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Perfect Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak

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This Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak is one of the most perfectly cooked and delicious pieces of beef I’ve ever had the privilege of eating. Slow smoked, then seared for a perfectly pink and tender steak! Not to mention that giant bone curving off of a perfectly cooked slab of steak looks totally amazing.

How to Reverse Sear a Steak:

First, make sure you watch the video (just below this paragraph). It gives you a great visual aid to the process. To reverse sear, the tomahawk steak is cooked at a lower temperature on the smoker while the meat slowly comes up in temperature. Using a thermometer to test for internal temperature, the steak is removed from the grill about 10-15 degrees from desired doneness and the grill is then cranked up to high or a cast iron skillet is preheated. The steaks are returned to the smoking hot grill or skillet and quickly seared on each side for the perfect crunchy finish and beautiful char we all love on our steak. This method ensures that the inside of the steak is perfectly cooked to your desired doneness from top to bottom opposed to having dry edges on the outside and a raw hunk of meat in the middle (or worst case scenario, dry and charred all the way through.) The most important thing to perfecting this method is having a quick read internal thermometer. I have a Thermoworks MK4 and I use it to get the perfect steaks every time.

What is a Tomahawk Steak?

The cut: A tomahawk steak is a piece of tender rib meat (also known as a rib-eye steak) that hasn’t been fully removed from the bone. In face, the rib bone is left almost fully in tact and still attached to the meat! Rib eyes are one of my favorite steaks to grill, and while the long bone doesn’t add anything in terms of flavor, it looks amazingly awesome and makes a stunning presentation. Oftentimes, butchers will also cut the tomahawk steaks more generously thick with the bone still attached. Some people scoff at paying for the bone, but to justify the additional cost in my mind, I let my dog gnaw on the smoked bone for a little while after dinner. We both got a little treat!

Where to buy a Tomahawk Steak?

To get your hands on one of these behemoth beauties, you may need to do a little searching. I am SO lucky and have a grocery store, a butcher, and a Costco nearby that all carry tomahawk steaks. The grocery store has them pre-cut in the butcher’s case, Costco has them sliced and packaged and ready to go, but my favorite place by far is to get them from my butcher. He will cut one for me from the center of the rack (with the biggest spinalis muscle on top for the best flavor) and as thick as I like. Once you have a place where you can get a tomahawk steak, here’s what else you need to look for.

Color- Look for steaks that are bright red with no dark or brownish spots. The lights in the meat case are different and designed to make meat look better. Pull your steak out of the case or away from the others and look at them in the regular light. If your butcher is cutting them for you, you should have an amazingly fresh product.

Marbling- Marbling is the amount of fat laced throughout your meat. You may be trained to think that fat=bad, but giiiiirl, you gotta change your state of mind. The marbled fat in a steak means flavor. Yummy, delicious, melt in your mouth flavor. For rib-eye steaks, I always try and pick a steak with a large spinalis muscle on the top part of the steak and a well-marbled eye in the center.

Steak Seasoning:

The Rub: Of course, you can use good old Kosher salt and cracked black pepper on a yummy steak (it will always be a favorite of mine) but if you’re feeling adventurous give my Homemade Steak Rub a try. This steak rub was eaten on some wicked delicious reverse seared rib-eyes during the infamous Steak and Cake celebration when I broke my first Guinness World Record! No matter what you use to season, remember to be liberal. Tomahawk steaks are notoriously thick and you’ll need enough seasoning to account for that big cut of beef.

Reverse Sear Tomahawk Steak
Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak

Print Recipe

This Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak is slow smoked, then seared for a perfectly pink and tender steak!

Servings Prep Time
2 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1.5 hours 2 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1.5 hours 2 hours
Reverse Sear Tomahawk Steak
Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak

Print Recipe

This Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steak is slow smoked, then seared for a perfectly pink and tender steak!

Servings Prep Time
2 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1.5 hours 2 hours
Servings Prep Time
2 people 5 minutes
Cook Time Passive Time
1.5 hours 2 hours

Instructions

  1. Remove the steaks from the refrigerator approximately 2 hours before cooking to allow to come to room temperature.

  2. Preheat your grill or smoker to 225 degrees F. I used oak wood for this steak because I wanted a pronounced smoke flavor, but more mild woods like hickory or alder work great too.

