Reverse-Seared Tomahawk Steaks with Blue Cheese ButterSteven Raichlen
If you’ve fired up the grill for the first recipe in this chapter (which I hope you’ve done), you know how to grill a T-bone steak. Now, here’s a recipe for the second of the so-called “noble” steaks—the rib steak—and in particular, in its most extravagant form: the beef tomahawk. Picture a monster 24-ounce steak cut from the rib roast with an extra long section of rib bone attached. It doesn’t take much imagination to see a tomahawk. Imagine biting into beef that, on account of the veins of fat that surround it, tastes even richer and more luscious than a T-bone or filet (the third “noble” steak, see page 122). When meat is this extraordinary, you want to keep the preparation simple—good coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper, and wood smoke—with a disk of unctuous blue cheese butter melting into the meat for the ultimate richness.
Reverse-Seared Tomahawk Steaks with Blue Cheese Butter
- Active Prep: 10 minutes, plus 5 minutes for the blue cheese butter and 1 hour for chilling
- Grill Time: 70 minutes
- Yield: Serves 4 normal people as part of a full meal or 2 really hungry carnivores
- Method: Reverse-searing (indirect grilling followed by direct grilling)
- Equipment: Reverse-searing can be done over charcoal or gas, but you’ll get a more pronounced smoke flavor over charcoal. You also need 2 hardwood chunks or 1½ cups wood chips (the latter soaked in water to cover for 30 minutes, then drained); aluminum foil to keep the ends of the rib bones from burning; an instant-read or remote digital thermometer; and a wire rack set over a sheet pan.
For the Blue Cheese Butter
- 2 ounces of your favorite blue cheese (see Tip below), at room temperature
- 5 tablespoons salted butter, at room temperature
- 1 tablespoon minced fresh flat-leaf parsley
For the Steaks
- Vegetable oil for oiling the grill grate
- 2 beef “tomahawks” (bone-in rib-eyes, preferably dry-aged, each about 1½ pounds and 2 inches thick)
- Coarse salt (sea or kosher) and coarsely and freshly ground black pepper
Step 1: Make the blue cheese butter: Place the cheese in a mixing bowl and mash it to a paste with a fork. Stir in the butter and parsley. Alternatively, place the ingredients in a food processor and process until creamy and smooth.
Step 2: Place a 12-inch-square piece of plastic wrap on your work surface and mound the butter in the center. Roll it up into a 1-inch-thick cylinder, twisting the ends of the wrap to compact the butter. Refrigerate or freeze until firm, about 1 hour. The butter will keep for at least 5 days in the refrigerator or up to 3 months in the freezer. You can prepare it ahead of time. The butter is also excellent atop burgers, asparagus, potatoes, or other grilled or smoke-roasted vegetables.
Step 3: Set up your grill for indirect grilling and heat to medium-low. Brush or scrape the grill grate clean and oil it well. Add wood chunks or chips to the fire.
Step 4: Generously season the steaks on both sides with salt and pepper. Arrange the tomahawks on the grill grate away from the heat. Close the lid and smoke-roast the steaks to an internal temperature of about 105°F on a digital remote thermometer or instant-read thermometer. This will take 40 to 60 minutes.
Step 5: Transfer the steaks to a wire rack set over a sheet pan and let them rest for 10 minutes. Meanwhile, set up your grill for direct grilling and heat to high.
Step 6: Arrange the tomahawk steaks over the hottest part of the grill grate, running diagonal to the bars. Direct grill until both sides are sizzling, browned, and crusty, 2 to 4 minutes per side. You want a final internal temperature of 120° to 125°F for rare; 130° to 135°F for medium-rare; or 140° to 145°F for medium. If the exposed parts of the rib bones start to burn, slide a folded sheet of aluminum foil under them.
Step 7: Transfer the tomahawks to a platter or plates and top each with disks of blue cheese butter. Serve while the butter is still melting into the meat.
One of the best ways to grill a monster-thick steak, like a beef tomahawk, is to use a technique called “reverse-searing.” In a nutshell, you indirect grill the steak over low heat to cook it to an internal temperature of around 105°F, then sear it over high heat to crust the exterior. This offers two other advantages: You get to smoke the steak before grilling it, and you can serve it sizzling hot off the grill.
SHOP: The beef tomahawk is the ultimate luxury steak—you’ll likely need to special-order it from a high-end butcher or online meat company. Ask for tomahawks cut from the loin end of a rib roast—they’re more tender than steaks cut from the chuck end. As for blue cheese, I’m partial to an incredible smoked blue from the Rogue Creamery in Central Point, Oregon, but French Roquefort, Spanish Cabrales, German Cambozola, or Italian Gorgonzola make equally distinctive steak butters, too.
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