This post is sponsored by Omaha Steaks. Rest assured, all opinions are my own, and I only promote products I truly believe in.
When shopping for the perfect steak to cook, there are so many options to choose from. Some people like a leaner cut such as filet mignon, but sometimes a leaner cuts like filet mignon can be lacking in that extra beefy flavor we crave when eating a steak. Why is that exactly? The internal marbling or internal fat on a steak creates so much of the flavor. At the end of the day it all comes down to preference. Personally, my steak preference is all over the place. One day I might crave a strip steak, and the next an indulgent ribeye.
So, about that ribeye. Why is the ribeye beloved by so many? It is the perfect balance of beefy bliss and softer mouthfeel of a steak. What do I mean by mouth feel? Take a bite of a filet and if cooked properly, the meat will be soft and tender. Compare that to a bite of a strip steak, and you will see that the texture is actually quite different with the strip having more of a bite to it. Herein lies the reason I love the ribeye; you get the best of both worlds. A tender steak with more internal marbling and wonderfully intense beefy flavor.
Which ribeye should I buy?
We are so fortunate to have many options on where to buy our meat in this day and age. When I was young, you either walked to the local butcher or ended up at the grocery store, where the selection is mediocre at best. Today, we also have the opportunity to purchase meat online. We all lead such busy lives anymore. How fabulous is it to be able to be anywhere, pull up a website and order any type of meat we would like.
I have been fortunate to try a number of different options from Omaha Steaks and I am so impressed by their incredible selection of a number of different types of proteins including beef, pork, lamb, veal, poultry and seafood to name a few. Our focus today however is the ribeye and specifically, a tomahawk ribeye!
What on earth is a tomahawk ribeye? We know we have the option to buy a ribeye which is boneless or bone-in. If you’re anything like me, you love to be the lucky one to gnaw on the bone after you cut the meat off of it. Is it more flavorful? Is it that I get to channel my inner caveman and rip the meat off with my teeth? Maybe it is a bit of both. This tomahawk ribeye from Omaha steaks is a massive 36 ounce steak which has a sunning 7-inch bone. The steak is aged at least 21 days to provide even more flavor and tenderness. But why buy a steak with a 7-inch bone? I’ll tell you why. It is impressive to say the least and if you surprise your guests with it, they look upon it like you are some kind of rock star. Tomahawk ribeyes have gained popularity lately, not because you see them in every meat market (you won’t) but rather their increasing availability in higher end steakhouses. Also, not to mention their expanding presence on social media, especially the grilling community. No doubt, they are fun to cook, serve and eat.
So, how are we going to cook this enormous steak? Look, I get it, buying a higher end steak is an investment and we don’t want to mess it up. But have no fear! Whether you are cooking inside in an oven, on a stove, outside on a charcoal grill, a pellet grill, or over a fire pit, using some simple guidelines, you too can cook this steak to perfection.
Let’s start with the basics.
Help! I bought the ribeye, now what do I do?
If your steak is frozen, the first step is to thaw it. Please, do not defrost a steak in the microwave. I recommend thawing frozen steaks in the refrigerator. For a large 36 ounce steak, I usually recommend defrosting for at least two days ahead of time in the refrigerator. Because this tomahawk ribeye from Omaha Steaks is vacuum sealed, there is no worry that the packaging will leak in your refrigerator. But just to be on the safe side, always check the integrity of any package that meat comes in prior to putting in the refrigerator. That is just good practice.
But I want my steak today and I forgot to defrost it!
An alternative method is to defrost your steak in a large container big enough to submerge the steak and enough cold water to cover it. I will on occasion drop my steak in cold water in the morning, and replace the water with more cold water once an hour until it is defrosted all the way through. Now, let’s be realistic here. This is a big 36 ounce steak so it is likely going to take at least a few hours. As long as you keep the water cool, and the package is not broken in any way, it will be just fine.
Do I have to bring my steak to room temperature prior to cooking?
