Cacao-Rubbed Steak

29 Oct


As the temperatures fall this month, I expect many people to be hesitant about going outside to grill food. Personally, we keep the grill outside and ready all year long, but I realize that not everyone feels that way (especially my Midwestern readers, whose winters are a little more significant than ours). So I thought it would be a good time to work on a solid, foolproof pan-seared steak recipe.

To be honest, we as a family don’t eat steak much, due to its high price point. But it’s an excellent celebratory meal, or for when you’re looking for a simple, developed taste without having to spend much time preparing your meal. Generally, steaks are made from the most tender cuts of the animal and cooked quickly; their tenderness comes from a lack of tough fibers and connective tissue found in the muscles that are more worked. Applying a light spice rub on a steak is ideal, and right before cooking, so that you have contrasting tastes of the crust and delicate interior. The combination of cacao, peppers, and salt go especially well with steak.


Serves two

2 steaks (rib eye, sirloin, strip, etc)
2 tsp cacao powder
2 tsp kosher salt, divided
1 tsp each paprika and chili powder
1/2 tsp black pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (optional)
1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil

This recipe is a real collaborative effort. The steaks for this recipe were dontated by Tosca Farm Grass-Fed Beef, who have been pasture-raising cows in central Texas since the 1980s. They were excellent. The cocoa powder was donated by Tisano, who sells high-quality cacao products, including some really delicious tea made from 100% organic cacao bean shell. Tisano is currently offering my readers a 20% discount at their online store using code “DOMESTICMAN20%OFF” – the code expires on October 30th, so be sure to check them out soon! Okay, let’s move on to the recipe.

Pat the steaks dry then let them rest for 10-15 minutes to come to room temperature. While they rest, combine the seasonings together (only combine 1 tsp of the kosher salt, set the other 1 tsp aside). Add the cayenne pepper if you want a little extra kick.

Rub the steaks evenly with the cacao mixture, then sprinkle a light salt crust over them using the remaining 1 tsp kosher salt. Set them aside as you prepare your skillet.

Warm a cast iron skillet on med/high heat until hot, about three minutes, then add the coconut oil. Heat the oil until it’s shimmering, about 20-30 seconds, then add the steaks. If you have a lid or splatter screen, loosely cover the skillet to avoid splattering. Brown on one side for three minutes, then flip the steaks and cook them to your liking.

Personally, I use my finger to check for doneness; the firmer the steak the more cooked it is. About three more minutes will get you a medium-rare steak, so you can adjust the cooking time from there to get the steaks as you like. Bear in mind that the thickness of your steak will determine its cooking time as well.

If you’re an internal-temperature kind of person, here’s a quick guide. Bear in mind that USDA recommendations are much higher, and there is a bit of contention about the correct temperatures. There’s also a new method of cooking steak that was first termed in the 1979s, and has gained ground in the past 20 years – “Black and Blue” steak (seared on the outside, cold on the inside).

~125F = Rare
~130F = Medium Rare
~135F = Medium
~150F = Medium Well
~160F = Well Done

Plate the steaks and then cover the plate with some tin foil and let them rest for five minutes before serving. Mix any accumulated juices with some barbecue sauce and go to town.

23 Responses to “Cacao-Rubbed Steak”

  1. rey & lyn October 29, 2013 at 1:01 pm #

    Very nice recipe! I think sea salt would also give this a very good flavor!

  2. Andrew Cordova October 29, 2013 at 6:20 pm #

    I am going to try this it kinda reminds me of a simple mole rub or something Mexicanish.

  3. vanbraman October 30, 2013 at 2:06 am #

    Looks really good. I agree that it seems to have a Mexican feel to it.

  4. Matthew W October 30, 2013 at 8:23 pm #

    ~125F = Rare
    ~130F = Medium Rare
    ~135F = Medium
    ~150F = Medium Well
    ~160F = Well Done
    ================================================
    There are only two ways to cook a steak:
    Rare (correct)
    and every thing else (incorrect)

    • Russ Crandall October 30, 2013 at 8:26 pm #

      Ha! I’m a Medium/Medium-Rare kind of guy myself.

      • Matthew W October 30, 2013 at 8:35 pm #

        Medium rare is acceptable because it’s “That close” to having been rare !!

  5. Malita October 31, 2013 at 12:04 am #

    Not sure of you’ve ever tried flap meat, sounds hideous but it’s tender and delicious and wayyyyyy more affordable, the butcher at whole foods turned me on to it

  6. Leila October 31, 2013 at 2:02 am #

    I love almost everything cacao.I think I will try dry-aging this before cooking. Yum. I work in our family food formulating business which has a heavy emphasis on chocolate, sugar-free, gluten-free, foods that remain amazingly tasty. I will pass this idea on to the family. Thanks. http://artfulcheesewiz.blogspot.com/

    • Leila October 31, 2013 at 2:03 am #

      P.S. I think I’d add chipotle!

  7. ourwholelifestyle November 4, 2013 at 11:15 am #

    Reblogged this on ourwholelifeblog.

  8. imarunner2012 November 4, 2013 at 11:41 am #

    Looks great. I keep my grill going all winter. I just re-filled my two tanks of propane. I hate running out half way through cooking.

  9. Twinkle November 5, 2013 at 9:43 pm #

    Thanks for the link to Tosca Farms. Always like to “meat” new Texas-based grass-fed ranchers!

  10. Alex November 9, 2013 at 7:23 pm #

    Those steaks look amazing, they are making me drool!

  11. cucchiano November 11, 2013 at 4:45 pm #

    This looks lovely! Definitely will be trying this when I find a steak to do it justice : )

  12. toracullip November 22, 2013 at 12:31 am #

    I love beeeef and this kind of recipe makes me love it even more! So healthy!

  13. Donna November 22, 2013 at 12:36 am #

    Oh. How does it taste? Can someone deliver me a Cacao-rubbed Steak for free??? :) I’m so eager to taste this one! Healthy and delicious! :)

  14. Tyler November 26, 2013 at 5:26 pm #

    My hopes were depleted for simple and tasty paleo recipes until I visited your blog. This recipe was excellent, and I especially liked the roasted garlic mashed potatoes that accompanied it. You have a way of re-imagining the ordinary with a simple twist. I’ve tried 8 of your recipes so far, and have yet to be disappointed. Keep it up! b(^^b)

  15. bfbaker January 5, 2014 at 11:45 am #

    This sounds gorgeous – I’d never thought of using cacao in a rub for steak. It sounds almost mesoamerican and I can’t wait to try it!

  16. Aimee & Clint January 5, 2014 at 8:52 pm #

    Wow, awesome, cacao on steak! Love this idea! Definitely sharing this recipe on our Fb pages, and keeping it to try ourselves. Thanks!

  17. bragnbutter January 7, 2014 at 2:04 pm #

    Looks really delicious. I did a cocoa-rubbed pork belly lately, will definitely try your version w/ beef. Congrats on the anniversary!

  18. Deb February 13, 2014 at 1:25 pm #

    Steaks look amazing delicious! Great photos. A recipe that I will be trying…Bookmarked

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  1. Three Years Paleo – Nine Lessons Learned and Tips for Sustained Eating | The Domestic Man - January 4, 2014

    […] Cacao-Rubbed Steak […]

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