Is there a more visually appealing piece of meat than a thick-cut tomahawk steak? The vast marbling of an American Wagyu tomahawk makes it look like a modern art masterpiece. But what's the best way to prepare this savory stunner? Continue reading this article to learn tips on how to cook a tomahawk steak.
How To Grill Tomahawk Steaks
The conventional way to cook steaks on the grill is to let the high heat of the flames work its magic. Grilling tomahawk steaks on a gas or charcoal grill is a tried and true way of developing the perfect crust on the outside while keeping the center exquisitely tender. However, the thickness makes cooking a tomahawk steak a bit more challenging than other popular steak cuts like New York strips, ribeyes, and skirts.
If you're not mindful of flare-ups or your grill’s intense heat, you may wind up with a beautifully seared steak that remains raw in the middle. So how do you combat this? One of the best techniques for grilling tomahawk steaks is to develop your outer crust over direct heat for a couple of minutes per side and then finish it over indirect heat.
This enables the steak to reach a medium-rare (or more well done if you prefer) internal temperature without risking a burnt or heavily charred layer. Some grill masters swear by flipping the steak only once. Others claim you achieve a more even cook if you continually turn it every 30 seconds until it gains the golden brown look that gets your mouth watering. We say give each cooking method a try and find out which works best for you.
The Reverse Sear Tomahawk Steak Cooking Method
A lesser-known but probably better way to cook a tomahawk steak is to reverse sear it. When you reverse sear a steak, you start the process over lower, indirect heat and then finish it over high direct heat. You can reverse sear a tomahawk steak solely on the grill or use an oven. Let's focus on grilling for now.
If using a charcoal grill, load up the bowl with charcoal on one side, and leave little or no coals on the other. Once lit and ashed over, insert a meat thermometer in the steak and place it on the side without coal. Let the ambient air slowly bring your tomahawk to an internal temperature of 122 degrees for medium-rare.
Once you've hit your desired temperature, it's time to grill the tomahawk steak over the flames. Flip the steak every 30 seconds until the meat thermometer reads your preferred level of doneness. The result is a charred specimen of seared supremacy.
If grilling on a gas grill, turn half your burners on high and the others on low. Follow the rest of the steps as if using a charcoal grill.
Cooking Tomahawk Steak in the Oven
As previously mentioned, the oven is an excellent tool for reverse searing tomahawk steaks. In fact, many people think it's a more reliable and consistent method than grilling. To start, preheat your oven to 225 degrees. Place your steak on a baking sheet or in a cast-iron skillet and insert your meat thermometer.
When the oven is preheated, put your steak in and bring it to an internal temperature of 122 degrees (assuming you want medium-rare). When it comes time to sear, you have plenty of options. If you want to finish cooking a tomahawk steak in the oven, you can sear it using your broiler. This can quickly develop a wonderfully charred outer crust sure to take you and your dining companions to a feasting fantasyland.
If you don't have a broiler or are unfamiliar with using one, you can also sear your steak in a cast iron pan. As your steak is cooking in the oven, heat your pan over high heat on the stove. You want to get it as hot as possible. When the steak is ready for searing, put it in the pan and flip every 30 seconds until it reaches your chosen level of doneness. If your tomahawk doesn't fit in your pan because of the bone, flip the pan upside down on the stove. This eliminates the lip causing such problems.
If you prefer the taste and texture of flame-grilled tomahawk steaks, you can also complete the reverse sear method on your grill. Follow the searing instructions above, and you're sure to develop a sensational crust.
Additional Tips For Cooking a Tomahawk Steak
If you want to elevate your home-cooked steak to rival or exceed your favorite fancy steakhouse, here are some tips for prepping, searing, and grilling tomahawk steaks:
- Take the meat out of the refrigerator at least one hour before you plan to cook the tomahawk steak. This allows the meat to come to room temperature and cook more evenly.
- Dab a towel or cloth in canola or olive oil and rub over your grill grates to prevent sticking.
- Pat your steak completely dry with a paper towel after taking it out of the refrigerator. Then coat it in a thin layer of olive or avocado oil. Generously salt and pepper the entire cut.
- For added visual appeal, rotate your steaks a quarter turn halfway through the searing or grill process to get those beautiful grill hatch marks.
- After cooking a tomahawk steak, whether grilling or reverse searing, let it rest. Loosely tent the steak with aluminum foil and leave it be for 10 minutes. Letting the steaks rest gives the juices time to redistribute and not run out onto your plate as soon as you slice into it.