I love a good steak. Really. There’s just something about a perfectly cooked slab of beef. I never cooked much steak prior to meating my boyfriend (see what I did there?). Cooking dinner for him all of the time, though, got me very very familiar with the ways of cooking os a nice slab-of-beef. If nothing else, I got that bit of knowledge out of my relationship. Plus two awesome dogs and a CrossFit Kool-Aid drinking problem. I digress…

I generally don’t like to fuck with my steaks too much. Usually just salt and pepper and a hot pan is all I need. I can’t stand it when you go to a restaurant and there on the menu is some convoluted item where a steak has been ruined by smothering it in crab, or breadcrumbs, or blue cheese, or a salmon cake, or a christmas tree. Just leave the thing be in all of it’s meaty glory. You don’t go to a good steakhouse and see that crap on the menu. It’s always just a steak. A well cooked steak.


All of that being said, I recently expanded my steak horizons when I made the Cinnamon Steak Skewers from Make it Paleo. Cinnamon on steak is not something I ever would have tried, but I gotta tell ya it was friggin delicious. I had also bought, on a whim, a seasoning pack that had cacao in it, intended for red meat. I put it on a burger. Wonderful! So, I thought…why not combine the two? And so, the cacao cinnamon rub was born.

Flank steak is not a cut I buy often. We’re big fans of a good strip in this house. Every now and then though, I get to the butcher counter and there will be this beautifully deep rep, local, grass-fed flank steak just begging for me to take it home. Like any good carnivore, I oblige.

The trick with flank steaks is to marinate them with some sort of acid to get it tender, cook it quick and high to medium rare (anything else is just rude), and slice is width-wise into nice thin pretty strips. When you buy a whole slab (usually around 1.5 lbs), you’re also gifted with plenty of leftovers that are an easy addition to a quick salad, or steak and eggs, or just a snack on it’s own.

This recipe is for a flank steak, but that’s only because that’s what I put it on. You can use this rub on pretty much any cut of moo-cow.

Cacao Cinnamon Flank Steak

1 flank steak (1.5 lbs)
1 tsp salt
1 tsp cinnamon
1/2 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp cacao powder
1/4 tsp fine ground espresso
1/4 tsp chipotle powder
1 tbsp white wine vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil


  1. Pat the flank steak dry with a paper towel.  This is an IMPORTANT step. You don’t want ANY moisture between the flesh of the steak and the rub. You really want this stuff to get in there.
  2. Mix all other ingredients in a bowl to create a paste.
  3. Rub the marinade all over the steak, place in a airtight container or zip lock bag ad allow to marinate anywhere from 20 min to 3 hours.  If you’re only marinating for 20 min, leave it out on the counter. We don’t want it getting cold again.
  4. Take the steak out of the fridge at least 20 minutes before you’re ready to cook it to let it come to room temp. This is another important steak-cooking step. If you throw it right on the heat straight out of the fridge, you’re going to end up with a well done ring around and ice cold center. Not good. Letting it ‘come to temp’ gives you an even temp all the way through and a gradual pinking towards the center.
  5. Heat a grill pan o a large skillet on high, and add a cooking fat of your choice. Once the pan is nice and hot, sear the steak on each side: 4-5 minutes each side for medium-rare, 6 for medium, 8 for medium/well.  I will say though, that I do not believe steak-cooking to be an exact science. You kind of have to get a feel for it. Practice makes perfect here. 
  6. Put the steak aside on a plate and tent it with foil. Allow it to rest for at least 7 minutes (10-15 is great) before serving. Tenting and allowing to rest is yet another very very very very important step when cooking up a great steak. When it first comes off of the heat, it’s all tense. The meat needs to relax, and the juices need to redistribute themselves. Have you ever cut into a steak right off of the stove and seen the juice go all over the place? This is what we want to avoid. We want all of that goodness to stay inside the steak, not on the plate. Tenting and resting is how we do this.