Cast Iron

Cowboy Rubbed Rib Eye with Chocolate Stout Pan Sauce

December  1, 2009
Photo by James Ransom
Author Notes

I started making this rub after reading about cowboy food, they carried with them coffee, salt, pepper and sugar...and they grilled their steaks in cast iron pans...since I do not often find myself on the open range I have to make due with either my grill or during wet yucky weather, my oven. I've added a couple of spices and few non cowboy type extras.. though I'm pretty sure if the cowboys had chocolate stout they would've enjoyed it too. ... on the rare occasions when I have been forced to camp outdoors I've brought pre rubbed steaks with me to get a taste of the old west... If you have no chocolate stout available any dark beer will do, you can also sub red wine, but it will be very different. I like to use a pre heated cast iron pan because in conducts the heat well...and you don't have to turn the meat over —Aliwaks

Test Kitchen Notes

Ground coffee, smoked paprika, cumin, ancho chile and brown sugar form an earthy, flinty rub that smells appealingly of wood smoke. Aliwaks borrows a smart technique from Indian cooking and has you toast the spices over low heat before rubbing them on the steak. Then it's just a matter of searing it in a very hot iron pan and finishing the sauce with some chocolate brown stout, beef stock and a lump of butter. We recommend some corn pudding on the side. - A&M —The Editors

  • Serves 2
  • 1 nice, thick rib eye, 1 to 1 1/2 inches thick, big enough for two
  • 1 tablespoon ground coffee
  • 2 tablespoons kosher salt (we used Diamond Crystal -- you may want to reduce the salt to taste, especially if using Morton's Kosher or other finer salt, see comments)
  • 2 teaspoons dark brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 1 tablespoon coarse ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon hot red pepper flakes (preferably Ancho chile)
  • 1 cup chocolate stout (you'll have to drink the rest)
  • 1/2 cup beef stock
  • 1 tablespoon unsalted butter
  • 1 sprig thyme
  • 1 tablespoon vegetable oil (if you are the type to save bacon fat, by all means use it!)
In This Recipe
  1. Mix the coffee, salt, paprika, peppers, and cumin together and toast lightly in pan until fragrant (alternatively you can toast whole spices then grind). Mix the spices with the sugar to make the rub.
  2. Spread the rub all over the steak and let sit for awhile, if you do it the night before you'll have stronger flavor but if you do it right before serving it'll be good, too. (If you pre-rub and set it in the fridge, be sure to bring it up to room temperature before searing, so you do not shock the meat.)
  3. Heat a cast iron pan until it's really really hot -- a drop of water flicked into the pan should sizzle and bounce. Add vegetable oil, wait a few seconds until the oil heats up, then place the steak in the pan. It should sizzle; leave it there, do not touch it at all for 3-4 minutes. It should be browning on the bottom. Then place it under a hot broiler and broil to medium rare or desired doneness.
  4. Remove the steak and let rest on a warm plate, cover with aluminum foil.
  5. Add the thyme sprig to the pan and let it saute a bit till it gets nice and fragrant. Pour in the chocolate stout and deglaze the pan. Add the beef broth, whisk together and reduce by half over medium heat.
  6. Remove the thyme sprig and whisk in the butter. Season to taste.
  7. Slice the steak on the bias and drizzle the sauce over top. This is yummy with creamed spinach and hash browns or a baked potato and a nice big salad.

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