Note: this post is done in collaboration with Omaha Steaks.
Tomahawk ribeye steaks have been gaining in popularity due to their visual appeal and size. You see them on social media and they make your eyes pop out and your jaw drop like on those old cartoons. It also helps that more butchers are carrying them now. But have you cooked a tomahawk ribeye steak before? Do you want some guidance? Then you’ve come to the right place.
THE DIFFERENCE OF A TOMAHAWK RIBEYE STEAK
At first glance, the tomahawk ribeye steak has a demanding presence due to its size. The thickness of the steak is roughly two inches and has a rib bone sticking out that makes the entire cut about 20 inches long!
The tomahawk has the same components of a standard ribeye steak: the longissimus dorsi (center or actual rib eye), complexus, and my favorite part, the spinalis (aka-ribeye cap). The main differences are, as stated above, the thickness of the steak and the bone protruding out. It won’t taste any different than a normal ribeye, unless it has different marbling, been dry-aged, etc. So really, you’re getting a tomahawk ribeye steak for aesthetics and a bigger appetite (or splitting the steak with others).
PREPARING A TOMAHAWK RIBEYE STEAK
Having a bigger, more expensive cut of steak doesn’t necessarily mean you need to get fancy with the ingredients. The ribeye steak packs a lot of natural flavor and doesn’t need much help from a pile of spices. I like to put a light-to-medium coating of kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder over all the meat section of the tomahawk (no need to season the bone). However, I do like to add a few more ingredients when it comes time to sear. More on that later.
THE REVERSE SEAR METHOD
I’m a firm believer in the reverse sear method. You know how some folks immediately sear the steak for a few minutes and then put it in the oven to cook internally until done? Well, reverse sear is the opposite of that. Slow cook first, sear last. With the slow cook, I love to smoke the meat to infuse that smoke flavor into it. I prefer using either hickory, oak, or pecan wood. I smoke it at 225 degrees until internal temp reaches around 125-130 degrees. To measure internal temps, I love using the Thermapen Mk4 from Thermoworks. Gets me fast, accurate results every time! Then I remove the steak and get the grill hot enough for searing.
A true searing temp begins around 550 degrees. Searing helps develop a tasty crust to the steak which adds another element to the flavor. You can sear directly on the grates of the grill, in a cast iron skillet, or even put the steak directly on the hot coals (aka- caveman style!). I prefer the cast iron skillet because the surface of the meat gets a more even crust cooked into it that way.
Do you want to know a secret to cooking a tomahawk ribeye steak in a cast iron skillet? Turn the skillet upside down! If not, the long bone on the tomahawk will keep the whole surface of the meat from touching the surface inside the skillet. But turning the cast iron skillet upside down gives you a flat surface to cook on and the bone won’t interrupt the sear. I recommend searing with avocado oil (good for high temp cooking), a clove of garlic, and a sprig of rosemary. Sear for 1-2 minutes on each side before removing.
RESTING, SLICING THE TOMAHAWK RIBEYE STEAK
Once your tomahawk ribeye steak has reached the desired internal temp, place it on a large cutting board to rest. At this point is the ideal time to place a tablespoon of butter on top and let the butter melt into the steak during the rest. I like to use garlic herb butter from Chef Shamy because it has garlic, herbs, and a bit of Parmesan cheese in it. As the ribeye steak is resting, it will likely experience carry over temp increase of a few degrees. That’s because the meat has been exposed to really hot temps and while the external is cooling off, the internal is still holding in that heat. Remember that meat is muscle and as it relaxes, it’s like sweating. Except that it’s sweating those savory meat juices. Let rest about 15-20 minutes before slicing for optimal flavor.
TOMAHAWK RIBEYE STEAK RECIPE
- 1 tomahawk ribeye steak (about 48 oz.)
- 1 Tablespoon kosher salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 clove garlic
- 1 sprig rosemary
- 1 Tablespoon butter
1. Preheat grill to 225 degrees on indirect heat with hickory wood. Mix kosher salt, black pepper, and garlic powder together then sprinkle evenly on tomahawk ribeye steak
2. Place tomahawk ribeye steak on grill for 90 minutes or until internal temp reaches 125-130 degrees. Remove and sear on high heat on the back of a cast iron skillet for 1-2 minutes on each side. Put avocado oil, garlic clove, and rosemary on skillet before searing steak. Remove steak from grill and place on a large cutting board.
3. Place butter on top of tomahawk ribeye steak and let rest for 15-20 minutes before slicing.
1. Cast iron skillet turned upside down on the grill keeps the elongated bone from the tomahawk ribeye steak from pulling up on part of the steak and ensures the entire surface of the meat gets seared.
2. Feel free to substitute hickory wood for oak or pecan.
Serving Size:6 oz
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 460 Total Fat: 32g Saturated Fat: 15g Cholesterol: 160mg Sodium: 130mg Carbohydrates: 0g Fiber: 0g Sugar: 0g Protein: 42g