Monday, January 4, 2021

Reverse-Seared Tomahawk Ribeye on the Big Green Egg

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We started off 2021 with a thick, juicy tomahawk ribeye steak that I dry-brined and then reverse-seared on one of my large Big Green Eggs. 

How I Reverse Sear Tomahawk ribeye steaks on the Big Green Egg kamado grill
Tomahawk ribeye steak with Worcestershire and shallot salt.

Being quite thick, there is a lot of meat that doesn't get touched by seasoning during cooking, so after slicing this behemoth steak, I seasoned it with homemade Worcestershire and shallot salt. A good finishing salt like this makes the flavor pop.

This isn't a recipe post; it's more about the process. Here's what we did on New Year's Day.

I bought my tomahawk ribeye steak at Food City in Knoxville
Justin, the manager of the meat market at my Food City, helped me pick out this pretty 3.3-pound tomahawk ribeye from the service counter. Before weighing it out, he guessed the price and was only off by $0.41. I was impressed.

Dry brining a tomahawk ribeye steak will make it more flavorful and keep it juicy.
According to Kenji Lopez-Alt's book, dry-brining helps flavor the beef and changes the cellular structure to retain juices better. I lightly coated the steak with peanut oil and seasoned it heavily with my NMT Umami Steak Seasoning (recipe). I didn't measure it, but I would guess 2-3 tablespoons.

Loosely cover your meat when dry brining
At the beginning of the dry-brine process, the seasoning will draw out moisture from the meat. But after about an hour, the balance changes, and osmosis begins to pull the now seasoned moisture back into the meat. Therefore it is important to loosely cover the steak while in the fridge to keep the arid fridge air from evaporating the liquid before it pulls back in. I typically shoot for a 6-8 hour brine time, but I let it ride for 18 hours for this thick boy.

After the brine, I will often freshen up the seasoning with a layer of finely ground NMT Umami Steak Seasoning or another beef rub. I also spritz it with high-temperature cooking oil to promote browning.

Cooking set up for a tomahawk ribeye steak on the Big Green Egg kamado grill
My set up for the indirect portion was: Kick Ash Basket full of lump charcoal lit with a JJGeorge Grill Torch. I used a cast-iron plate setter for the indirect heat shield and Craycort cast-iron grates. I used a Thermoworks Smoke (affiliate link) remote probe thermometer for monitoring the internal temperature of the steak. I had the Big Green Egg running at 250°f.

Using the Thermoworks Thermapen to double check the remote probe thememometer.
I wanted to pull the steak when it reached an internal temperature of 125°f so it would coast into the 130-135°f range for medium-rare. But when the first alarm went off at 125°f, the second probe was reading 9 degrees less. I was concerned, so I got a third opinion from Alexis' Thermoworks Thermapen. I probed between the other two probes, and it confirmed the steak was ready to rest.

The rest period is critical. According to the reverse sear process originator, you need to let the steak max out its carryover cooking and let the internal temperature fall by a degree or two. Basically, you are trying to stop the energy train and get the internal cooking to stop. That way, you can sear away without worrying about driving your internal temp up. I find that a remote with a Max Temp data logging feature is wonderful for tracking that. Here, you can see the top probe maxed out at 133f and has started to fall while the lower probe has not yet. Three of my Thermoworks remote probes have this feature (ChefAlarm, Smoke, ThermaQ), but the DOT does not.

It was a cold rainy evening, so I was grateful to have the Smoke Receiver to see what was going on with the temps from the comfort of my living room.

It takes about 15 minutes for a thick steak to max out the carryover cooking, which is just the right amount of time to switch the grill over to direct heat for the searing part and get the cooking temperature up to about 450-500°f. You can sear directly on the grill grate, but today, I used one of my cast iron griddles to get a good crust all the way across the surface.

The sear typically takes about 1 minute per side, but I go by color.


Close up of the Worcestershire and shallot salt. I love this stuff for giving steaks a big flavor boost without masking the taste of the beef.

The traditional NYE meal is pork, but I like steak better, don't you? We did include the traditional cornbread, collard greens, and black-eyed peas, though. Excuse the quick snapshot of my plate but I was more interested in eating than taking pictures.

Happy New Year to you all!