In recent years, the tomahawk steak has gained popularity among steak enthusiasts, thanks to its massive size and unique presentation. This bone-in ribeye steak gets its name from the long bone that is left attached, which resembles a tomahawk axe. But cooking a tomahawk steak is no simple task. It requires precision and understanding of the meat to achieve the perfect doneness, ensuring a juicy and flavorful steak every time. So, if you’re wondering how long you should cook a tomahawk steak, read on to discover the secrets behind cooking this magnificent cut of beef.
Understanding the Tomahawk Steak
Before we dive into the cooking process, let’s take a moment to understand what makes a tomahawk steak so special. The tomahawk steak is essentially a ribeye steak with the bone left long, known as the frenched bone. This particular cut of beef is renowned for its rich marbling, intense flavor, and tender texture, making it a favorite among steak connoisseurs.
But what exactly sets the tomahawk steak apart from other cuts of beef? Well, let’s delve deeper into its origins, preparation, and why it has become such a beloved choice for meat enthusiasts.
What is a Tomahawk Steak?
At its core, a tomahawk steak is a bone-in ribeye cut derived from the rib section of the beef. The ribeye muscle, known for its tenderness and flavor, is left intact. The bone, which is 6 to 8 inches long, is frenched to showcase its impressive length, giving the steak its tomahawk-like appearance. The bone not only adds visual appeal but also imparts additional flavor to the meat during the cooking process.
But how does the frenched bone affect the overall taste and texture of the steak? Well, the bone acts as a natural heat conductor, distributing heat evenly throughout the meat. This results in a more uniform cooking process, ensuring that the steak is cooked to perfection, with a juicy and succulent interior.
Furthermore, the presence of the bone also adds an element of drama to the dining experience. As the steak is served, the long bone protruding from the meat commands attention and sparks curiosity, making it a conversation starter at any gathering.
Why is it Called a Tomahawk Steak?
The name “tomahawk steak” originates from its resemblance to a tomahawk axe. The long frenched bone sticking out of the ribeye steak resembles the handle of the axe, creating a striking visual impact on the plate. This unique presentation has made the tomahawk steak a showstopper at many steakhouse restaurants and backyard barbecues.
Legend has it that the tomahawk steak got its name from a creative chef who wanted to pay homage to the Native American tomahawk axe, known for its distinctive shape. By incorporating the long bone into the ribeye steak, the chef created a culinary masterpiece that not only pleased the taste buds but also delighted the eyes.
Today, the tomahawk steak continues to captivate diners with its impressive appearance and exceptional flavor. Whether it’s the sizzle of the steak on a hot grill or the aroma that fills the air as it cooks, the tomahawk steak offers a sensory experience like no other.
So, the next time you find yourself craving a truly memorable steak, consider indulging in a tomahawk steak. With its tender, marbled meat and dramatic presentation, it is sure to leave a lasting impression on both your palate and your guests.
Preparing Your Tomahawk Steak for Cooking
Before you start cooking your tomahawk steak, it’s essential to prepare it properly. This includes selecting the right steak, gathering the necessary tools, and seasoning it to enhance its natural flavors.
Choosing the Right Tomahawk Steak
When selecting a tomahawk steak, look for one with abundant marbling and a deep red color. The marbling, or intramuscular fat, is what contributes to the steak’s juiciness and flavor. Look for a steak that has well-distributed fat throughout, as this will ensure a melt-in-your-mouth experience when cooked.
Furthermore, consider the grade of the steak. Prime grade tomahawk steaks are the highest quality and have the most marbling, making them incredibly tender and flavorful. Choice grade steaks are also a good option, offering a balance between marbling and affordability. However, avoid select grade steaks as they tend to have less marbling and may result in a drier texture.
Another factor to consider is the thickness of the steak. Aim for a tomahawk steak that is at least two inches thick. This thickness allows for a beautiful sear on the outside while ensuring a perfectly cooked interior.
Necessary Tools for Cooking a Tomahawk Steak
Cooking a tomahawk steak requires a few essential tools to achieve the best results. First and foremost, you’ll need a reliable meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature of the steak accurately. This is crucial to ensure that your steak is cooked to your desired level of doneness, whether it’s rare, medium-rare, medium, or well-done.
In addition to a meat thermometer, having a pair of long-handled tongs is essential. The long handles allow you to flip the steak without getting too close to the heat source, ensuring your safety while cooking. Tongs also provide a secure grip, allowing you to handle the large tomahawk steak with ease.
Furthermore, the cooking method you choose will determine the tools you need. If you plan to grill your tomahawk steak, a quality grill with adjustable heat settings is a must. Opt for a grill with a wide cooking surface to accommodate the large size of the tomahawk steak. On the other hand, if you prefer cooking indoors, a cast-iron skillet is an excellent alternative. The heavy-bottomed skillet retains heat well and provides even cooking, resulting in a perfectly seared steak.
Seasoning Your Tomahawk Steak
To enhance the natural flavors of the tomahawk steak, season it generously with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. The coarse texture of kosher salt helps to create a flavorful crust on the steak, while the black pepper adds a hint of heat and complexity.
However, don’t limit yourself to just salt and pepper. You can also experiment with other seasonings to elevate the taste of your tomahawk steak. Consider adding garlic powder for a savory kick or onion powder for a subtle sweetness. If you prefer a more robust flavor profile, try using a steak rub that incorporates a blend of herbs and spices.