  3. Season your steak liberally on all sides with the homemade steak rub (or with salt and pepper). Make sure to press the seasonings into the meat with your hand opposed to just sprinkling them on.

  4. Place the steak on the grill grate and close the lid. Cook the steaks at 225 degrees F until the internal temperature reaches 115 degrees F. Use an internal thermometer to check the temperature.

  5. Remove the steak from the grill to a separate plate. Preheat a cast iron skillet over medium high heat. Drop the butter into the pan and when it's melted and bubbling, it's time to sear the steaks. If you're searing at a higher heat on your grill, brush each side of your steak with melted butter.

  6. Place the tomahawk steak in the hot pan or on to the grill and sear each side for approximately 2-3 minutes or until desired doneness. Pull your steak at 125 degrees F for rare, 135 degrees F for medium rare, 145 degrees F for medium, 155 degrees for medium well, or 160 for well done (but please just give this one a go at medium rare… it really is the best).

  7. Let the steaks rest for 10-15 minutes before slicing and eating.

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Sauced: Swamp Boys Original BBQ Sauce

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Meatwave Rating: 7 out of 10

Swamp Boys delivers the characteristics of an exemplary competition barbecue sauce—glossy coating, attractive color, and a crowd pleasing barbecue flavor.

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Cooking Tips

Filipino-inspired Adobo Ribs

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When crafting a menu of Filipino-inspired dishes to introduce my NC friends to this cuisine, there was little doubt that adobo needed to be included. I would bet that for many, like it was for myself, adobo is the gateway into Filipino food—it's ubiquitous and easy to come by, familiar enough to make it a comfortable first choice in what can be an otherwise unfamiliar menu, incredibly delicious, and the perfect introduction to the tangy and savory qualities that form the backbone of so much of the cuisine. The only problem was adobo—most commonly a meat braised in a vinegar and soy sauce mixture—is not an easy thing to adapt to grilling or smoking. After racking my brain with a few ideas of how to do it, I finally settled on trying out an unorthodox adobo technique on ribs, and the results were incredible!

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Schwenkbraten Sandwiches

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Thu Dec 14, 2017

Schwenkbraten

I'm no master of German cuisine, and when I decided to host an Oktoberfest cookout of sorts, my first, and only, recipes I thought of were all of the wurst variety. I felt like I both wanted to cook and offer more than sausages to my guest, so did some research on other ubiquitous German grilled meats and came across schwenkbraten—marinated and grilled pork neck steaks. It seemed like schwenkbraten consisted of three things, all dubbed schwenker—the unique suspended swinging grill over a live fire for cooking, the person actually doing the grilling (or most correctly, the swinging), and the meat itself. Seeing as I had two out of three and, having never had schwenkbraten before, I was freed a bit of the confines of authenticity, it seemed like a decent choice to help fill out the menu with at least one thing that fit the theme was not an encased meat.

Schwenkbraten

To start this recipe off, I attempted to get some true pork neck steaks, and while pork neck wasn't all that difficult to find, procuring it in a steak fashion, and not cut into little pieces, was. So I did what I figured was the next best, and closet thing. I trimmed off half-inch thick steaks from a pork shoulder I was also using to make sausages. Seeing as the shoulder is pretty close to the neck and the steaks had a similar amount of fat and connective tissue, I felt good that this was the right direction.

Schwenkbraten

The flavoring of the marinade seemed a little bit like a cook's choice. I read recipes and watched some German Youtube video for research and what went into the sauce was wide and varied. Most everyone had oil (of course), garlic, juniper berries, and mustard. So I began there added in dried thyme and oregano for the herbal component that looked common, as well as paprika and cayenne for a touch of spice and heat.

Schwenkbraten

Onions also seemed a must, so I tossed one sliced onion into the marinade and coated it, along with the pork, in the liquid. My plan later was to make use of those onions by grilling them and using them as a topping for the sandwiches.

