Slow-Roasted Espresso Chicken

I know what you must be thinking.

Quinn, you haven’t cooked a single Thanksgiving dish!  I’ve been waiting ever so patiently to no avail. And you call yourself a food blogger? Shame on you!

Apparently I envision all of my readers as pretentious food critics with vaguely British accents, but that’s besides the point. The point is no, I have no Thanksgiving dishes for you. Thanksgiving recipes are ubiquitous in the food blogosphere, and since my family does a very traditional meal every year I would have nothing unique or adventurous to contribute to the mix

What I will be doing in the following weeks, however, is posting recipes for what to do with all those Thanksgiving leftovers you undoubtedly have in your refrigerator. You’ll learn soon enough that you don’t simply have to make turkey sandwiches until you reach the borders of your culinary sanity, so fear not.

In the mean time, however, allow me to share with you a delightful little dish I whipped up a few days ago: Slow-Roasted Espresso Chicken.

This dish was inspired by Starbucks. Well, sort of anyway. A month or two ago Starbucks sent me a free packet of Via as part of a promotion. Now, I don’t drink instant coffee (unless I’m camping) or Starbucks (unless I’m desperate), so I was tempted to just throw this away, but a little part of me was curious to see if I could incorporate it into a recipe. So instead of the trash, it wound up sitting in the back of my shelf.

I finally got around to using it, and boy am I glad I kept it. Coffee isn’t frequently thought of as an ingredient in savory dishes, but it can really bring unique complexity and roasty flavors. In this recipe, the bitterness of instant coffee is the perfect counterbalance to the sauce’s sweetness, derived primarily from the brown sugar and cherry tomatoes. A combination of varied spices and flavors – soy sauce and cumin!? – round out the flavor profile.

When the steam settles you’ll have tender shredded chicken in a one-of-a-kind sauce that is perfect with rice/over vegetables/in a taco/whatever your heart’s desire.

Slow-Roasted Espresso Chicken

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1/2 medium onion, diced
  • 12 cherry tomatoes
  • 3 tablespoons pepper
  • 3 tablespoons garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoons cayenne powder
  • 2 tablespoons cumin
  • 3 tablespoons instant espresso
  • 1/4 cup brown sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/3 cup soy sauce
  • 2 chicken breasts


  1. Heat the olive oil to medium heat in a coverable pan. Add the onion and saute until they begin to get translucent, approximately 5 minutes. Add the cherry tomatoes and continue to saute for another 3 minutes.
  2. Add all the ingredients except the chicken breasts. Bring the sauce to a low simmer and allow it to cook for 5 minutes.
  3. Reduce the heat to low and add the chicken breasts. Cover the pan and cook the chicken for at least 1 1/2 hours.
  4. Remove the chicken from the pan and shred it using a fork. Add back to the sauce and toss to coat evenly. Serve with rice, roasted vegetables and/or with pita bread.

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