Black Bean Salsa
Makes 4 servings
1½ pounds flank steak
5 teaspoon coffee-chili rub, recipe follows
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and diced
Coarse-ground black pepper
1 small red onion, diced
½ red bell pepper, seeded and diced
½ yellow bell pepper, seeded and diced
½ cup canned black beans, drained and rinsed
1 tablespoon cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
8 (4.5-inch) flour tortillas (street tacos)
2 jalapeños, sliced and seeds removed
1 avocado, chopped and tossed with 1 tablespoon lime juice
2 limes, quartered
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
Season flank steak with the spice blend, rubbing it all over the meat. Allow the steak to sit for 1 hour to come to room temperature.
Meanwhile, prepare the salsa. Line a baking sheet with foil and place on the baking sheet. Drizzle with oil and season with salt and pepper, tossing to coat. Roast the potatoes until tender and browned, about 30 minutes. Transfer to a large bowl and cool completely. Add the onion, bell peppers, black beans, cilantro, and lime juice to the bowl. Season with salt and pepper. Toss to combine.
Preheat a large grill pan over medium-high heat and brush with oil. Grill the steak until medium-rare, about 4 minutes per side. Remove the steak to a cutting board, cover with foil, and rest for 5 minutes. Cut the steak across the grain into ¼-inch thick slices.
To assemble your tacos, place slices of steak on the tortillas and top with sweet potato salsa. Garnish with sliced jalapeño, avocado, and queso fresco. Finish with a squeeze of lime juice
Coffee-Chili Spice Rub
¼ cup instant espresso powder
¼ cup ancho chili powder
¼ cup light brown sugar, packed
2 tablespoons smoked paprika
2 tablespoons kosher salt
1 tablespoon cumin
1½ teaspoons coarse-ground black pepper
1 teaspoon dried mustard
1 teaspoon dried oregano
½ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
Mix instant espresso powder, chili powder, brown sugar, paprika, salt, cumin, pepper, mustard, dried oregano, and red pepper flakes in a small bowl until combined. Store in an air-tight container.