Schwenkbraten

Another hallmark of schwenkbraten recipes was a long marinade time. Seeing as there wasn't a whole lot in the marinade that would actually react with the meat to make significant changes over time, I question if that is really a necessity, scientifically speaking. I did marinate mine almost 24 hours since I prepared it the afternoon before the event, but I would imagine less time wouldn't produce dramatically different results. For good measure though, I left he ideal timing from overnight to two days in the final recipe.

Schwenkbraten

My major area of concern in making these was how they would turn out cooked over high heat. Pork shoulder, and neck, is full of fat and connective tissue that is chewy and tough when cooked quickly, but renders when cooked low and slow. If using a traditional schwenker, I assume the grilling is a bit slower than on a grill since the coals are further from the grill grate, but it's still hot and fast cooking and not what I was used to for shoulder meat.

Schwenkbraten

I must say though, they did grill up to be really beautiful. In just a few minutes per side, the thin steaks developed a nice sear with attractive browning and were also just cooked through, without being over done—so the hot fire did its job in this respect.

Schwenkbraten

Once the steaks were done and I had room on the grill again, I put a cast iron skillet over the coals and let it preheat for a few minutes. I then took the onions from the marinade and cooked them in the hot skillet until they were crisp-tender, which took about five minutes.

Schwenkbraten

And now for what's become a standard PSA of mine—if you're making sandwiches on the grill, use that massive space and heat source to grill your bread! That bread in this scenario were Kaiser rolls, which I toasted over direct heat until lightly browned, warmed through, and a bit crusty.

Schwenkbraten

I then turned my three grilled elements into sandwiches by topping each bun with a pork steak or two and a portion of the onions. Whether they tasted good was still a question, but they certainly looked great and very meat forward, which is how I imagine a lot of German dishes are.

Schwenkbraten

And the flavor was pretty great too. The marinade was powerful and lent a nice pungent and herbal profile to the meat and onions, along with a slight hit of heat. The pork itself was well cooked, but as I expected, there was a bit more chew to it than I'm used to. That's not to say that's a bad thing—there was no bit of this sandwich that was inedible—it was just different, and what I assume is all part of the experience. My main point of contention was the sandwiches felt a tad dry when taken altogether, but that's something a little spread of mustard or mayo could easily fix, and I would add that in if I were making these again. All-in-all though, they provided the non-wurst dish I was looking for and introduced me to something new that I now must seek out and try to see what real deal schwenkbraten is all about.

Schwenkbraten Sandwiches

A long stint in a herbed and spiced mustard marinade gives these German pork steak sandwiches an immense flavor.

  • Prep Time:
  • 10 Minutes
  • Inactive Time:
  • 4 Hours
  • Cook Time:
  • 10 Minutes
  • Total Time:
  • 4 Hours 20 Minutes
  • Yield:
  • 8 servings

Ingredients

  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons spicy mustard
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 4 juniper berries, crushed
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 2lbs pork neck or shoulder steaks, cut 1/2-inch thick
  • 1 large yellow onion, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 8 Kaiser rolls

Procedure

  1. In a small bowl, whisk together oil, mustard, salt, garlic, paprika, juniper berries, thyme, oregano, and cayenne pepper. Add in onion and steak and toss to thoroughly coat. Transfer to a large Ziploc bag, seal, removing as much air as possible, and place in refrigerator overnight to two days.
  2. Light one chimney full of charcoal. When all the charcoal is lit and covered with gray ash, pour out and spread the coals evenly over entire surface of coal grate. Set cooking grate in place, cover grill and allow to preheat for 5 minutes. Clean and oil the grilling grate. Place porks steaks on grill and cook until browned and just cooked through, about 2 minutes per side. Transfer steaks to a cutting board or platter.
  3. Place a cast iron skillet on grill and let preheat for 2 to 3 minutes. Place onions in skillet and cook until slightly softened, about 5 minutes. Remove skillet from grill and set aside. Place rolls on grill, cut side down, and cook until warmed through and lightly toasted, about 1 minute.
  4. Transfer buns to serving platter or plates, top each bottom half with pork steaks and onions. Serve immediately.
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