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Cup O' Joe In The Crockpot

CDKitchen Cooking Columnist Pamela Chester
About the author: Pamela Chester
Mom of two; graduate French Culinary Institute; kids cooking program instructor; Master's degree in food studies. Creates kid friendly foods and loves her slow cooker.
One of my latest food related obsessions has been a good cup of coffee. It’s gotten to the point where I can’t start my morning without one (or three depending on my level of sleep deprivation). Just like millions of other people, I need that little boost of caffeine to get going.

And hey, I can rest easy knowing that caffeine in small doses is good for me -– coffee is practically a health food! It has been shown by Harvard researchers to reduce the risk of Type 2 Diabetes, along with other studies showing a reduced risk for Parkinson’s disease and colon cancer. Other benefits of coffee drinking include improving your mood and preventing cavities, and remedying headaches.

At home I have a twelve cup coffeemaker. On most mornings when I need a cup first thing, I am usually half awake, fumbling around trying to make the coffee by eye rather than measuring it out precisely and constantly end up making more than I need. I have been experimenting by buying different types of beans that I grind myself, and don’t want any to go to waste. So I am faced with the dilemma of how to use up the remainder in the pot. One way is to refrigerate it and make iced coffee the next morning. But there is another way to use some of it up: have you ever heard of cooking with coffee?

Being a lover of all things to do with java, I also like chocolate covered espresso beans, cappuccino scented tiramisu, and of course coffee ice cream is one of my favorite flavors. Not only is coffee a great accent to dessert items, it also adds a robust flavor to savory dishes. Southerners have long used coffee as an accent to red eye gravy, an essential with pan-fried country ham.

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One creative way to use up your morning’s coffee is to use it in tonight’s chili. You can add a cup to the slow cooker with the rest of the chili ingredients for added richness and color. Next time you are braising some short ribs or cooking up a batch of chicken wings, throw in a cup of joe for a little zing.

Most recipes involving coffee call for strongly brewed coffee. This is not a problem for me since I usually like my coffee as dark and thick as mud. But if you prefer a gentler brew, you can always make a new, darker batch just for cooking. Also, if unlike me, you measure precisely, just plan ahead to make one more cup than you would normally drink. You can pour any leftover coffee into an ice cube tray, freeze, and store the coffee cubes in a sealed plastic bag to be added to your cooking at a moment’s notice.

Coffee also adds a flavorful punch to a dry rub or a homemade barbecue sauce. (Or do both if you really want to add some pep to your step.) Let this coffee accented barbecue sauce percolate in your slow cooker all day. It’s a great as a marinade or a finishing sauce for grilled meats such as pork or chicken. It can be kept covered in the fridge for up to two weeks. This recipe comes just in time for Memorial Day, the official start to the summer grilling season!

Slow Cooker Coffee Barbecue Sauce

Slow Cooker Coffee Barbecue Sauce

Made with ketchup, cumin, cider vinegar, chicken or beef broth, brown sugar, onion, garlic, jalapeno pepper, split and seeded (use more if desired), Worcestershire sauce, chili powder

get the recipe

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