The tomahawk steak may originate in America, but they are fast becoming more and more popular over here in the U.K. If you've not had the pleasure of seeing a tomahawk steak up close, then you've almost certainly seen one on Facebook or Instagram, and if you're not sure whether you've ever seen one at all, then you probably haven't. Their unusual appearance makes them hard to forget, and also super shareable on social media. Sometimes referred to as a 'Flinstones' steak (you do feel like a cave man when you're eating one), the tomahawk got its name because of its resemblance to the tomahawk axe, which is fairly obvious once you've seen one.
The Tomahawk steak is taken from the fore-rib, and cut with the centre rib bone left in. The rib bone is left as long as possible and French trimmed for presentation. This is what gives the tomahawk it's unique appearance, making it a very memorable dining experience and also one which you'll want to share with your friends. Hence their popularity on social media. The tomahawk is a rib steak, so like a ribeye, is well marbled and with a generous amount of inner fat, giving it a real delicious depth of flavour. Tomahawks usually weigh in at over 1KG each, meaning they make a great sharing steak for a special occasion, or a romantic meal, as there's easily enough to feed two people. If you're a fan of ribeye steak, and you love the flavour of on-the-bone cuts, this is the steak for you.
A tomahawk steak is usually cut somewhere between 4 and 6 cm thick, this is because the thickness of the meat is dictated by the thickness of the rib bone. If the steak is any thinner, and the rib bone is cut down the centre, then this is technically known in the U.K. as a club steak.
What kind of meat is a tomahawk steak?
Tomahawk steaks are basically an on-the-bone beef ribeye steak.
What is the difference between a tomahawk steak and a ribeye?
A tomahawk steak is basically an on-the-bone ribeye steak with a long rib bone left on, mainly for presentation purposes. Although both steaks are cut from the fore-rib, the fact that the tomahawk is left on the bone may provide it with a different, much deeper flavour profile. It is called a tomahawk steak because of it's resemblance to a tomahawk axe.
Is a tomahawk steak the same as a cowboy steak?
Both the tomahawk and the cowboy steak are cut from the forerib, and are left, French trimmed, on the bone, so they are very similar. That being said, there are some differences. The cowboy steak has a much smaller bone left on, usually only a couple of inches, compared to the tomahawk, which is usually around 5 or more inches. Furthermore, the cowboy steak is usually cut through the centre of the rib bone, meaning it's a much thinner steak than the tomahawk, which is always cut to the full thickness of the rib bone.
What is so special about a tomahawk steak?
Tomahawk steaks are special because of their unique shape and size. They are basically a ribeye steak left on the bone. The bone is left long and French trimmed for presentation, which makes the steak look like a tomahawk axe, hence it's name. What's also special about the tomahawk is it's size, they are usually at least 1KG in weight, which makes them perfect for sharing, and thus usually eaten at special, celebratory (even romantic?) occasions.
What is the best way to cook a tomahawk steak?
As the tomahawk is a rather thick cut steak, weighing somewhere between 1.000KG and 1.200KG, they are almost impossible to fry, especially with the long bone. The most common way to cook your tomahawk at home is in the oven. First wrap the exposed bone in foil, brush the steak with a little oil, season with salt and sear off the steak in a large frying pan on all sides for 3-4 minutes. Then transfer the steak to a roasting tin and cook in the centre of a preheated oven at gas mark 6/200C/fan 180°C/ for 15 minutes for rare, 20 minutes medium, and 25 - 30 minutes well done.
If you're cooking yours on a BBQ, or grill, wrap the bone in foil, season your steak, and cook until an internal temperature of approximately 60C is reached for rare, 70C for medium, and 80C for well done.
Whichever way you cook yours, please remember to remove your steak from packaging and rest at room temperature for 10 minutes before cooking. It is also imperative that you allow the meat to rest for at least 10 minutes after cooking. This allows the heat from the bone to distribute through the meat.
Why is the tomahawk steak expensive?
First of all, tomahawks are cut from the forerib, which is one of the most sought-after cuts of beef, due to it's flavour and tenderness. They are cut from the same muscle as a ribeye steak, which is usually a high cost, super popular steak.
The unique shape of the tomahawk also comes at a cost. When you leave the rib bone long, you actually sacrifice the beef ribs, including the flat ribs and short ribs, to the tomahawk steak. You can't sell them because they're left on the tomahawk, and beef ribs are actually a very popular cut. Furthermore, all that meat that was left on the rib bones is then French trimmed, meaning it's only use will probably be for mincing or for being made into burgers, which are usually low cost items. It also takes time for a trainer butcher to prepare and French trim the steak.
So, there's actually a lot of work going into your tomahawk. Furthermore they're usually somewhere between 1KG and 1.2KG in weight, which means there's easily enough for two people, and so are a great sharing steak for a special occasion. Not an everyday steak, but certainly worth it
If there's anything else you'd like to know about tomahawk steaks, or meat in general, please hit us up with any questions in the comments below, or tweet us using the hashtag '#AskTheButcher' and we'll do our best to answer all your questions.