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Over at HubBub Central, we've got recipes on the brain. Why? Well we're involved in a pretty cool project that we're not at liberty to blab about just yet, but suffice to say, we've been dreaming up cool things to do with coffee. There's nothing wrong with simply drinking it - hey, the stuff is basically our life's blood. But when you start considering coffee as an ingredient, it gets the wheels turning. In our baking adventures, we've stumbled across the odd chocolate cake recipe that calls for a tablespoon or two of instant coffee grounds. There's also coffee ice cream, maybe a coffee spiked caramel if you're feeling adventurous. But more and more lately, we've been discovering savory recipes that call for coffee, and that's really piqued our interest.

Par exemple: coffee & chicken - not really two foods that you imagine getting along. And yet, it all makes perfect sense in the "Late Night Coffee Brined Chicken" recipe over at one of our favorite food blogs, Food52.

Food52 screenshot
Food52 screenshot

[Wait, time out. Do you know about Food52? It's the project of two former NY Times food writers, Amanda Hesser and Merrill Stubbs. They launched a cool website focused on the advancement of home cooks everywhere, and an entire vibrant community has sprung up around them. They've got brilliant articles, a searchable database of tested recipes, recipe contests, even a hotline to ask food-related questions! Their newest venture is Provisions, an online store with a curated selection of gorgeous tools and utensils, A+ ingredients, and vintage wares. Essentially, Food52 is one of the best places on the Internet to be if you care about food and cooking, or want to learn to be a more proficient home cook. Ok, now back to our normally scheduled blog post.]

Photo by Sarah Shatz for Food52
Photo by Sarah Shatz for Food52

So yeah, coffee and chicken - how does this work, exactly? Well, they meet and mingle in this recipe with the help of some diplomatic aromatics: peppercorns, cloves, and star anise, and a hit of citrus via a few fresh oranges. A whole chicken steeps for a few hours in the spiced coffee marinade, then is patted dry, rubbed down with brown sugar and cooked in the oven in a little milky bath for another hour.  Sounds crazy and rather divine, right?

For the non-meat eaters out there, may we suggest this recipe for Carrots Slow-Baked on Coffee Beans? We found this bizarre gem of a technique at The Splendid Table's website. It's adapted from a fancy pants restaurant in San Francisco called Coi. Apparently, the oils and aromas of the coffee beans gently seep into the carrots for a combined effect of subtle sweet earthiness. Hey, if Lynne Rossetto Kasper says it's delicious, who are we to argue? Yes, we are total NPR nerds.

Do you ever use coffee in the kitchen in unconventional ways? If so, we'd love to hear your techniques and tips in the comments!

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