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James Briscione's BBQ Recipe

James Briscione's Grilled Beef And Eggplant With Espresso Butter

As you gear up for a summer of al fresco dining, the most important culinary consideration should surround your backyard barbecue. Sure, you can keep it simple with hot dogs and hamburgers and large sirloin steaks, but after a year of Covid restrictions and forced separations, consider taking things up a notch.

Luckily for you, FDL has consulted an expert and is bringing you a magical food combination that will be sure to wow your pent-up guests. James Briscione, author of The Flavor Matrix and a new book Flavor for All is a wizard when it comes to scientifically combining unthought-of ingredients. He analyses chemical compounds to find the perfect flavour fusions that will wow your guests and titillate your own palate.

As you fire up the grill and celebrate a long-awaited social gathering after the restrictions of the last year or so, think about joining flavour forces that your partygoers will never forget.

02 July, 2021
Average: 2.3 (13 votes)

serves for



4 Japanese eggplants bitter
Kosher salt
Beef steak
Four 8- to 12-ounce steaks of your choice
Black pepper
Freshly ground black pepper
6 tablespoons Espresso Butter (recipe follows)
Extra virgin olive oil
4 tablespoons
2 Kirby cucumbers, sliced (about 1 1⁄2 cups)
2 teaspoons fresh lemon
8 ounces (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
Grated zest and juice of 1⁄2 lemon
Coffee powder
2 tablespoons espresso powder or ground coffee bitter
1 tablespoon chopped fresh mint
Kosher salt
2 teaspoons kosher salt
Black pepper
1⁄2 teaspoon, freshly ground

Beef and eggplant are two ingredients that absolutely love the flavour of char. In this recipe, we use espresso powder like a megaphone to blast those roasted and charred aromas throughout the dish. Compound butters are a cook’s secret weapon—they are the most effective way to add lots of big flavour to a dish with very little effort. You can make them, then wrap tightly and store in the freezer for months, to use whenever you want—which is why the recipe makes more than you’ll need. Surprisingly, the same charred aromas that make this dish so craveable link to citrusy aromas like linalool that also make your finished plate bright and fresh.




Bergamot, citrus, cilantro, lavender, lemon, rose

Step 01

Split the eggplant in half lengthwise. Lightly score the flesh side of the eggplant with a paring knife to create a diamond pattern. Season the flesh side lightly with salt and let stand while the steaks cook.

TIP: If they have a large curve or bend, cut each eggplant crosswise into 2 pieces to make splitting them easier. This will help to draw some of the excess moisture out of the eggplant before cooking.



Step 02

Heat a grill to high and oil the grates. Season the steaks well with salt and pepper.


Step 03

Cook to your desired doneness: for thinner steaks like flank or skirt fillet, about 5 minutes per side; for thicker steaks like hanger, rib-eye, or strip, 6 to 8 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Lift and rotate the steaks 90 degrees once when cooking each side.


Step 04

Remove the steaks from the grill, place them on a wire rack set over a baking sheet to rest, and top each with 1 tablespoon of the espresso butter (see how to make below). The butter should melt and run over the steaks as they rest.


Step 05

Pat the eggplant dry and brush the flesh of the eggplant with a generous amount of the olive oil, about 2 tablespoons total.

Step 06

To Make the Espresso Butter

Makes about 20 tablespoons

  1. Combine the butter, lemon zest and juice, espresso powder, mint, salt, and pepper in a bowl. Mix thoroughly until well combined.
  2. Keep at room temperature until you’re ready to serve.
  3. If you have any left over, scoop the remaining butter onto a piece of parchment paper and roll it into a log. Wrap tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate or store in the freezer for up to 6 months. Slice it while still cold.

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