mole negro skirt steak with charred onions

Cocoa-Rubbed Mole Negro Skirt Steak

When combined with incredible aromatic spices this cocoa-rubbed steak results in a big, bold beef experience. Try this Mole Negro Skirt Steak recipe.


Skirt steak is way, way underrated. It’s cheap, tasty and built for the grill. It makes excellent fajitas and lends itself to a host of Tex Mex flavors. Perhaps it’s all those wonderful nooks and crannies or the pronounced grain that gives ingredients something to really cling to?

Most famous in the Mexican states of Puebla and Oaxaca, Mole is a curious dish indeed. Much like the the origin of Nachos (which also involved leftovers and clergy), it’s said to have first been created out of whatever was left in the pantry at the Convent of Santa Rosa to feed a visiting Archbishop. But the biggest claim to fame of this thick, rich sauce is having chocolate as a primary ingredient.

These days there’s a huge range of moles (which has kind of become a generic name for any complex sauce) like red, green, yellow, black (Negro), pipian and others. While all moles will have a combination of dried chilis as the base, there’s a diverse range of ingredients that comprise the rest. Anything goes: nuts, sesame seeds, cloves, tomatillos, cilantro, plantains, raisins, cinnamon; and with this variety no two moles will ever be alike.

While a wet sauce wasn’t the best idea to throw on the grill, a dry rub was. In it’s unsweetened form, cocoa has complex earthy tones, so if Ancho & Coffee can work in a rub, this should too! Pairing it with the right aromatics (and with just a little bit of sugar to make sure it’s not too bitter) will give you thickly crusted steak that brings the flavor punch.

Recipe after the pics:

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mole negro skirt steak with charred onions

Recipe: Cocoa-Rubbed Mole Negro Skirt Steak

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  • Author: Jess Pryles


  • 1 x skirt steak (approx. 1 lb)
  • 4 tsp salt, divided
  • 2 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 tbsp dutch process dark cocoa powder
  • 1/2 tsp chipotle powder
  • 1 tsp guajillo chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp ancho chili powder
  • 1 tsp garlic powder
  • 1 tsp clove powder
  • 2 tsp crushed coriander seed (see note 1)
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1/2 tsp pepper


  1. Prepare your grill for a high heat cook, and remove steak from fridge.
  2. For best results, pat steak dry, and sprinkle with half the salt (2 tsp) on both sides. Allow to sit for an hour. If you don’t have time to wait, salt immediately before applying the rub.
  3. In a bowl, combine chili powders, remaining salt, pepper, garlic, cocoa, clove, coriander, and brown sugar. This dry mix will keep for a month in an airtight container.
  4. Drizzle olive oil on both sides of the steak, and apply mole rub liberally, pressing and rubbing to ensure a good adhesion – the more the better.
  5. Place steak on the very hot grill, flipping every 60-90 seconds to avoid burning the sugar. Cook to an internal temperature of 130-135f (Medium Rare). Once the steak hits temp, remove from heat and wrap in foil to rest.
  6. Rest the steak for 10 minutes then cut against the grain into strips to serve.


Note 1: Although you can buy coriander powder, I recommend you buy whole seeds and crush them in a mortar and pestle (or a baggie with a meat tenderizer!). They’ll give a chunkier texture and fresher taste.


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