What I really enjoy about this recipe is that it looks super fancy, but it’s really not. If you already know how to cook a steak in a frying pan, you’re honestly like most of the way there! But the bitterness of the cocoa, the smokiness of the cumin – they all play so well with the … well, the beefiness of the steak. It’s balanced, but also a riot of big bold flavors all up in your face. It’s maybe not an everyday sort of food, but I do like a nice steak as an occasional indulgence. I adapted this recipe from the website Dessert for Two. Okay, here we go!

The Goods:

Your steak of choice – for this version, I used some lovely strip sirloin.

Unsweetened Cocoa Powder (you want the baking kind, not the hot chocolate drink kind) – 2 ish Tablespoons

1 ish teaspoon granulated sugar

1ish tablespoon paprika

a few pinches of cumin for that lovely smoky flavor

a couple pinches of granulated garlic

kosher salt & ground black pepper, to taste

Oil (as much as I love olive oil, I opted for the more neutral-flavored vegetable oil here) and/or butter (the recipe called for bacon grease, which is delightful! But my dinner companion for this eats halal, so no bacon for us)

The Method:

  • If you haven’t already, get your steaks on the counter to get them closer to room temp before you cook.
  • Mix the dry rub ingredients together (that’s basically everything on the list other than the fat and the meat)
  • Pat your steaks dry, then rub in a light coating of oil and coat with your dry rub. I generally sprinkle it over every surface and then really pat it in with my hands.
  • Let that sit while you get your (preferably cast-iron pan) hot over medium-ish heat.
  • (By the way, if you have extra dry rub, it’s pretty amazing sprinkled on asparagus and potatoes, I’m just saying)
  • Once your pan is hot, drop in a blob of butter and some oil (butter for the flavor, oil for its higher smoke point) and let that all melt together.
  • When your fat is just barely shimmery, lay in your steaks. You want to leave them long enough to get a nice sear on each side.
  • ** Your cooking time will depend on the cut and thickness of your steak, so use your best judgement, and turn/flip them as often as you need to cook them evenly.
  • Once your steaks are done to your desired level (for me, that’s medium-rare, so about 140 degrees.) remove them to a plate, cover them with a foil tent, and rest them for 10 minutes.
  • ** Okay, medium rare is actually 145, but remember that carryover cooking will bring your steak to that temperature by the time it’s done resting.
  • What to do while you’re waiting? You’ll have a pan full of lovely flavor bits still stuck on – why not deglaze that with some wine or broth and build a quick pan sauce? Or if you’ve been multitasking, here would be where you finish up your side dishes and get your plate ready. Or just pour yourself a glass of something and relax for a few.
  • Once your meat is rested, slice and plate up, and enjoy!