The great debate. One person says to always bring it to room temperature prior to cooking because it will provide a more even cook. But is that really true? I’ll be honest, I have tried cooking it both ways and the difference is negligible at best. Why is that? You would have to leave a steak out of the refrigerator for a considerable amount of time to bring the internal temperature up a significant amount of time. If you think every great steakhouse is pulling all of their steaks out at room temperature for at least an hour before cooking, I have news for you. They aren’t. Save yourself the time, especially on a large cut like this.
The Reverse Sear Method
What is the reverse sear method for cooking larger cuts of meat? Well, traditionally most people who would cook a decent sized steak for example (over 1 inch of thickness all the way up to the largest roasts), would sear the steak on the outside, then finish it in a pre-heated oven or grill until it is a bit shy of the desired target temperature, then let it rest. During the resting stage, the internal temperature of the meat would climb (more so the larger the cut of meat). If you’ve ever overcooked a prime rib using the traditional method of searing first and overestimated how much the temperature would carry over, you know exactly what I’m talking about.
I have seen larger roasts carry over as much as 25 degrees during a rest. Guess what, that roast you thought was going to be medium rare is now medium well. Why else might this not be a preferable method of cooking? Have you ever ordered a steak, wanted it to be rare or medium rare, but when you cut into it, it is well done on the outside, then you have a band of medium well under that, and at last the very inside of your steak is the actually temperature you would love your whole steak to be? It doesn’t have to be that way! Knowledge is power right? What if I told you could cook a steak where you had edge to edge consistency in temperature. Your steak would be edge to edge pink instead of having banding of different levels of doneness? Sign me up!
When we reverse sear a steak or roast, we are slowly bringing up the internal temperature of the meat then searing it at the end. Unlike with the traditional method, there is no need to rest the steak after a reverse sear. That’s right, after you sear that steak you can just dive in. Like your steak nice and hot like I prefer? Place your plates in the microwave (assuming they are microwave safe) for 2 minutes just prior to your steak being done. There is nothing worse than putting a nice hot sliced steak on a cold plate only have it chill instantly. Hot plate equals warm beef and the rest of the food on your plate for that matter.
Everything I read tells me to reverse sear at different temperature. I’m confused!
I get it. You spent your hard earned money on a great steak and you are doing your research and one person says to cook your steak at 225F , another says 250F and yet another, 275F. So which is correct? All of them. Wait what? Yes, whether you are cooking your steak or roast at any of those temperatures, it will all work. So what’s the difference? If you cook your meat at a lower temp, or a more gradual cook, you will get more even color internally but the sacrifice is that it will take longer to cook. Time is precious, and I’m more a fan of 250-275F. It’s your choice. For the purpose of this recipe, we will use 250F.
So let’s get to it. Here are the basics:
1. Defrost steak if necessary
2. Season steak
3. Heat oven or grill to 250F
4. Cook indirect until 10-15 degrees shy of your target finished temperature
5. Sear on high direct heat for max 60-90 seconds per side
To cook your tomahawk ribeye in the oven, start by preheating your oven to 250F. You will need, a sheet pan (line with foil for easier clean up) and a rack on top of the sheet pan. It is important that there is air flow all around the meat to allow for a more even cook. If the meat is touching just the sheet pan, that side will cook faster and that is not what we desire. Season the ribeye and place on top of the rack in then oven. If you have an thermometer to put in the meat to monitor the temperature while cooking, I highly recommend it. At minimum, a reliable instant read thermometer such as a Thermapen is an essential (and my preferred) method for making sure I am right on target. I pulled my tomahawk ribeye from Omaha steaks when it reached 115-120F degrees or 10-15 degrees below my desired finished temperature of around 130 degrees (medium rare).
Now, you may have realized by now that you are not going to be able to sear a tomahawk ribeye in a normal lipped skillet with that long bone. So, what are our options if we are not going to take it out to the grill? I like using a flat bottomed cast iron griddle pan with a low lip that can personally. You can buy one such as this for as little as $15. Your other option is to turn your broiler on high and put the steak directly underneath for a minute or so to brown each side.
