Now synonymous with luxury, beef steak has been enjoyed for centuries, with so many different cuts offered, which vary around the world due to different butchering techniques. While still popular, so many people struggle to cook steak properly, or to a good quality, at least. Countless chefs have shared a selection of tips and techniques, yet every recipe will be different. Regardless of all criteria, there are a few essential steps for a perfect steak recipe. This tomahawk steak recipe shares and follows all of the tips and tricks needed to get it right every time.
Which cut is best?
In the UK, sirloin, rump, fillet, and rib-eye are the most popular steak cuts, though some less well-known cuts such as flat iron, bavette, and skirt have started to become more popular over the past five years or so – now available in most British supermarkets. While all cuts have their place, each particularly suitable for different dishes or occasions, rib-eye is arguably the most flavoursome of the main four. With high fat content, the rib-eye steak is significantly more flavoursome than exceptionally lean fillet. It’s also one of the more difficult to cook perfectly. The reason that so many will opt for a fillet isn’t necessarily based on a complete lack of taste, although so many do still believe that expense equates to quality; instead, they’ve probably had a bad experience with poorly rendered fat, which can be off putting. Fillet is thus a safer bet, but at the cost of flavour.
To cook a rib-eye perfectly, it’s important that the fat is rendered properly without overcooking the steak. Bone-in tomahawk steak is arguably easier to cook, as well as being an impressive dish to serve for a date night or at dinner parties (providing everyone likes their beef cooked to the same degree). Tomahawk steak is generally considered a more expensive option, seldom costing under £20 per kilogram (or considerably more depending on butcher, breed, or location), but with meal kits having become so popular since restaurants were first forced to close, an indulgent dinner that provides change from £30 seems fairly reasonable.
There’s also something satisfyingly primitive about cooking a large hunk of meat, and the tomahawk steak fittingly takes its nickname from the axe it resembles – also known as a cowboy steak, cote de boeuf, or simply bone-in ribeye. Although steaks are best cooked over an open fire or on the barbecue, it’s not an ideal method for everyday cooking. A perfect steak can be achieved indoors, however, following a number of crucial methods.
How to cook the best steak
While a tomahawk steak will take considerably longer to cook than smaller cuts, a screaming hot pan is an absolute essential for any steak, regardless of whether it’s cooked entirely in the pan, finished in the oven, or even reverse-seared. Cast iron or stainless steel pans are best for this. (Personally, I like to use a pan without non-stick coating, to help the steak take on a better crust). If you’re cooking more than one steak, it’s also crucial to avoid overcrowding the pan, cooking no more than two steaks in a big pan – although it’s best to cook just one in each pan.
Bringing the meat up to room temperature, taking it out of the fridge at least 30 minutes before cooking will also help the meat to cook more evenly, while seasoning with salt beforehand helps to retain moisture towards later on in the cooking process.
Basting with butter will also dramatically improve the flavour and texture. Herbs and garlic aren’t strictly necessary, but they infuse the butter and provide an easy way of enhancing the overall flavour.
Internal temperature is also crucial when cooking steak. A number of methods can be used to test how well-cooked the meat is without cutting or probing, but it’s worth investing in an instant-read thermometer. Anywhere between 130-135F (medium-rare) is ideal for a perfect tomahawk steak. Other levels of done-ness are as follows: rare 120-130F, medium rare 130-135F, medium 134-145F, medium-well 145-155F, well-done 155F and above.
Resting and serving your steak
Resting is also important, with 15 minutes or so best for a tomahawk. Don’t worry, the beef will not become cold. I’d also suggest seasoning with pepper at this stage, as pepper can easily burn in the pan and become bitter.
Once rested, carve your steak into finger-width slices or serve whole, accompanied by sides and a sauce of your choice – keep things simple or serve with extravagant steakhouse sides. I like to make a simple red wine and shallot sauce to pour over tomahawk steak, served with some tender stem broccoli and a simple potato dish, allowing the steak to really stand out.
Tomahawk steak recipe, with red wine and shallot sauce
- Oven-proof, heavy-based frying pan large enough for the steak (ideally a cast iron skillet)
- Shallow baking tray (if your pan isn’t oven-proof)
- Tomahawk steak approx. 1kg
- Salt and black pepper
- Vegetable / rapeseed oil or any cooking oil that can withstand a high heat
- 70 g Butter
- Woody herbs such as thyme or rosemary a small bunch
- 2-4 cloves Garlic to taste
For the shallot and red wine sauce
- 2-3 Shallots
- 2 cloves Garlic minced
- Cooking oil
- Salt and black pepper
- 2 stalks Thyme leaves picked
- 1 tbsp Sugar
- 500 ml Red wine
- 750 ml Beef stock
- 50 g Butter
- Double cream to taste (approx. 25ml)
- Before you start cooking, remove the steak from the fridge, season both sides with salt and leave for 30 minutes – an hour, to bring the steak up to room temperature. If the steak has a long strip of fat, make small incisions to help it render.
- Heat the pan until screaming hot, then brush or rub both sides of the steak with a little oil.
- Once hot, place the steak in the pan (dropping the meat away from you, to prevent any fat splash-back).
- Cook over a medium-high heat for around five minutes, leaving the steak completely undisturbed to build up good caramelisation, which ultimately creates that gorgeous crust you get in steakhouses.
- Once a good crust has formed, turn the steak and decrease the heat to low.
- Add 50g of the butter, herbs and garlic to the pan and constantly baste for a minute or two.
- Move the pan to the oven (or place the steak on a pre-heated baking tray with the butter and herbs) and cook for around 5-10 minutes. Insert an instant read thermometer into the thickest part of the beef, close to the bone. 130F is an ideal temperature for this cut (medium rare). Remove from the oven, or continue cooking for a more well-done steak (temperatures above).
- Remove the beef from the pan and rest for 15 minutes on a warmed plate with the butter and herbs. Also melt the rest of the butter and pour onto the steak.
- Once rested, serve whole or remove the bone and carve into finger-sized slices, cutting across the grain of the meat. Finish with a good pinch of salt and a generous amount of cracked black pepper.
To make the shallot and red wine sauce
- Finely dice the shallots and add to a sauce pan with a little oil, over a medium-low heat. Add a pinch of salt and sweat the shallots until translucent, being sure not to colour the shallots.
- Add two cloves of minced garlic and the thyme leaves, slightly increase the heat and cook for another minute, stirring constantly to prevent the garlic from burning.
- Add a tablespoon of sugar to the pan and continue to stir until the sugar dissolves and becomes slightly syrupy.
- Add the wine to the pan and increase the heat to high. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the wine has reduced by at least half and the alcohol smell has gone. Slowly pour 750ml beef stock into the pan, season with cracked black pepper and bring to a boil.
- Reduce the heat and simmer the sauce for 25-40 minutes, stirring only occasionally, until the sauce reaches your desired consistency. (If the sauce is still too thin when you’re ready to serve, increase the heat to high and try to avoid stirring, but keep an eye on it so the shallots don’t scorch).
- Once the desired consistency is reached, add the butter and stir until melted. Taste for seasoning (add more salt, pepper, or sugar if necessary), remove from the heat, and stir in a drizzle of the cream.