For an extra layer of flavor, consider marinating your tomahawk steak. A simple marinade made with olive oil, soy sauce, Worcestershire sauce, minced garlic, and herbs can infuse the steak with additional moisture and taste. Let the steak marinate for at least an hour, or overnight for a more intense flavor.
Before cooking, remember to let the seasoned steak come to room temperature. Allowing it to sit at room temperature for about 30 minutes before cooking ensures even cooking throughout the steak, resulting in a juicy and tender final product.
Cooking Methods for Tomahawk Steak
Now that we’ve covered the basics of tomahawk steak preparation, let’s delve into the various cooking methods you can employ to cook this magnificent cut of beef.
Grilling a Tomahawk Steak
Grilling is one of the most popular methods for cooking a tomahawk steak, as it imparts a smoky flavor and creates beautiful grill marks on the meat. Preheat your grill to high heat and sear the steak on each side for 2-3 minutes to develop a crust. Then, reduce the heat to medium and continue grilling until your desired level of doneness is reached, using a meat thermometer to monitor the internal temperature.
When grilling a tomahawk steak, you have the option to use various types of wood chips to enhance the flavor. For a bold and robust taste, try using hickory or mesquite chips. If you prefer a milder smoky flavor, opt for fruitwood chips like apple or cherry. Soak the wood chips in water for about 30 minutes before placing them on the hot coals or in a smoker box to create aromatic smoke that will infuse the meat.
Additionally, consider marinating the tomahawk steak before grilling to add extra flavor and tenderness. A simple marinade of olive oil, minced garlic, fresh herbs, and a splash of Worcestershire sauce can work wonders. Let the steak marinate in the refrigerator for at least an hour before grilling for optimal results.
Oven Baking a Tomahawk Steak
If you prefer to cook indoors, baking your tomahawk steak in the oven is a fantastic option. Preheat your oven to a high temperature (around 450°F) to achieve a nice sear. Start by searing the steak in a hot cast-iron skillet on the stovetop, then transfer the skillet to the oven to finish cooking. This method ensures an evenly cooked tomahawk steak with a delicious crust.
While baking a tomahawk steak, you can elevate the flavors by adding aromatics to the skillet. Toss in some fresh rosemary sprigs, whole garlic cloves, and a pat of butter before transferring the skillet to the oven. As the steak cooks, the aromatics will release their fragrant oils, infusing the meat with additional depth of flavor.
For those who prefer a more tender and juicy tomahawk steak, consider using the reverse sear method. This technique involves baking the steak in a low-temperature oven (around 275°F) until it reaches an internal temperature of about 10-15 degrees below your desired doneness. Then, remove the steak from the oven and sear it in a hot skillet or on a grill for a few minutes on each side to develop a caramelized crust. This method allows for even cooking and a perfect pink center.
Pan Searing a Tomahawk Steak
Pan searing is another excellent cooking method for a tomahawk steak, especially if you don’t have access to a grill or oven. Heat a cast-iron skillet over high heat until it’s smoking hot. Sear the steak on each side for a few minutes to develop a rich crust, then reduce the heat to medium and continue cooking until the internal temperature reaches your desired level of doneness.
When pan searing a tomahawk steak, it’s crucial to let the meat rest after cooking. Transfer the steak to a cutting board and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Allowing the steak to rest for 5-10 minutes before slicing will help the juices redistribute throughout the meat, resulting in a more succulent and flavorful eating experience.
To take your pan-seared tomahawk steak to the next level, consider creating a flavorful pan sauce. After removing the steak from the skillet, deglaze the pan with a splash of red wine or beef broth, scraping up any browned bits from the bottom. Add in some minced shallots and a knob of butter, then simmer the sauce until it thickens slightly. Drizzle this luscious sauce over the sliced steak for an extra burst of flavor.
Determining the Cooking Time for Your Tomahawk Steak
Cooking time plays a crucial role in achieving the perfect doneness for your tomahawk steak. Several factors can influence the cooking time, and it’s important to consider them to ensure your steak is cooked to your liking.
Factors Influencing Cooking Time
The thickness of your tomahawk steak, its starting temperature, and the cooking method you choose all affect the cooking time. Thicker steaks will require more time, while steaks at room temperature will cook faster than those straight from the refrigerator. Furthermore, grilling and pan searing generally result in faster cooking compared to oven baking.
Using a Meat Thermometer
While cooking time is a good general guideline, the most accurate way to determine doneness is by using a meat thermometer. Insert the thermometer probe into the thickest part of the steak, away from the bone, to get an accurate reading of the internal temperature. For a medium-rare tomahawk steak, aim for an internal temperature of 130-135°F, while a medium steak will require 140-145°F. Remember to account for carryover cooking, where the temperature continues to rise after removing the steak from the heat source.
Desired Level of Doneness
Ultimately, the cooking time for your tomahawk steak will depend on your personal preference for doneness. Whether you prefer a rare, medium-rare, medium, or well-done steak, using a meat thermometer will ensure you achieve the perfect level of doneness every time you cook a tomahawk steak.
Now that you know the secrets behind cooking a tomahawk steak to perfection, it’s time to put your knowledge to the test. With the right preparation, cooking method, and understanding of cooking time, you can savor the immense flavor and tenderness that a tomahawk steak has to offer. So fire up your grill, heat up your skillet, or preheat your oven and get ready to enjoy a mouthwatering tomahawk steak cooked to perfection!