Tuesday, December 27, 2016

Reverse Seared Tomahawk Steaks on the Grill

At what point does a "steak" become a "roast"?

That's just a rhetorical question for fun, not a discussion of semantics.  But if you put these two ribeye steaks together, they would be a two-bone, 4.5 pound prime rib roast.  

How to grill super thick steaks

When I cook normal sized ribeye steaks, ones a little bigger than an inch thick, I prefer to grill them over direct heat about 4 1/2 minutes per side.  But when I have thicker steaks, in excess of 1.5 inches thick, I take a different approach in terms of seasoning, cooking, and serving.
  • Seasoning the Steak - I go bigger for a bolder flavor.  With a bigger steak, you have more unseasoned internal meat than seasoned surface meat, kind of like with a roast. So I use coarse rubs to get bigger bursts of flavor.  For my salt, I'll go with David's Kosher salt because it seems to have bigger flakes of salt than the Morton's Kosher that I use day in/day out.  For black pepper, I like a 16 mesh sized Malabar or Tellicherry black pepper (those are types, not brands).  
  • Cooking the Steak- Direct heat is fine for steaks in the 1" neighborhood. But "big ol' honkin' steaks" do best with combination cooking techniques, like reverse sear, sous vide, or sear/roast.  This goes for ribeyes, NY strip steaks, or beef filet.  The slower roast or sous vide cooking gradually brings the entire mass of beef to the appropriate temp while the sear puts that flavorful crust on the outside.
  • Serving the Steak - Steaks this thick are meant for sharing.  Sure, competitive eaters and freaks of nature can eat a 72 ounce steak(Saw this place on TV.  Our friend, Larry went there...he did not attempt the challenge.  Don't blame him.).  But for most of us, 8 ounces of steak is plenty.  With massive steaks, treat them as a roast, slice, and share. 
More semantics - difference between a "cowboy ribeye" and a "tomahawk steak"? I think of a cowboy ribeye as a bone in ribeye steak, with the eye, lip, and cap intact. The bone is usually about as short as the steak.  The tomahawk is also a bone in ribeye but it has a longer portion of the bone but to really resemble a tomahawk, it should just have the eye portion of the ribeye (cap and lip removed).  So these have the full bone handle but also have the cap and lip still attached....maybe they are more of a meat axe than a tomahawk steak?  Ha!  

Enough talking about beef, let's eat it.  Here is how I prepared these two tomahawk ribeyes.  

Bone in ribeye recipe, how to cook bone in ribeye, thick steak tips.
I used my NMT Beef Rub recipe, shown before grinding here. It's black peppercorns, green peppercorns, coarse smoked salt, dried shallots, dried garlic, and dried bell peppers. 

Tips, tricks, and how to for cooking large thick steaks perfectly
I rubbed the steaks with peanut oil and then the coarse ground beef rub. Notice the rack. I try to avoid putting meat on a flat surface after I have rubbed it because a good portion of the rub will stick to the flat surface when you lift the steaks.

I was using a ceramic kamado grill for this cook.  Here are a few set ups you can use for indirect heat on those grills. They all work effectively, it's just a matter of using what you have on hand.

Indirect cooking grilling on kamado grills like Big Green Egg, Primo Grills, Kamado Joe and Vision
Clockwise from upper left. Cast iron plate setter and standard Big Green Egg grate. Pizza stone, Raiser rig, and a Craycort cast iron grate (section removed for visibility only). Pizza stone, Grill Dome indirect rig, and Grill Dome grate.  Pizza stone, spider rig, and standard Big Green Egg grate.

Grill Dome is a brand of ceramic kamado grills.  Others include Big Green Egg, Primo Grills, Kamado Joe and Vision Grills. Thermoworks ChefAlarm pictured
This time, I had a strategy for my set up. I used a Grill Dome, cast iron plate setter (inverted), and the Grill Dome extender above that.  This gave me 2 advantages. First and foremost, I wanted to use the griddle surface of the cast iron plate setter to get a deep crust like a pan seared steak but with grilled taste. Second, this way I don't have to bother taking a hot pizza stone or plate setter out of the grill before I sear.

How to perfectly grill extra thick steaks, including ribeye steak, beef filet, and NY strip steaks
Steaks on! I used straight lump coal, I didn't need any additional smoke for my preferences.  I was cooking at 250°f (as measured at the dome thermometer) and it took a wee bit over 1 hour and 10 minutes to hit 128°f.  
Thermoworks remote probe thermometer has a max temp feature making it great to know when temps are falling
Two points. Notice the rack - again with the flat surfaces. If you put hot meat on a flat surface you are trapping heat and creating a steaming effect. That will loosen the tissues and allow the meat juices to seep out.  Second point - you need to let the steaks to finish their carry over cooking.  The internal temp should rise about 5-7°f  and then start falling.  That way, you know the cooking energy is depleted and quick searing it won't raise the internal temp more than 1°f.

While the meat rested, I opened up my vents and brought the cooking temp to 600°f  Then I seared the steaks for about 1 minute per side.  If I wasn't using my cast iron plate setter, I would just sear it on a grate directly over coals for about the same time.

As soon as the steaks finished, I put a red chile compound butter on them so the butter would melt.

Compound butters add a next level of flavor to your grilled meats.
Served with Alexis' pinto beans and Chef Travis Wilson's "tater tots" (Chef at Blue Wahoo Stadium).  Boiled fingerling potatoes, smashed and coated with panko bread crumbs, Parmesan cheese, and seasonings.  Then you deep fry them and hit with more Parmesan while piping hot for the best tater tots you've ever had.

Techniques for perfectly grilled steaks and best steaks for grilling.

The steaks were perfect for us! The crust was richly flavored, the butter luscious, and the insides perfectly cooked to tender, medium rare from edge to edge.

[FTC Disclaimer]  I received no compensation for this post. Craycort and Innovations by Chance/Smokeware are equipment sponsors.