These are simply rib eye steaks cut on each side of the bone with the “handles” still attached. It ends up looking like a tomahawk and thus the name was born.
You won't likely see these in your local grocery store but the butcher will cut them this way for you if you ask.
As with any good beef steak, it's a great idea to dry brine them before serving. I've talked about this on many occasions but it's worth repeating.
Dry brining introduces salt to the interior of the steak. You sprinkle it on the top, it draws steak juices to the surface where it mixes with the salt to create a slurry. The salty liquid is then pulled into the steak and that's all there is to it!
To dry brine, you simply lay the steaks flat down, sprinkle them with coarse kosher salt and place them in the fridge for an hour or two. The thicker the steak, the longer I like to leave them.
I don't usually measure it but rather eyeball it however, professional chefs recommend ½ teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat. These tomahawks normally weigh in at about 2 lbs each so about 1 teaspoon of kosher salt should do it if you want to measure. Since we'll do both sides, you can do ½ teaspoon per side.
These are about 2.5 inches thick so I recommend 2 hours on each side for best results.
Place the meat onto a Bradley rack or cooling rack placed over a large pan to catch any liquid that might drip off and then into the fridge for 2 hours.
At the end of 2 hours, remove the meat from the fridge, flip it over and repeat the dry brining process on the reverse side then back into the fridge for another 2 hours.
Please note, the steak will not be salty and there is no need to rinse. It's enough salt to really bring out the flavor but it won't be overly salty at all.
It's now ready to be seasoned and cooked.
My Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) is a perfect combination of salt and pepper with additional spices that compliment the beef and bring out the very best in it. Fortunately, it doesn't have a lot of salt so you can use it in moderation with the dry brining and still not oversalt the meat. You'll see what I mean once you use it.
Apply a little olive oil to the top and sides of the tomahawk steaks.
Sprinkle the Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) onto the top of the steak and rub it in/spread it around with your hands. Pull some of it onto the sides of the steak as well.
Flip the steaks over and do the same Texas style rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub) seasoning on the reverse side.
The steaks are now ready for the smoker.
Set up the smoker for cooking at about 225°F with indirect heat. If your smoker has a water pan, fill it with water.
I used a mix of pecan and cherry wood for smoke. Any good smoking wood will work fine.
Once the smoker is ready, place the steaks directly on the smoker grate.
Let the steaks smoke cook until they reach an internal meat temperature of 100-110°F, I highly recommend using a leave-in thermometer such as the “Smoke” by Thermoworks to monitor the temperature while the steaks cook. You can also just watch them very carefully and use a Thermapen to check the temperature every 30 minutes or so. Once it gets close, you'll need to check it more often.
This should take about 1.5 hours at 225°F.
Before the steaks are finished cooking, fire up the grill or even a charcoal chimney starter so you can reverse sear these once they have reached the target temperature of 100-110°F.
Note: You can also reverse sear these on both sides in the oven under the broiler if that is easier or the only option you have available. Be sure to place the steaks on a pan to prevent grease from dripping onto the bottom of the oven.
Once again, monitor the temperature carefully using a leave-in thermometer such as the “Smoke” by Thermoworks or by using a quick reading digital thermometer such as the Thermapen.
Once the steaks are the color you like and have reached your desired level of doneness (medium rare or less is best) remove them from the heat immediately.
I usually shoot for 130°F based on my family's preference.
Sit the finished steaks on the cabinet top with foil tented over it for about 10 minutes to rest. This allows the juices in the meat to redistribute throughout the entire steak.
Slice the meat into thin pieces that are about ¼ inch thick or the thickness of a pencil. (I somehow failed to get pictures of the glorious edge to edge medium rare that was produced in the smoker.. it was so beautiful I had tears in my eyes!)
Well, don't just stand there.. let the hungry crowd dig in!