Chocolate steak? Really? I know you can cook but this sounds too strange to be any good. And you’re wasting a wonderful Ribeye Steak, too. I’ll try it but… Those were all the swirling thoughts running around in my son Matt’s head as we were discussing the night’s dinner. Matt (like all of the other children) knows I try a lot of different things and eat a lot of different things, some of which he really doesn’t like, i.e. Sea Urchin. He also knows he likes some of the offbeat things we feed him, i.e. Tofu.
This all came about because of a challenge he had given Baby Lady and me. You see, Matt lives in Amarillo and had told his friends Baby Lady and I could really cook. He was coming to DFW with some of his friends and wanted an Iron Chef competition between Baby Lady and me. He was going to provide us with the secret ingredient and we were going to fix a 3 course meal using the secret ingredient as the prime ingredient in all of the courses. He and his friends were to be the judges. (Not a bad gig if you can get it, huh?) Even though we have an above average size kitchen, it’s simply not big enough for a 1 hour competition with Baby Lady and I fighting for range and oven space. Also, someone would have to loose and one of us would have been sleeping on the couch. So, we politely declined. Instead, we told him he could select the ingredient, tell us beforehand what it was so we could go to the grocery store to stock the kitchen and we would fix his friends and him a multi-course meal using his selected ingredient as the main ingredient for the night’s dinner. He agreed.
After a while Matt called back to tell us the secret ingredient, Chocolate. Chocolate for dessert is easy. Chocolate as a main course was a little more difficult. At first, we thought about a wonderful mole dish. Baby Lady is a fabulous cook, we both like mole and almost everyone likes Mexican Food. But that seemed somewhat mundane, not very challenging or exciting (at least not in Texas). As we pondered the situation we thought about all the coffee rubbed steaks that were the rage at the time. If they can do a coffee rubbed steak then a chocolate rubbed steak seemed different and intriguing.
This recipe is what we came up with. It has a wonderful flavor and the chocolate is there. It’s not overly prominent as you taste it in the background. Nevertheless, the flavor is definitely present and pleasantly surprising. It was the hit of the night. We have also served this to friends who like it as well. Even if you’re not adventurous you should try this sometime. Matt and his friends ate it, liked it and one of his friends even took back the leftover rub to try for himself.
- 2-4 generously-sized ribeye steaks, at least 1 inch thick
For the Rub
- 4 tablespoons Cacao Nibs (preferably Scharffen Berger)
- 2 teaspoons crushed red pepper flakes
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon ground yellow mustard
- 1 tablespoon chipotle chili powder
- 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice
- 4 tablespoons dark brown sugar, packed
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
Combine all ingredients except the steaks in the bowl of a food processor, spice grinder, or mortar and pestle. Grind or process until the nibs break into particles the size of large grains of sand. The rub can be stored in a tightly covered jar for up to 1 month.
Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.
Rinse and pat the steaks dry with paper towels. Generously coat each with the rub on both sides and wrap in foil or plastic wrap. Put them in the fridge for at least 2 hours. The steaks can sit overnight in the refrigerator. When ready to cook, remove the steaks from the refrigerator and bring to room temperature. If you let them sit overnight, apply a little more of the chocolate rub to the steaks to coat.
Although you can cook this on the gas grill, I prefer it on a cast iron skillet as it keeps the flavors better. Gas grilling chars a lot of the rub due to the sugar and you lose the flavors. The skillet, on the other hand, sears the meat and forms a crust. The following instructions are for pan grilling the steaks.
Heat 1-2 teaspoons of canola/vegetable oil in a large oven-proof skillet or frying pan over high heat. Sear the steaks for about 3 minutes on each side or until a nice crust forms. Finish cooking the steaks in the oven until they are done the way you like them.
Let the steaks rest 5 minutes before cutting to seal in the juices.
Serve and enjoy!