Did you get your awakening to the joys of cooking steak from the intro to the Flintstones?
Have you ever grilled yourself a fine Ribeye and thought “this is great, but I wish it looked more like a single-handed ax used by Native Americans”?
Well, good news! because in this article, we’ll be looking at the Tomahawk Ribeye Steak: what it is, where you can get one, and how to cook this sabretooth-scale steak to perfection.
What is a Tomahawk Steak?
A Tomahawk Steak is really just a bone-in Ribeye, taken from the rib section of the steer.
The butcher leaves the large rib bone attached, protruding between 10 and 20 inches from the steak. Rather like a big meat lollipop.
The Ribeye steak is cut from the longissimus dorsi, one of two long muscles that run under a beef cow’s ribs.
This particular set of muscles doesn’t see much use during the day to day life of cattle, so it stays tender. This tenderness, along with their incredible marbling, contributes to the popularity of Ribeye steaks.
How big is a Tomahawk steak?
Tomahawk Steaks are cut thick, so you can expect a piece of beef around 2 inches in thickness and weighing between 2 and 3 pounds!
The bone sticking out from the Tomahawk Steak is ‘frenched’ which means all of the connective tissue, fat, and meat has been removed from it, leaving a clean bone handle for your steak.
The Tomahawk Steak is pretty unique and is normally only advertised under that name.
If you see Ribeyes advertised as a Cowboy Cut or bone-in Ribeye, this normally refers to smaller, more traditional Ribeyes with a small section of bone left in.
Order one of those instead of a Tomahawk and you might be disappointed when you don’t get the stone age steak you were looking for.
Where to buy a Tomahawk Steak
Some specialty butchers will sell you a Tomahawk, otherwise, you can always get one delivered.
Snake River Farms offer a gorgeous 2″ thick American Wagyu Tomahawk Steak, complete with the prized Ribeye fat cap, for $125.00.
This 2.5 lbs USDA Prime steak takes advantage of the legendary Wagyu marbling for a beautifully smooth texture.
Snake River has been around since 1968 and is the supplier of A-grade meat to Michelin-star restaurants, so you can trust this family business to provide you with excellent quality beef.
Snake River Farms ships its meat frozen via courier and all orders made before 1 pm EST will be sent out on the same day.
Porter Road will ship you a fresh 2.5-3 lbs Tomahawk Ribeye for just $75 that will “leave you feeling like a caveman.”
Run by former chefs James Peisker and Chris Carter, Porter Road grew out of their desire to create a digital butcher’s shop that could supply top-quality fresh hand-cut meat, sourced from local farms, to customers nationwide.
All their meat, apart from ground beef, sausages, or larger roasts, is shipped fresh in vacuum-sealed bags using their Standard and Express shipping options via UPS.
How does the price of a Tomahawk steak compare to a normal Ribeye?
How much you are paying for your Tomahawk Steaks depends on the quality of the beef you are buying and who you are getting it from.
However, you should expect to pay up to three times more than your normal bone-in Ribeye.
While it might seem like that is a reasonable increase when you are moving from a 24-ounce Ribeye to a 40-ounce Tomahawk, it is essential to bear in mind that a lot of that weight is going to be bone and not meat.
You can expect to spend an average of about $100 on a quality Tomahawk Steak, and the reality is that around $50 to $80 of that is paying for a considerable length of bone and a more Instagram ready steak.
So are they a rip-off?
Well, a rip-off is very much in the eye of the beholder.
Does the extra bone add anything to the taste of the meat? No, not really.
Generally, the extra flavor from bones comes in the form of melted marrow. Marrow is rich with beautifully meaty flavors but doesn’t react well to dry cooking methods, which is why you boil bones for the best stock.
Since you’ll mostly be grilling, roasting or frying your Tomahawk Steak, the marrow doesn’t really get the chance to contribute to the overall taste of the meat.
The joy of a Tomahawk Steak is really in the presentation. It’s a massive chunk of meat with a handy bone handle that you can wave around like Conan the Barbarian.
Will you pay a little more for that privilege? Yes!
Is it worth it? Well, that’s up to you. If you are looking for a chunk of beef that looks and feels like you could go out and hunt more beef with it, the Tomahawk Steak is the cut for you.
It’s an impressive steak that’s great for dropping jaws.
How to cook a Tomahawk Steak
When it comes to preparing a Tomahawk Steak, the challenge is its sheer size.
The steak is about 2 inches thick, which means traditional searing methods are going to leave you with either a cold center or a charcoal black surface.
The best methods for cooking your Tomahawk Steak are either using a grill to reverse sear it or using a combination of grill and pan.
Watch the video above to see how it’s done, or follow the instructions below for a few different options to cook your Tomahawk.
Reverse searing your Tomahawk Steak
- If you are using a gas grill, bring one of the burners, but not all of them, up to medium-high heat. If you are using charcoal, heap your coals over to one side of your grill to create a hot zone and a cool zone.
- Season your Tomahawk Steak to taste, bearing in mind that some of that seasoning is going to shed onto your grill.
- Put your Tomahawk Steak onto the cool side of the grill and let the indirect heat start to cook it.
- Use your ever-handy meat thermometer to keep an eye on the temperature of your steak.
- Once it reaches a temperature that is about 15-20 degrees away from your desired level of doneness, move it over to the hot side of your grill and turn it every 30 seconds or so to keep the cooking temperature even.
- Once your steak is about 5 degrees away from done, remove it from the grill and set it aside.
Hybrid grilling your Tomahawk Steak
Another good option is to follow the steps above for the low and slow section, and then finish the steak off in a hot pan.
This is a good option if you’re grill or smoker is set up for low and slow and you don’t want to reconfigure it for searing.
- Set up your grill, as above, using the two-zone grilling method.
- Once the steak reaches a temperature that is about 15-20 degrees away from your desired level of doneness, remove it from the heat and set it to one side.
- Heat up a cast-iron skillet until it is smoking hot. If your grill has a side burner, its best to do this outside, so you don’t set off all the smoke alarms.
- Put your steak direct into the pan to get that all-important Maillard reaction and turn them regularly to avoid scorching the surface.
- Once your steak is about 5 degrees away from done, remove it from the grill and set it aside to on a wire rack with a plate underneath to rest for around 5-10 minutes.
- Just before serving, heat up the juices in the pan with those on the plate until smoking hot and then drizzle over the steaks for the extra burst of flavor.
Man grill steak!
A Tomahawk Steak might not be the most cost-effective steak you’ve ever eaten, but what you have to ask yourself is, can you put a price on waving you steak around like Viking weapon?
If that idea appeals to your inner caveman, then go ahead and get yourself a Tomahawk Steak, after all, you can not be Ragnar the Steak Viking any day of the week!
What do you think about Tomahawk Steaks? Total rip-off or a bit of fun that is worth the extra price? Let us know in the comments below!