Cocoa-Spiced Steaks with Red Wine–Chocolate Sauce

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These special occasion-worthy steaks start with a cocoa powder spice rub and finish with a luxurious red wine pan sauce.

Cocoa-Spiced Steaks with Red Wine-Chocolate Sauce
Photo:

Christopher Testani / Food Styling by Margaret Monroe Dickey / Prop Styling by Christine Keely

Active Time:
25 mins
Total Time:
35 mins
Servings:
2 to 4 servings

Seasoned with a cocoa rub, finished with a butter-cocoa mixture, and drizzled with red wine sauce, these pan-seared steaks are an easy upgrade to dinner for two at home. When combined with sweet paprika, allspice, and cayenne pepper, the cocoa powder offers a delicious, rounding earthiness in the spice rub. You won’t taste chocolate outright, but rather a depth of savory flavor that heightens the meatiness of the steak. Ensure the pan is heated over high and oil is rippling to get a perfect sear and crust on the steaks.

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened cocoa powder (such as Guittard Cocoa Rouge Unsweetened Dutch-Process Cocoa Powder)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons granulated sugar

  • 1 teaspoon sweet paprika

  • 1/2 teaspoon ground allspice

  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chipotle chile powder 

  • 2 (1-pound) boneless rib eye steaks or strip steaks (about 1 inch thick)

  • 1/4 cup unsalted butter, softened

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil or other neutral cooking oil

  • 1/4 cup chopped shallot (from 1 [2-ounce] shallot) 

  • 1 teaspoon all-purpose flour

  • 1/2 cup (4 ounces) dry red wine

  • 1 cup lower-sodium beef or chicken broth

  • 1/2 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro or flat-leaf parsley (optional)

Directions

  1. Stir together cocoa powder, salt, sugar, paprika, allspice, and cayenne in a small bowl. Set aside.

  2. Pat steaks dry with paper towels. Rub 1 tablespoon cocoa mixture all over steaks. Place steaks on a plate, and let stand, uncovered, at room temperature 15 minutes. Meanwhile, stir together butter and remaining cocoa mixture in a small bowl; divide evenly into 4 portions in 4 small bowls. Set aside.

  3. Heat oil in a large skillet over high until oil ripples and is almost smoking. Add steaks; cook, undisturbed, until browned in spots, 1 minute to 1 minute and 30 seconds. Using tongs, flip steaks. Cook until browned in spots on other side, 1 minute to 1 minute and 30 seconds. Using tongs, lift each steak, and press outside edges of steak into skillet, rolling steak until edges are browned, 15 to 30 seconds. Return steaks to lie flat in skillet. Reduce heat to medium; cook steaks, flipping often, until steaks are a rich dark brown in most areas, 1 to 2 minutes.

  4. Add 1 butter-cocoa portion to skillet; cook over medium, turning often to coat steaks in melted butter, until a thermometer inserted in thickest portion of steaks registers 125°F to 130°F for medium-rare or 135°F to 140°F for medium, 1 to 3 minutes. Transfer steaks to a plate; partially cover with an inverted bowl, domed lid, or aluminum foil, and let rest until ready to serve.

  5. Discard all but 1 tablespoon drippings in skillet. Reduce heat under skillet to medium-low, and stir shallot into reserved drippings; cook, whisking constantly, until shallot starts to turn translucent and no longer smells raw, about 1 minute. Add flour, whisking to evenly coat shallot. Whisk in wine, and bring to a boil over medium. Boil, undisturbed, until thickened, 1 to 2 minutes. Whisk in broth and any accumulated juices from steak plate. Increase heat to high, and bring mixture to a vigorous simmer. Simmer, whisking occasionally, until sauce reduces by almost half and lightly coats the back of a metal spoon, about 6 minutes. Remove skillet from heat; whisk in 2 butter-cocoa portions. Taste sauce; if desired, add cilantro or parsley.

  6. Arrange steaks on plate. Spoon sauce over steaks, and top evenly with remaining butter-cocoa portion.

To Make Ahead

Butter-cocoa mixture can be made up to 3 days in advance and stored in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Let butter soften to room temperature before using.

Suggested Pairing

Powerful, oak-inflected California red: Louis M. Martini Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon

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