Coffee Rubbed Beef with Farro and Wild Mushrooms

This recipe is based on the ancient grain called “farro” that has been used in Italy since Roman times. It is imported from Umbria and Abruzzo. In the US, it is called “spelt”. Farro has a wonderful earthy flavor, a great texture and is simple to cook. It’s a great alternative to pasta or rice.

I’ve created this dish to pair with the Paradise Ridge Rockpile Cabernet 2002. The coffee and sea salt help to balance the tannins of the wine with the mushrooms and cherries. This can be served as a room temperature luncheon or as a warm dinner. It is delicious, rustic and very nutritious. The farro in this recipes makes enough for 6, so you’re assured of extra for a quick lunch the next day!

Yield: 4 portions

  • 1 pound beef tri-tip or New York Steak, trimmed, no fat
  • 1 teaspoon ground coffee
  • To taste sea salt, medium coarse
  • 8 grinds black pepper
  • 1 Tablespoon canola oil
  • 3 each whole garlic cloves, peeled, leave garlic cloves whole
  • ¼ cup Extra Virgin Olive oil
  • ¼ each medium yellow onion, fine diced
  • 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt
  • 8 grinds black pepper
  • ½ cup carrot, peeled and diced (approximately 1 medium-sized carrot)
  • ¼ pound crimini mushrooms (approx 10), halved and sliced [or you can use any wild mushroom you’d like]
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1½ teaspoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 1 cup semi-pearled farro
  • 1½ quarts salted water for cooking the farro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh Italian parsley, chopped
  • ¼ cup sun-dried cherries, roughly chopped
  • 4 each sprigs of fresh thyme or oregano
  • 2 ounces aged white cheddar cheese, medium-sharp, diced 3/8 inch
  • 1 quart arugula, cleaned


The beef can be served warm or room temperature for this dish, as can the farro. If you prefer the beef to be served warm, start the farro first, then cook the beef while the farro in cooking. You can easily reheat the farro in the oven before serving.

Ask your butcher to trim the beef and remove all the outside fat, and to cut it into pieces, with the grain, that are 1” thick. At home, place the beef on a cutting board between 2 pieces of plastic wrap and pound with the smooth side of a mallet until it is ¾” thick. This will help tenderize the meat.

Remove the top layer of plastic, and season the top side of the meat evenly with 1/2 teaspoon of ground coffee, 4 grinds of a peppermill and enough sea salt (medium coarse from a grinder). Turn the meat and do the same to the other side.

Place a medium sauté pan over medium heat. Place the canola oil in the pan, then place the seasoned beef into the cold sauté pan. Place a grill press on top of the beef and cook uncovered for 5 minutes or until the bottom of the beef is nicely seared. Remove the press, turn the beef, replace the press and reduce the heat to medium-low. Cook until the beef is medium-rare, approximately 4-5 minutes more.

Remove the press and place the beef on a platter to rest.

The Farro

Place a small sauce pan over medium-low heat. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and the whole garlic cloves. Cook slowly for 5-7 minutes, turning the garlic a few times during the cooking so they are golden brown on all sides.

Add the onions, ½ teaspoon of salt and 8 grinds of black pepper. Cover and cook for 5 minutes, or until the onions are translucent.

Add the carrots and cook for another 4-5 minutes. Then, add the mushrooms, thyme and oregano. Cover and cook for 8-10 minutes, until the mushrooms and carrots are cooked.

Meanwhile, place the salted water in a medium sauce pan and bring to a rolling boil. Add the farro and reduce the heat to medium. Simmer for approximately 20-25 minutes, until the farro is cooked. It is ready when it has a consistent dense texture (al dente: it still has a “bite” to it) throughout without tasting hard or raw in the center.

Drain the farro into a colander and then place in a mixing bowl. Add 1 Tablespoon of olive oil and mix gently. Add the vegetable mixture, dried cherries and chopped parsley to the farro and mix. Add additional coarse sea salt and ground pepper to taste.

To Serve

Place a handful of arugula on each of 4 plates, top with a cup of the farro. Slice the beef into 20 nice slices and place 5 slices on each plate. Sprinkle with the diced white cheddar, and drizzle the beef, farro and arugula with the remaining olive oil. Garnish with fresh herb sprigs.

Serve with a small bowl of coarse sea salt for your guests to sprinkle as needed.

This is a great dish to serve family style.

Enjoy with a glass of Cabernet!

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