Hello again. It’s been a while, hasn’t it? In case you don’t actually know me in person, I require steady employment to pay for all of the food I consume and the impulse cooking items I purchase. That employment is management at a certain consumer electronics chain that happens to be very busy during the months of November and December, leaving John little to no time to eat good food and tell you about it. Well, if you haven’t noticed it’s January so it’s time to get this thing going again.
Once the holiday shopping season is over I always like to do something ridiculous to celebrate some actual time at home. These months are filled with long hours, aching feet and a lack of sleep. I hadn’t even gotten to think about what it was going to be this year when some co-workers presented me a gigantic 3.5 pound tomahawk rib-eye steak. You might think this is kind of weird that someone would buy me a steak for Christmas but if you think that then you obviously do not know me. I have had my eye on this type of steak for months now and my dream of being able to cook and consume it had finally come true.
So what is this beautiful, somewhat phallic looking, piece of meat? A tomahawk steak is a cut of ribeye that has five or more onches of bone left on. There is argument on whether or not the bone is simply left for presentation purposes or if it adds a different complexity of flavor. I’m on the team that believes that cooking anything while still on the bone creates better flavor. If you would like a more scientific breakdown, I’ll leave that to J. Kenji Lopez-Alt. I also think a gigantic bone sticking out of a gigantic cut of steak creates an experience unattainable by flavor alone. Either way, cooking and eating anything on the bone is just more fun.
So how does one cook a monster like this? The ideal method is using a vessel that can give you the highest heat possible — a grill, broiler, or stovetop/oven combination. With a steak this thick you need both a way to sear the outside but also leave the middle at a perfect 129 degrees F. If you eat your steaks well done and/or with ketchup, do everyone a favor and don’t purchase or eat steaks like this. PETA will visit your house and demand to know why you insist on disrespecting animals. What I did was shrink wrap it, cooked it in water and then seared it. If you’re confused by that method, let me explain.
There are these wonderful contraptions called Immersion Circulators that will cook anything you want to the exact temperature that you want. Perfect medium rare every single time. It’s completely idiot proof and requires little to no technique. Sounds great, right? To make this really simple, immersion circulators maintain a constant temperature in a vessel of water that allows whatever food is in it to rise and continue at that temperature for as long as you want. There is zero risk of over cooking your food and all of the flavor and juice is locked in. You might be asking yourself right now, isn’t that essentially boiling a steak over hard and should I add a side of jelly beans? Well, yes, but the addition of either a sealed Ziploc bag or a vacuum sealer prevents contact of any water with your food. It’s essentially the easiest and most reliable way to cook a steak of this size. The technique is known as Sous Vide, or translated from French as under vacuum.
Now a little side note on flavor — A cow gave you a gift and the last thing you should do is blatantly disrespect that cow with some kind of Worcestershire or a liquid marinade. Liberally salt both sides and crack some fresh peppercorns on top. That’s it. No other flavoring agents are needed. Steak is meant to be tasted, not be an accompanying flavor to your seasonings and marinades. If you’re purchasing a quality cut of meat you’re paying for the process that went into raising that cow that developed the flavor. MOST IMPORTANTLY, DO NOT ALLLOW A1 OR KETCHUP ANYWHERE NEAR YOUR STEAK!
Moving on, so I like my steaks cooked to 129 degrees — the exact temperature of medium rare. If i was cooking on a grill I could use a thermometer probe to attempt to reach and finish at this temperature but using Sous Vide I seal my steak up in a vacuum sealed bag, set the temperature to 129 degrees and two hours later my steak will sit at that temperature until I’m ready to finish it. Some call this cheating, and I completely agree, but again there is no better way to guarantee that internal temperature of a steak. I could sear both sides on cast iron and then finish it in the oven but what’s the point? After two months of selling TVs, getting yelled at and cleaning up after people I’m ready for the cooking to be done for me. My immersion circulator also has WiFi functionality so it lets me know when the temperature is hit and when the cook is done. It’s the ultimate in meat cooking laziness.
After two hours, the steak is almost done. I say almost, because your steak has absolutely no color coming out of the water bath. There is no crispy edge and no crunch, which is why Sous Vide isn’t completely perfect. Cooking meat this way requires a quick sear on ALL sides to ensure that you don’t have a boiled mess on your plate. The internals of this steak are absolutely delicious but would you serve that steak to anyone? Gross. Use a smoking hot skillet with a nub of butter, while also making sure that you are searing the edges to render any fat. I like to use clarified butter, which has a much higher smoke point than regular butter, to avoid filling my entire house with smoke. My wife gets unhappy when I do that. I want to reiterate for a third time searing all sides of the steak is integral to making a perfect steak. On thing Sous Vide will not do is render fat. If you do not sear correctly, you will be left with large sections of fat in your steak.
AND HOLY MOSES WHAT A STEAK. I carved the bone off, poured a glass of high rye whiskey and sat at the table by myself at 11:30 at night eating a 3 pound ribeye and watched The Punisher. It was the perfect ending of another holiday season and the manliest thing I have done in years. Before I sign off on this post though, I must show you the kind of cook you get using Sous Vide. See how the rare cook goes edge to edge and just the edges are seared? Without some serious experience and technique it is next to impossible for a home cook to achieve that kind of cook. With Sous Vide, it’s almost impossible to not. Sorry if you think this is too rare, but you’re wrong.
So shout out to Henry and Tiffany for the hookup on this monster steak and shout out to Anova for making a really great contraption that allowed me to cook this steak like that. I’m not getting paid to mention them here, I just want to give respect where it’s due. If you’re thinking about getting into the whole Sous Vide game I can’t recommend it enough. The WiFi Anova I use is only $129 but you can find some models for a slow as $79. I also used it shortly after this to cook a whole filet for my entire family which allowed me to enjoy Christmas and not worry about the internal temperature of a very expensive cut of beef.