Caffeinated Freekeh Chicken

I was prepping a batch of parts for some highly versatile chicken bowls but was at a loss for what kind of liquid I should slow-cook the chicken in. Previously I have used a variety of liquids such as vegetable stock, hot sauces (which are great if you want an overall BBQ or spicy flavor), and likely just water. But it’s a new year, it’s time to be wacky and frugal all at the same time! Look, in the fridge, some coffee you brewed this morning getting all nice and cold that shouldn’t go to waste. Into the pot!

Organic Freekeh from Village Harvest; Tanzania Highland Peaberry coffee from Gillie's Coffee.

Organic Freekeh from Village Harvest; Tanzania Highland Peaberry coffee from Gillie’s Coffee.

I bought this coffee by chance a couple weeks ago at the Buford Highway Farmers Market and am so in love with it, I would marry it, and I have vowed never to marry again. Tanzania Highland Peaberry from Gillie’s Coffee which you can order online. It has that magical coffee superpower where it smells like something that is going to peel your hair right off and then punch you in the face but when you take that first sip, you feel like you’ve been transplanted to a time where it was possible it was just you and that coffee plant, hanging out on a cool morning, being smooth.

Alas, I don’t have any elaborate “after” photos of the chicken but suffice to say it looks like shredded chicken. I did also add a fair bit of turmeric and lemon thyme (from my garden last year) with some pepper and salt to taste as it was finishing cooking.

The taste of the coffee brewed chicken was really not what I thought it would be but it was really quite delicious! To say that it had a “deeper” flavor probably sounds a bit weird but the breast meat I had used took on a more thigh flavor. The thigh is my favorite part of the chicken but typically only if the bird is roasted. The turmeric blended nicely and if the thyme was adding anything, my palate is too unrefined to have noticed.

So have you read about freekeh? It’s one of those ancient grains that in our lust for corn and modern wheat apparently we’ve forgotten about in highly industrialized places. I saw it at Costco (which has been fabulous lately about carrying all sorts of interesting food things to try) from Village Harvest and decided to give it a go. I didn’t notice until I got it home I could also make it in the rice cooker which was a total bonus (using the brown rice setting). It is a form of wheat so if you have allergies and the like you should maybe skip. What I liked immediately about this grain was the delicious nutty flavor and the slightly chewy texture but not as chewy as whole wheat berries. It really reminded me of couscous but a bit bigger.

I’ve also noticed that when I use it in dishes I don’t feel hungry for many hours later. I chalk this up to the amount of protein and fiber in each serving (11g and 8g respectively for a 1/2 cup serving which you don’t think is a lot but is plenty). You can freeze it too which makes it really handy for adding to soups or salads later to really add a nice complex carb punch to your dishes.

To recreate the caffeinated chicken in the slow cooker, use 1 c. brewed coffee, 6 not gigantic boneless chicken breasts, probably about 1.5 tsp of turmeric (but I just eyeballed it), thyme, pepper, salt as desired. Depending on the settings on your cooker, when the chicken has about an hour left the chicken will be falling apart. Use a fork or some tongs to help shred the chicken, give everything a stir and let it cook for probably another 30 minutes. I think my cooker runs a bit hot because if I let mine go for the full amount of time then I end up with some dried up bits around the corners. Use a meat thermometer if you want to be 100% sure your meat is good to go (and recommend the same when you are heating it up or at least get it to the point where you can see steam coming off).

 

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