How to Grill a Tomahawk Ribeye Steak
If you're like me, when you hear the word steak, your mouth instantly starts to water. Steaks are pieces of meat that have been sliced across muscle fibers and can sometimes include a bone. Besides beef steaks, you may also run across fish steaks, or ground meat steaks to name a few. Beef steaks can also be skirt steaks when sliced parallel to the fibers, or flank steaks when cut from the abdominal muscle. Steaks can also be cooked in a number of ways, you can grill them, cook them in a sauce as in a steak and kidney pie, or minced and formed into a patty like hamburgers. Steaks can also be pan fried.
Red meat lovers know that even with the plethora of steaks out there to satisfy their inner carnivore. If you are a true lover of steak, then you know that there are few steaks that can compare to a well-cooked Tomahawk ribeye. The Tomahawk is a bone-in marbled ribeye cut between the 6th and 12th ribs of a cow. It is tender and one of the most flavorful cuts of meat weighing approximately 30 to 45 ounces. It's called a "tomahawk" because the shape of the cut along with the rib bone attached looks similar to a single-handed ax. These prime cuts of beef can also carry a hefty price, which can rise up to and above $100. With prices that high, it's easy to see why you would want to learn to cook this grilled steak at home.
To begin this adventure, take a look at the items you will need:
- quality cut tomahawk ribeye
- kosher salt
- your favorite dry rub
- meat thermometer
- paper towels
- heavy duty foil
How to Cook the Tomahawk Ribeye
The first and easily most important step towards cooking the perfect grilled Tomahawk ribeye is the selection.
Once you have chosen your prize, it's time for prep. Grilling the perfect Tomahawk ribeye steak requires time and patience. Start by applying a heavy coat of kosher salt to your steak. Let the salted steak sit for an hour at room temperature. After the hour has passed, rinse the salt off and pat your steak dry. Now, liberally apply your favorite dry rub to both sides of the steak. You are finally ready to start cooking it.
For thick cuts of meat, a two stage cooking method works wonderfully. During the first stage, you grill your steak over a low temperature for about 45 minutes or so depending on its thickness. This can be done in either an oven or a smoker. Start by pre heating the oven or cooker to approximately 220-250 degrees F. Wrap the exposed rib bone with a damp paper towel then wrap the bone with heavy duty foil. This will prevent the bone from being scorched. Now place your meat probe/thermometer in the center of the thickest area of the steak. We will be cooking the steak twice, so for the first phase you want to have a lower pull temperature. What is a pull temperature? I'm glad you asked. Pull temperature refers to the internal temperature at which a food product should be removed from the heat source. After removing from heat, the carry over cooking (the process where food continues to cook after being removed from heat), completes the cooking without the food becoming over cooked. View the chart below to determine the pull temperature you'll want to use.
- Rare Pull Temp 115-120°F Final Temp 120-125°F
- Med Rare Pull Temp 120-125°F Final Temp 125-130°F
- Medium Pull Temp 130-135°F Final Temp 135-140°F
- Med Well Pull Temp 140-145°F Final Temp 145-150°F
- Well Done Pull Temp150°F and up Final Temp 155°F and up
For the second stage of cooking, have your grill pre heated to high heat. sear the steak on all sides. This will form a flavorful crust. Be sure to keep tracking the internal temperature the desired pull temperature, remove it from the heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing and serving.
Completing the Meal
As wonderful as this grilled steak is going to taste, we cannot live on just steak alone. Let's take a look at side dishes to compliment your masterpiece. One very tasty side would be grilled sweet potatoes. You've already got the grill fired up, so why not? Simply cut them into thick slices, toss them in oil and salt and grill them for 10 minutes. You can round out your meal with grilled parmesan broccoli. First marinate the broccoli florets in olive oil and lemon juice. This will not only brighten the flavor; it will act as an adhesive when you sprinkle on the grated parmesan. Grill the florets for ten minutes flipping them every 2-2 1/2 minutes until they become crisp and tender. Check out this list of other side dish options:
- tangy carrot slaw
- grilled summer squash
- crispy salt and vinegar potatoes
- grilled onion, potato and bacon skewers
- grilled corn on the cob
- roasted green beans
Don't forget to wet your whistle with a fine red wine. Red wines go best with steaks because of a molecule called tannins. Tannins help to release the flavor in the meat by softening the fats. The beef helps to reduce the astringency (dryness) of the red wine and releases more of its' fruity flavors which is why the duo of steak and red wine is usually top choice. Of course, no one can argue with an ice cold beer accompanying their steak as well. If alcoholic beverages aren't your thing, you can easily opt for a cranberry or pomegranate juice. These juices contain the same tannins as red wine and pair just as nicely with the steak.
So with a little patience and a lot of practice, you can start enjoying a perfectly grilled Tomahawk ribeye in the comfort of your own home. As with any dish, you can tweak and adjust it to your own preferences. While there are other methods you could use, this particular method is definitely worth trying.
Frequently Asked Questions
Is a tomahawk a ribeye?
Yes, a tomahawk steak is a cut of beef ribeye that includes the bone. For presentation purposes, the entire rib bone is kept long. The meat is carefully removed from the bone using a process called “Frenching.” This gives the steak a specific appearance: It looks like it has a handle, just like an axe!
How long does it take to cook a tomahawk steak?
Because tomahawk steaks are such large, thick cuts of meat, they take a long time to cook. It will take around 45 minutes to an hour for your steak to reach the target medium-rare temperatures, and even longer to arrive at well-done temperatures. Then, once the steak is cooked, you’ll want to let it rest for at least 15 minutes, if not as long as 30 minutes. Plan ahead when cooking a tomahawk steak, especially if you’re cooking for company.
What’s the best way to cook a tomahawk ribeye steak?
We have found the best way to cook tomahawk ribeye steaks involves using indirect heat on the grill. You can also use the oven to cook a tomahawk this way if the weather outside is poor and you want to stay inside! Preheat the grill to 220 to 250 degrees F and place the steak on the indirect heat side of the grill. After it has reached the target temperatures outlined above, place the steak on the hot side of the grill to get a nice crust on the outside of the steak.
Are tomahawk steaks tender?
Yes, because the tomahawk is essentially an oversized ribeye steak with the bone attached. The bone helps radiate the heat, cooking the steak evenly from end to end, and the intermuscular fat in the ribeye makes it melt-in-your-mouth tender.
How much is a tomahawk steak?
In a restaurant like Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, a tomahawk steak can run upwards of $100. They are significantly less expensive when you buy them from a butcher, but they can still run you $30 a pound. Keep in mind that each steak likely weighs more than a pound (and can weigh as much as two pounds).