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Coffee + Steak = COFFEESTEAK

These are a few of my favorite things...
No, I'm NOT just listing two of my favorite things. With the inspiration of (inevitably) Everyday Food Magazine, I endeavored the other night to create an coffee, chile, brown sugar and cinnamon rub, which I used on a good-sized skirt steak before pan-frying.

Martha Stewart's EDF minions suggested a three-ish to one ancho-chile powder to instant espresso powder ration, but I decided to reverse that and reduce the brown sugar, while upping the cinnamon. There was eyeballing involved, but if I had to pretend I remember the recipe, the rub worked out to:

-4 tbsp. instant espresso powder
-2 tsp. ancho chili powder (next time I might experiment with chipotle)
-4 tbsp. granulated brown sugar
-1 tsp cinnamon
-1/2 tsp. black pepper

Mix all the ingredients well (whisk is good, or covering and shaking works too).

I brought the skirt steak to about room temperature so they'd cook evenly. I cut it in two, the better to fit in my 13" skillet, and massaged handfuls of the rub deeply into the beef (both sides). I would have used more of the mixture, but even using significantly less chile powder, I was concerned about the heat.

Now, I've recently taken to pan-frying steaks, since our grill is currently a no-go and I don't think my George Forman grill gets quite hot enough for the seared exterior, rare interior effect I like my steaks to have. I've yet to spring for a good grill pan or some such, so in-the-pan it is.

First, I preheated my oven to 225 degrees. I heated a little butter (enough to coat, but not pool in) the bottom of the pan and brought it to a strong medium-high. The steaks went in, about 2 minutes a side, until well-seared, then I popped the pan into the oven for about 5 minutes to finish cooking to rare. Were my steaks any thinner, I might have skipped this step entirely.

When I finished, I pulled the steaks to my cutting board, cover them loosely with tin foil, and let them sit. ALWAYS let meat sit for a few minutes. Why? I don't know. Some people say it's about letting the juices redistribute themselves evenly throughout; others claim it's about letting the meat fibers reabsorb juices. I don't care which one it is, but after I finish cooking a steak I tent it loosely with foil and let it rest for five minutes.

Verdict: I'd cooked the steak slightly longer than I intended so it reached more of a medium rare than rare, but the flavor was fantastic. Rich and spicy and hearty, slightly sweet and dark, the steaks tasted like the sensation of being in front of a woodfire on a cold day. Delicious, but also just kind of unexpected; I can't say as I've had beef with these flavors before.

Awwww yeah. Here she is:

I ate the steak with sweet corn (microwaving about 2 minutes is the simplest and easiest way to do it) and strawberries, the light sweetness of both cutting through the earthy complexity of the meat.

All around, this rub is a keeper. I might try it mixed into ground beef for burgers -- the surprise intensity would be a fun dish to serve at a barbecue or party. Try it yourself, and tweak the spices -- just use good, rich spices with great depth of flavor.

Reader Comments (1)

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June 27, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterryan

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