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Mocha coffee sauce Here in Finland, coffee-flavoured sauces have traditionally been paired with lamb or mutton dishes, like roasts, or a roast may be basted with brewed coffee during baking.

In the old days, and sometimes even today, many Finns claimed lamb or mutton to have "a distinctive taste of lambswool"  —  although I think it were mainly those who just did not like the flavour of these meats in general. This is one reason for the popularity of coffee-flavoured sauces, as the strong coffee somewhat masked the "strong" flavour of lamb/mutton.

However, as the more strongly-flavoured mutton (unfortunately) is almost unavailable in Finland today and most meat coming from sheep is (nearly tasteless) lamb, lamb dishes in Finland can no longer be accused of tasting of "old woollen socks". Regardless of this, the coffee-flavoured sauce still makes a nice complement to lamb!

About Mocha coffee

In most of the world, the term moca/mocha (mokka here in Finland) has been used of old for strong, black coffee brewed from finest Coffea arabica coffee beans initially of Yemeni-origin, served in special, often highly decorative, tiny cups, called mocha cups.

This type of coffee may be called mokka/mocka/mocca in the Nordic countries, moka in French-speaking countries, mokka/mocca in German-speaking countries, mokka in the Netherlands, moca in Italy, moca/mocha in Spain or Portugal, mokko/mokka in Russia, etc.

In addition, the word mokka is used in Finland in titles of many savoury or sweet dishes or beverages whenever they contain good strong coffee as a flavouring ingredient.

In the USA, Britain and other countries sharing the Anglo-American culture, the term mocha is somewhat confusingly used for beverages mixing coffee, milk and chocolate or cocoa, like café mocha.

1½ tbsp sugar
1 shallot or 1 small regular onion
2 - 3 garlic cloves
1 tbsp balsamic vinegar
250 ml white or brown beef stock, preferably homemade (or water and good-quality meat fumet)
1 tbsp whole espresso coffee beans
100 ml cream
1 small sprig of thyme
25 g cold butter

Peel and roughly chop the shallot/onion and the garlic cloves. Bring the meat stock to the boil.

Gently heat the sugar in a medium saucepan until it melts and acquires a pale caramel colour. Stir in the onions, balsamic vinegar and the hot stock and bring to the boil. Let the mixture boil briskly until the liquid is reduced almost by half.

Add the cream, the coffee beans and the sprig of thyme. Bring to the boil and let simmer and infuse for about 20 minutes, during which the sauce will also thicken.

Strain the sauce, clean the saucepan and pour the sauce back in it. Return the pan to the warm stove and briskly whip in the cold butter in small knobs.

Serve the sauce with lamb roast, roasted/fried lamb chops, lamb tenderloin, etc.
Serves 2.

Recipe source: adapted from "Mokkakastike" by chef Jyrki Sukula, MTV3/Ruokala, early 2000s.


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