A tomahawk steak or cowboy steak, is a “Flintstonian”, thick cut of ribeye with a 6-8-inch bone handle. Can’t you see Fred Flintstone gnawing on something like this? Cartoon reference aside, the tomahawk is an impressive cut to serve to guests and has become very popular in steakhouses.
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This steak is a particularly tender and soft cut, coming from the larger rib region where the muscles are typically underused. And with an average weight between 25 and 45 ounces, it will easily feed 4 people.
Because it is so thick-usually 2 or so inches, you are going to want to change your cooking method for this behemoth. The traditional searing and finishing over indirect heat or in the oven will result in either a cold, raw center or a tough, overcooked, albeit warm center, chunk of something resembling shoe leather. And really, that would be shameful.
The best way to tackle this monster is by utilizing a reverse sear method, which is starting the cooking process on low, indirect heat and finishing it with a sear over high heat. This allows the steak to cook evenly without becoming dry. The sear at the end provides that gorgeous crust and color.
TIPS FOR A PERFECT STEAK
- Start with a great cut of meat. Prime is the best. I like grass-fed. It is a bit leaner and tastes better, I think. Go to a reputable butcher or grocer or order online. Look for a well-marbled piece. The fat or marbling should be white, not yellow or brown. The flesh should be very pink or cherry red and look moist, but not wet and certainly not dry.
- Always allow the meat to come to room temperature before cooking. For this ultimate tomahawk steak, it should rest at room outside of the refrigerator for at least an hour. Cooking cold meat makes it harder for the heat to reach the center, thus uneven cooking.
- Season, season, season. This is a BIG hunk of meat. Don’t be shy with the coarse kosher salt, but leave the black pepper until later. Pepper can burn at higher temperatures and cause a bitter aftertaste. Never a good thing. Why chance it?
- Treat yourself to a digital thermometer. They are cheap and they are a game changer.
- Rest the meat after cooking. This will allow those hot juices that pooled in the center to redistribute out to the sides so every bite of your steak is juicy. Plus the meat fibers will rest and relax so every bite is equally tender. No, your steak will NOT get cold. Trust me on this.
THE ULTIMATE TOMAHAWK STEAK – 2 ways
The perfect, succulent, impressive tomahawk steak. Try making it on the grill or in your kitchen.
- 1 head fresh garlic
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 1 tomahawk ribeye steak (about 2” thick and 1.5 – 2 pounds)
- Coarse Kosher salt
- 4 tablespoons of clarified butter (ghee)
- 4 large sprigs of fresh thyme
- 8 cloves of the roasted garlic you prepared earlier
- 2 tablespoons butter, softened
- Coarsely ground fresh black pepper
- First roast the garlic. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Trim off the top ¼-inch from the garlic bulb. Loosely wrap in foil and drizzle with olive oil. Bake in the oven for 30-40 minutes until the cloves are very soft and browned. Allow to cool and then squeeze the cloves out of the bulb. They should pop out easily. Set aside.
- Remove your steak from the refrigerator and allow to come to room temperature for at least 1 hour.
- Pat the steak dry with a paper towel.
- Season the meat very generously with salt. Be sure to coat both the top and bottom and all around the sides. This is a thick cut and needs a lot of salt. Set aside.
- This step is optional, but makes for a prettier final presentation. Moisten a paper towel and wrap it around the bone ‘handle’ of the steak. Then wrap a piece of aluminum foil around the paper towel. This will keep the bone from getting too charred during the cooking process.
- Preheat the oven to 225 degrees.
- Lay a cooling rack over a large baking sheet covered in foil. Lightly oil the cooking rack and place the steak flat in the center of the rack. Bake the steak in the preheated oven until the internal temperature reaches 120-125 degrees – about 45 minutes. Remove the steak from the oven and set aside.
- In a large skillet, preferably cast iron, heat the clarified butter, fresh thyme and 8 cloves of roasted garlic over medium-high heat until very hot. Stir the thyme and garlic around the pan to flavor the butter.
- Place the steak in the hot skillet and allow to sear for 1 minute. Flip and sear the other side for an additional minute. Repeat this process of flipping and searing until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees for medium-rare. Remove pan from the heat.
- Add 2 tablespoons of butter to the pan and allow to melt along one side. Once melted, spoon the melted butter and garlic over the steak. Season with black pepper and turn. Baste the other side of the steak and season with black pepper.
- Remove the steak from the skillet. Pour the remaining butter, garlic, and thyme over the meat. Tent with foil and allow to rest for 10 minutes.
- Remove the foil and the paper towel from the bone. Slice the meat and serve next to the bone, with the sprigs of thyme and garlic cloves on top.
TO PREPARE ON A GRILL-gas or charcoal
Set up a two-zone temperature by turning the gas burners on high on one side of the grill and leaving the other side OFF. For charcoal, one the briquettes are hot, push all the coals to one side of your grill.
Cook your seasoned steak on the side without heat and allow to cook until the temperature is around 110-115 degrees.
Meanwhile in a small pot, melt the ghee, butter, thyme and roasted garlic together. You will use this to baste your steak.
Move the steak to the hot side of your grill directly over the flame. Turn every minute to get the nice crust to form, basting each side at every turn. Keep turning and basting until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees.
Remove from the heat, tent and pour remaining butter, garlic, and thyme over the steak. Allow to rest for 10 minutes before slicing.
- Serving Size: Serves 4
Once you plate up your ultimate tomahawk steak, you want to enjoy it with a great wine. Here are a few suggestions:
- A bold Cabernet Sauvignon. The tannins in this wine will cut through the fatty richness of the steak actually making the wine softer and more fruity.
- A Bordeaux, which is a blend of a Cabernet and a Merlot, has a tannic, spicy and herby quality that pairs well with the herb and butter topping of the steak.
- A Malbec with its velvety tannins and floral characteristics will enhance the beefy flavors of the meat and also the mouthfeel of the steak. If you are a ‘texture’ person, you’ll understand that.
LOOKING FOR A GREAT SIDE DISH FOR YOUR ULTIMATE TOMAHAWK STEAK?
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