Coffee and Chili Powder Give a Barbecued Steak Recipe Big Flavor
Rubs, the term for seasoning mixtures applied to foods a short while before they go on the grill, are a great, quick way to add flavor to main courses cooked outdoors. When it comes to grilling steak, one of the all-time favorite choices for a backyard barbecue, a rub is an ideal seasoning, because there’s no need to marinate the beef in advance, plan ahead, or do much fussing at all.
The rich-tasting rub in this grilled steak recipe is inspired by “redeye gravy,” a favorite old cowboy chuck wagon preparation made by using black coffee to deglaze the pan in which ham steaks had cooked. The black coffee in this particular rub doesn’t really give the beef any discernible coffee taste—just a distinctive richness that enhances the flavors of good beef and mild chili powder. (If you plan ahead to make this recipe, refrigerate a splash of coffee from your morning brew to use in the rub.)
Speaking of the beef, any good steak will work well with this recipe. It’s especially good with rib-eye steak, T-bone steak, or New York steak. Flank steak works well with it, too.
Cowboy-Style Grilled Steak Recipe
- 4 rib-eye, T-bone, or New York steaks, 10 to 12 ounces each
- 2 tablespoons mild to medium-hot pure chili powder
- 1 tablespoon onion salt
- 2 teaspoons ground cumin
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 2 tablespoons brewed strong black coffee
- 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted
- Preheat the grill. Meanwhile, trim excess fat from the steaks and set them aside at room temperature.
- While the grill is heating, make the rub. In a small bowl, stir together the chili powder, onion salt, cumin, sugar, and black pepper. Add the coffee and butter and stir with a fork to form a smooth paste.
- Rub the paste into both sides of each steak, lightly massaging it into the meat with your fingertips. Leave the steaks at room temperature.
- When the fire is hot, carefully oil the grill rack. Place the steaks on the rack and cook, turning once, until done to your liking, 16 to 20 minutes total for medium-rare.
- Try the same rub on pork chops.
- For spicier results, use hot pure chili powder in place of the mild or medium-hot chili powder.
- In a pinch, if you don’t have brewed coffee available, substitute 2 teaspoons of instant coffee crystals or granules.
Serve the steaks with baked potatoes or French fries, if you like. They’ll be so juicy and flavorful, there’s really no need for a sauce.