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.
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.