Ancho-Spiced Steaks with Cuban Espresso Sauce

Dsc01012 All of the recipes that are posted on this site are ones that I think are delicious enough to be worth recommending.  The resulting product needs to more then compensate for the time and effort that it takes to prepare the dish.   Even so, I know that you are likely not going to run over to the kitchen and whip up every single recipe that I provide (every other recipe perhaps??) after you have finished reading it, and that not all recipes appeal to all people. 

That being said, you must try this recipe.  I don’t mean that you need to change all of your plans and make it tonight.  Bookmark it, print it out and stick it on the refrigerator, or write down a reminder if necessary; whatever you do, the next time that you plan to serve steaks, this is what you should make.

My husband, Eric, and I had this for dinner last night, and I can always tell when I have cooked up a winning recipe.  Usually, when my dishes are in the "good" to "excellent" range, Eric describes them as being "pretty good,"  which isn’t really the detailed critique that I hope for.  If the recipe is truly outstanding, he’ll say something more like "Wow! This is great!", and he’ll say it three or four times throughout the meal.  I think he said it five times last night, and he didn’t share any of his steak with the dog either–two very big thumbs-up in our household!  I knew that I liked this dish, but it always helps to get confirmation.

Although the spice rub on the steaks is full of flavor, what really makes this dish stand out is the sauce.  If you just take a look at its list of ingredients, such as espresso powder, cloves, honey, and ancho chile powder, you can get an idea of how deeply rich and complex tasting it is.  This Cuban-inspired sauce is unlike any other steak sauce that I have ever made, and I think that I could have just mopped it up with a piece of bread and called it a meal.  Next time, I will definitely double the sauce recipe, although it takes very little time to put together if I want to make it again……..tonight.  Here are just a few tips for these flavorful steaks:

  • The beef can marinate in the spice rub for up to one day, chilled and covered.
  • The sauce can be prepared up to two days in advance and cooled to room temperature and then chilled, covered.
  • You can substitute regular chile powder for ancho-chile powder, instant coffee granules for espresso powder, and rib eye steaks or strip steaks for the tenderloin (roasting time may need to be adjusted).  The spice rub and sauce would also go well with a pork loin or tenderloin.
  • If you prefer your food to be a little less spicy, then I would recommend decreasing the amount of cayenne pepper by half for both the spice rub and the sauce.

Ancho-Spiced Steaks with Cuban Espresso Sauce

Serves 6


6 (1 1/2 inch thick) beef tenderloin steaks, 8 oz. each

Spice Rub

2 tablespoons ancho chile powder

2 teaspoons paprika

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1 teaspoon salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper


2 1/2 cups beef stock

1/2 onion, finely chopped

1/4 cup honey

1/4 cup brown sugar

1 tablespoon ancho chile powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

1 1/2 teaspoons espresso powder 

2 teaspoons Worcestershire sauce

1/2 teaspoon cayenne

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons butter, cut into tablespoons

Pat the steaks dry.  Stir together the spices, sea salt, and pepper and rub the mixture over the tops and bottoms of the steaks.  Cover with plastic wrap and chill for at least 3 hours.

Make the sauce:  In a heavy medium saucepan, combine the beef stock, onion, honey, brown sugar, chile powder, cloves, espresso powder, Worcestershire, cayenne, and sea salt.  Simmer briskly, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is reduced to 1 cup, about 30 minutes.  Whisk in the butter until incorporated, season with salt and pepper, and keep warm, covered, off heat.

Preheat the oven to 400F degrees and place the rack in the middle.  Heat a grill pan over medium heat and spray with nonstick cooking spray.  Grill steaks, turning once, until grill marks form, about 10 minutes.  Transfer the steaks to a shallow, foil-lined baking pan and roast in the oven for 10 minutes (medium-rare) or until they reach desired degree of doneness.  Remove the steaks from the oven and let stand, loosely covered with foil, 5 minutes.  Transfer steaks to plates, top with the sauce, and serve the remaining sauce on the side.   


  1. Sioda says

    Thanks for posting – my son had this at Havana Blue in St. Thomas and I’ve been trying to find the recipe!

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