Now, this is important. You want your pan screaming hot. Do not oil the pan until your pan is up to temperature. Heat the cast iron for a few minutes and to test the temperature. To test, wet your fingers and drop a few drops of water on the pan surface. You want to see that water dance around and evaporate quickly. Only then, do you add the oil or fat, and it should ripple. If you have a fancy infrared thermometer, we are looking for 450-500F. As a note, things might get a bit smokey in your kitchen and you do run the risk of setting off your smoke detectors when searing the steak. Turn on your kitchen stove vent if you have one, or crack the windows or doors.
But wait! What oil/fat do I use to sear the steak and how do I season it?
Seasoning your steak is a matter of preference. Personally, if it is a high quality steak, I’m a fan of just a liberal amount of sea salt on the surface. You might want to resist the urge to pepper your steak before hand. When searing at high temperatures, pepper can burn and impart a bitter taste on your meat. There are a lot of commercial rubs available to season steak. Pick your favorite and have at it.
As for what to sear the steak with, you should use a fat with a higher smoke temperature. If you use straight butter on the sear initially, the milk solids in the butter will burn. We didn’t come all this way to have burnt particles in the pan with our steak! If you love the taste of butter but want something more suitable for searing, use can use clarified butter or ghee. Beef tallow or bacon fat is another option and both add a delicious extra layer of flavor. There are other oils such as avocado oil, peanut oil, olive oil (extra light NOT extra virgin) which have higher smoke temperatures that would be perfectly suitable as well. I keep a jar of ghee and a jar of beef tallow on hand because that is my personal preference.
What temperature do I want my finished steak for rare/medium rare/medium/medium/well done?
- Rare: 125F
- Medium rare: 130-135F
- Medium: 140-145F
- Medium well: 150F
- Well done: 160F
Why the range? As you approach the upper limit of medium rare for example (over 135F) you are getting close to the beef being medium. Stay on the lower end of the spectrum for an ideal cook.
I know what you are thinking. There are many different types of grills available on the market. How do I grill it on the grill I own? We employ the same principles as the oven cook to the outdoor cook.
Charcoal, Gas grill, Pellet grill, yada yada yada
Yes, there are many different types of charcoal grills, but regardless of the type, set your grill up for an indirect cook initially and plan on a target temperature of around 250F. If using a pellet grill, just turn the dial to 250F. Set your steak on the grill after you have stabilized the temperature, and cook 10-15 degrees short of your desired finished temp. Pull steak off, and increase the temperature of your grill to at least 450-500 degrees. Note, if you have a pellet grill that cannot reach searing temperatures, feel free to sear the steak on cast iron on the stove or if you’re fortunate to have multiple grills, on a grill that can do so.
I love using a two zone cook on my Big Green Egg using my EGGspander at my house. I can cook it indirect initially, pull the steak off, then get the grill ramped up to 500 degrees without having to remove anything from the grill to do so. Want to get all wild and crazy? Get your lump charcoal red hot and do the sear direct on the coals or “Caveman Style”. That long bone makes a nice handle to toss it right on the charcoal. Please wear grill gloves if you are going to do this.
For a gas grill, the indirect method can be accomplished by setting the steak on one side of the grill where the burner is off, while the burner is turned on, on the opposite side of the grill. Gas grills can fluctuate in BTUs greatly. My best advice is to test your specific grill out beforehand with a thermometer that you can clip to the grate of the indirect side. For one gas grill you might have to have the burner on medium, and for another grill it might be on high.
Do I get to eat yet?
After you sear your tomahawk ribeye by any of the above methods, guess what. You can dig right in, no need to rest. If you are finishing up some side dishes after your steak is finished, don’t worry, it is perfectly fine if your steak does rest for a bit. After I slice my steak I love to put a light sprinkle of sea salt on my steak. If you watching your sodium intake, please skip the extra salt. Growing up we always let some butter melt into the steak before slicing, and that is delicious as well.
So, there you have it. Cooking the perfect tomahawk ribeye is truly easy once you know the basic steps. Make a couple side dishes, invite your friends or family over, or savor the deliciousness all to yourself. I certainly won’t judge you!
- Defrost steak if necessary.
- Season steak
- Heat oven or grill to 250ºF
- Cook indirect until 10-15 degrees shy of your target finished temperature.
- Sear on high direct heat for max 60-90 seconds per side.