Let me ask you something, coffee lovers of the universe. When you first tried coffee, did it taste like a piece of leather that had been soaked in vinegar and then left outside at the height of a Texas summer for two weeks? Because that’s the initial image that came to mind when I tried coffee for the first time. I keep coming back to it, thinking I will finally like the taste of coffee because I’m, you know, super mature and all. Right… It still tastes like a pickled and sun-dried piece of leather to me. I suppose it’s an acquired taste, yes?
I so wish that coffee tasted as good as it smells. It’s like the exact opposite of stinky cheese. I very much wish that Gruyere smelled the way that it tastes. But I have found the perfect way to get my coffee fix, and surprisingly enough, it does not include coffee cake. It does, however, involve tacos. I make a spicy and smoky chile-coffee rub that I spread over New York strip steaks. I turn that steak into savory tacos that I top with some pickled red onions, crumbled cotija cheese, and a squeeze of fresh lime juice.
- 2 red onions, thinly sliced
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 cup water
- 2 tablespoons granulated sugar
- 2 tablespoons + 2 teaspoons kosher salt
- 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
- 2 tablespoons chili powder
- 2 teaspoons ground coffee beans
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 2 (1 pound) New York strip steaks
- 12 corn tortillas
- 1/2 cup crumbled cotija cheese
- 2 limes, quartered
- Place the red onions in a small bowl. Combine the vinegar, water, sugar, and 2 tablespoons of salt in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Pour the liquid over the onions and let sit at room temperature for 30 to 45 minutes, until the onions turn bright pink in color.
- Preheat the oven to 400°F. Stir together the brown sugar, chili powder, coffee, paprika, remaining 2 teaspoons of salt, and the pepper in a small bowl to combine. Meanwhile, heat the olive oil in a large ovenproof skillet over medium-high heat. Rub the coffee mixture all over the steaks, covering completely. Sear the steaks for about 2 minutes per side, until a golden brown crust forms. Transfer to the oven and cook for 5 to 7 minutes, until the meat registers 125°F on a meat thermometer. Transfer the steaks to a cutting board and let rest for 10 minutes.
- Slice the steak against the grain into thin slices. Arrange the steak in the corn tortillas. Top each taco with some of the pickled onions, cotija cheese, and a squeeze of lime juice.