Looking back, I think my first time I saw “coffee rub” on a menu, I was probably too young to actually drink coffee. Still, I have a feeling that my first bite (likely taken off of my sister’s plate) set off a web of new connections in my brain. That bite was a game-changer. Suddenly, nothing–and everything–made sense. Coffee, a dark drink for “grown ups” could somehow become part of dinner, no styrofoam cups in sight. What’s more–it was delicious.
Since then, it seems like I’ve been a lot more adventurous with flavor pairings. Sure, there are some failed experiments here and there, but sometimes you strike gold. Inspiration can come from anywhere; I learned that I loved the combination of coffee and dark berries when I was in Tbilisi, Republic of Georgia, and accidentally ordered a combination of coffee and black currant gelato (Kartuli is a tough language). Besides the added sugar, I think the earthy notes of coffee play nicely with berries–especially blackberries, currants, and blueberries. I’ll talk more about this in a different post in the next few weeks, and link it back here.
This is the type of dish that makes me ask, “why eat out?”. You can use chicken, beef, pork or lamb, and the combination of sides is nearly endless.
Let’s get started–you’ll need:
1 Pork Loin Roast, fat and silver skin trimmed
1 Cup Coffee Rub*
2 Cups Dark Berries
4 Cups Fresh Spinach
1 Can Cannellini Beans, Rinsed
3 Sprigs of Thyme
3 Garlic Cloves
1/4 Cup Flour
1/2 Cup Sugar
1 Tbs Butter
1/2 Cup Balsamic Vinegar
1/2 Cup Water
Salt and Pepper, To Taste
*I make my own coffee rub, but you can use a pre-mixed rub that you like!
1. Pat the pork loin dry with paper towel, then season with salt and pepper on all sides. Coat generously with coffee rub, cover, and set aside for at least twenty minutes to allow the meet to come up to room temperature.
2. Heat a small amount of oil in a pan on med-high, pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
3. Sear the pork loin on all sides, then remove from the pan, and place it in the oven to finish cooking to your desired temperature.
4. Place the cooking pan back on medium heat, and add butter, and 1 clove of minced garlic. As water is released, use a wooden spoon to scrape up the fond. Add flour, and allow it to toast slightly until golden brown. Add in berries, sugar, and a small amount of water if necessary to cover the berries. Stir occasionally and allow to simmer until the berries begin to fall apart, and a thick sauce forms. Stir in balsamic vinegar, and season to taste with salt and pepper. Remove from heat, and allow to cool slowly.
5. In another pan, heat olive oil on medium heat, and stir in remaining minced garlic. Mix in cannellini beans, sautée for 1 minute, then stir in spinach until it wilts. Season with salt and pepper, and remove from heat.
6. Plate, and Serve.