Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Braised Chicken

Starbucks VIA Colombia Braised Chicken

The coffee aisles of my local grocery stores have been growing in recent years.  But, for some reason, coffee has never really made into the mainstream as a cooking ingredient.  Perhaps that’s because ground coffee is too coarse to dissolve nicely into a sauce, and instant coffees are notorious for their crappiness.  Well, we may be turning a culinary corner with the introduction of Starbucks VIA Ready Brew – the first instant coffee from Starbucks, and a new staple-to-be of my spice rack.  For this recipe, I chose the Colombia roast, which is a medium-bodied coffee that adds a subtle but important rich background flavor to the braised chicken.  The sweet onions balance out the bitterness of the coffee and make this a wonderful and unique dish.

Makes: 2 Grande Servings
Total kitchen time: 75 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 2 boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
  • 1 large white onion, diced
  • 1 tbsp. brown sugar
  • 2 single-serving packets Starbucks VIA Ready Brew Colombia
  • 2 1/2 cups water
  • 1 can white beans, drained
  • Olive oil
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat a dutch oven over high heat.  (You can use a heavy-bottomed pot or deep skillet with a tight-fitting lid).
  2. Coat the chicken breasts on all sides with a small amount of olive oil.  Add to the pot and sear each side until lightly browned, about 1 minute per side.  Remove the chicken and let rest.
  3. Add the cider vinegar and deglaze the bottom of the pan with a spoon (scrape up all the brown bits).
  4. Add the diced onion and reduce the heat to medium.  Sweat the onion over medium heat until softened and slightly browned, about 3 minutes. 
  5. Add the Starbucks VIA Ready Brew coffee and stir to coat the onions.  Then, add the water and brown sugar.  Stir to combine, and add salt and pepper, to taste.
  6. Return the chicken to the pot and bring the liquid to a boil.  Cover and reduce to a simmer for about an hour, or until the chicken pulls apart easily with a fork. 
  7. Before plating, warm the white beans in a small skillet.  Plate a portion of beans into a shallow bowl, then add one chicken breast and top with onions.

I’m excited by the notion that coffee may appear more widely than as a pork rub or in baked goods.  I can’t think of any other ingredient that imparts as rich a flavor and aroma, except perhaps wine.  Hmm, coffee and wine sharing culinary characteristics?  This is gonna get really interesting…

Full disclosure: I got free stuff but that doesn’t pay for my opinion.

Starbucks Via Ready Brew Braised Chicken on Foodista

Red Wine Mushrooms (Great with Chicken!)

mushrooms cooking 

This is one of the first things I learned to make when I started cooking on my own.  It’s simple, hard to mess up, and delicious.  Plus, its a pretty cheap way to dress up plain chicken. 

Makes: 4 servings
Total kitchen time: 25 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1 tbsp. butter
  • 1 tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 large shallot, finely diced
  • 1/2 cup red wine (use a bottle you’d actually drink)
  • 4 cups (about 2 packages) crimini or white mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tbsp. Herbs de Provençe (seasoning blend)
  • kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  1. Heat the butter an oil together in a heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat.
  2. Add the shallot and sauté until soft, about 3 minutes.
  3. Add the red wine and stir to deglaze the pan.  The shallots will have started to brown just slightly, leaving wonderful sticky stuff on the bottom of the pan.  The acid from the wine will cause those brown bits to release and get reincorporated into the liquid.  That’s called deglazing.
  4. Bring the wine to a boil and let it reduce for about 1 minute.
  5. Add the mushrooms, stirring to mix everything together.  Add the salt, pepper and herbs de Provençe.  Reduce the heat to low and simmer for about 15 minutes, or until the mushrooms are soft and tender.
  6. To serve, spoon the mushrooms over chicken, pasta, steak, or whatever else your heart desires.

 chicken with mushrooms

Pictured above, I’ve topped some Hens Provençal with a generous helping of the mushrooms.  I also added some butternut squash, sweet potatoes and turnips to the roasting pan for a bit of extra color and flavor.

Chicken Katsu Salad with Honey-Ginger Dressing

katsu salad
Have you ever gone to a Japanese restaurant and ordered chicken katsu?  It usually comes with a small salad topped with a sweet, creamy dressing.  What I’ve done here, you see, is put the chicken directly on the salad, and then taken some liberties with the ingredients.  The end result is a sophisticated main-course salad suitable for a fork or chopsticks.

Makes: 2 people get up and gyoza
Total kitchen time: 45 minutes

Shopping list:

  • 1-2 chicken breasts, boneless, skinless
  • 1 egg
  • 1/2 cup panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
  • 1 1/3 cups green cabbage, shredded
  • 1 1/3 cups red cabbage, shredded
  • 1 cup muscat grapes, halved (These are very sweet grapes.  If you can’t find muscat, use the next sweetest grape you can find)
  • 1 Asian pear, peeled and cut into sticks
  • 2 tbsp. slivered almonds
  1. Preheat your oven to 400°F and set the top rack in the bottom third of the oven.  Line a baking sheet with parchment paper, if you’ve got some available.  This won’t make the food taste better, but it will make cleanup that much sweeter.
  2. Place the chicken breasts between two large layers of plastic wrap.  Using a mallet or the bottom of a heavy skillet, pound the breasts out flat.  Salt and pepper the chicken breasts generously on both sides.
  3. Beat the egg in a small bowl.  Then, lightly coat each chicken breast with the beaten egg, again on both sides.  Sprinkle the panko flakes over the breasts – you guessed it – on both sides.  Arrange the breasts on your parchment-lined baking sheet, leaving lots of room in between.
  4. Bake the chicken breasts at 400°F for 25 minutes or until a thermometer inserted in the breast reads 165°F.  Transfer to a cutting board and slice into 1/2″ pieces.
  5. Meanwhile, toss the remaining ingredients together in a large bowl.  When the chicken is ready, plate the salad first, then top with the chicken.  Finally, drizzle over a generous amount of the honey-ginger dressing (recipe follows).

Honey-ginger dressing:

  • 4 tbsp. real mayonnaise
  • 2 tbsp. peanut oil (or sesame oil)
  • 2 tbsp. mirin (sweet rice wine)
  • 1 tbsp. blue agave nectar (substitute with honey)
  • 1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 2 drops red chili oil
  • 1 tsp. sesame seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a small food processor, or whisk by hand if the power is out at your house.  Check the taste and adjust with salt and agave nectar as needed.  The final dressing should be sweet but mild.

Wow, I feel healthier already.  A salad with baked chicken breasts?  This could totally have been a 90’s fad diet, combining the allure of Japanese health-cuisine with the American penchant for crispy chicken.  Next time your belt doesn’t fit, or your cell phone won’t play back HD video, try out this recipe.