Okay, Let's Tackle That Intimidating Tomahawk Steak

by Kyle Cox 2 years ago in recipe

It's not as hard as you think.

Okay, Let's Tackle That Intimidating Tomahawk Steak

There is not a better mix of obnoxiously refined and delicately gaudy than the Tomahawk steak or "cowboy ribeye". It's simply a thick-cut bone-on ribeye of the bovine persuasion. But it earns its violent moniker from the Frenched full rib bone left in-tact that resembles a primitive kill weapon.

A big cut like this can be intimidating but there are three steps that will make all the difference in the world -- and they are the most important steps to any meal. 1) Temperature control. 2) Planning. 3) Rest.

The subject of this post looked more like a meat cleaver than a ribeye, which is probably why my wife picked it for our Friday dinner. Size.

Five years ago, this cut may only have been available if you were on a first-name basis with your local butcher, but now it is offered at many a package store.

I had never cooked one but my wife's budding confidence in me is both unmatched and adorable. So here's my first attempt at the meat utensil/entrée. Glad to have you along for the ride.

I started with this, the 2.88-pound specimen that is as big as my favorite dog. It was an impromptu endeavor -- she announced her plans for dinner around 11:00 a.m. -- so I decided to dry-brine the steak with this in-house engineered pan shown below.

A primitive tray for dry-brining or dry-aging meat.

The important thing featured is the ability to allow air circulation around the entire surface area of the meat. I used these bamboo skewers to make a drying rack that is disposable/recyclable, but a sheet pan with a drying rack will work if you have the fridge space.

The salt pulls moisture from the surface which allows for that delicious browning we all crave. It also facilitates moisture retention in the meat. For a full explanation I recommend diving head-first into this study of dry brining with AmazingRibs.com.

Regardless of how you prepare your protein for its dance with the Devil, one step is crucial -- rest. Any steak or chop I introduce to flame gets at least 15 minutes on the counter. With a big cut like this, 30 minutes will do the trick.

I fired up my charcoal smoker for the first stage of our reverse sear of this handled rib roast. Once the cooker was cruising at 250 degrees F with my smoking wood, I added the hunk o' beef and inserted a probe so that I could monitor its progress. I use a two-probe thermometer -- one for ambient temperature inside the cooker and one for the internal temperature of the featured meat.

On the smoker to start the reverse sear.

It took about an hour and a half for the middle of my steak to reach 115 degrees. Once it hit triple digits, I had a sear station roaring and ready.

Okay, I love my Weber kettle grill. But this meat already has all the smoky flavor it needs and my purveyor of propane equipped with GrillGates is as effective as can be in terms of browning meat.

Once I had reached the desired browning on this delectable slab, I took the opportunity to add a couple of nobs of herb compound butter. Hey, we're going big here, not home.

And now for one of the most important steps of grilling... Rest.

Now, put it down. Nope.


Here's my rule of thumb on rest. I put my charbroiled entrée on the counter with a loose foil tent until I think it's sat for too long -- then I walk away.

Walk. A. Way.

Okay, you're back. You did good, and now your will power will be rewarded. Here's our finished product and I can tell you that it was as good as it looks.

There's nothing like meat that comes with a handle. I hope you'll give this protein axe a try. Because any cut of meat -- even one this medieval-looking -- can be great grillin' with a little planning, an eye for the details and, of course, some rest.

How does it work?
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Kyle Cox

Blogger who has a ton of interests including but not limited to grilling, smoking (and cooking in general), travel, history, music, movies. 

See all posts by Kyle Cox