These Cowboy Ribeye Steaks, or in this case thick cut bone-in Ribeye steaks, are packed with incredible flavor and great for feeding a crowd. Find out how to cook this impressive looking steak perfect every time to truly wow your guests!
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We all love a great steak dinner! And these days there are so many fantastic cuts to choose from. Ribeye steaks are always a winner at our house, but there is some terminology to be aware of these days when finding the perfect steak for your taste buds and party needs!
Cowboy Steak versus a Tomahawk Steak? What’s the difference?
What part of the cow is a Tomahawk or Cowboy Steak? Let’s demystify something for a second. Cowboy steaks are typically a bone-in thick cut Ribeye. A Tomahawk is synonymous with Cowboy Ribeye but depending on where you buy it, the rib bone may be much shorter on the Cowboy cut. The bones on a Tomahawk, for example, tend to be 5 inches or more in length.
Pro Tip: When choosing between Tomahawk or a shorter bone-in Ribeye, go with the shorter thick bone-in Ribeye. The long bone looks awesome, don’t get me wrong(!), but you do end up paying for that extra weight in the end.
How to Prepare a Cowboy Ribeye or Tomahawk Steak
Simple kosher salt and pepper in equal parts is a simple way to season. We love to enhance the flavor profile of these steaks by using a coffee and chili based rub. The addition of coffee flavor is subtle and we use fresh (not used) finely ground coffee.
- Season the steak an hour or two before you cook it. You can do it the night before, but seriously, who plans that far ahead?
- If Grilling only, let the seasoned steak come to room temperature.
- If Smoking or Reverse Searing you can put the seasoned cut right onto the smoker from the fridge.
How to Grill a Cowboy or Tomahawk Steak
We use the reverse sear method for Ribeye. This is especially true for thick cuts of meat, because simply grilling can be a challenge with flare ups. More importantly, adding a smoke flavor element to the steak is simply amazing, and not much extra work. Using the reverse sear method on these thick steaks will ensure the meat is cooked to your preferred temperature every time. We love the Thermoworks thermometer products for all things around here.
You can read more about reverse sear here. But simply put, reverse sear is:
- Smoking the meat at a low temperature
- Searing to get the crust until your final desired internal temperature
- Resting to allow the juices to redistribute
How to Slice a Bone-In Ribeye Steak
When slicing a bone-in ribeye, especially a Cowboy Ribeye:
- Important: Let the meat rest at least 15 minutes to let the meat finish cooking and to allow the juices to settle in the meat.
- Slice along the Bone
- Slice against the grain perpendicular to the bone (you can move the bone so you have the freedom to cut) in pencil width slices
The best way to finish the steak is with a compound butter.
Herb Compound Butter
One of our favorite ways to finish a steak is to add a dollop of compound butter. The easiest way to make a compound butter for steaks, especially this recipe, is simply use room temperature butter, and then your favorite diced herbs, garlic, and salt. You can make in advance and have in the fridge ready to go. Our ratio:
- 4 Tablespoons Room Temperature Unsalted Butter
- ½ Tablespoon Finely Diced Fresh Rosemary
- 1 Clove Finely Diced or Minced Garlic
- ½ Teaspoon Kosher Salt
It’s that easy. Combine the ingredients together, mix, and then portion as desired. We’ll add about 2 tablespoons of the butter per steak given how big they are.
We add the butter while the steak is resting.
Recipe for Cowboy Ribeye or Tomahawk Steak
- Preheat smoker to 250 degrees Fahrenheit (F) using fruit wood. We like apple or cherry.
- While the smoker preheats, coat the steaks with 1 tablespoon of oil then season the two Cowboy Ribeyes with dry rub liberally.
- Place the steaks on the smoker, and insert a meat probe if you have one. Smoke for approximately 90 minutes or until the internal temperature of the meat reaches 115 – 120 degrees F. Remove the steaks from smoker and prepare for direct/indirect grilling.
- Once the grill is hot, place steak over direct heat and keep lid closed. This will minimize flare ups as the fat runs onto coals by minimizing airflow. Grill each side for additional 3 – 5 minutes or until you see desired crust. If there are big flare ups or the grill runs hotter, sear each side and move to indirect heat to finish to desired temperature. We like 125 degrees F for rare.
- Let the meat rest, and add 1 tablespoon of compound butter to the top, and let the meat rest for 15 minutes uncovered, while the butter melts, and then slice to serve with your favorite sides.
Wine Pairing for Grilled Ribeye Steaks
Cooking Ribeyes using a reverse sear method like this one, allows the steak to soak in those sweet wood flavors, and then finishing hot and fast to sear the exterior and attain the flavor crust. This method opens your options up to some fun bold wines. Ribeye also maintain a good fat to meat ratio, which means it’s safe to go with something a little tannic (the fat will soften the wine’s tannins).
Something big and smoky works for this king of steak. Cabernet Sauvignon is a standard and great go-to for this cut. A bolder style Merlot also works well. But this where you can open that Barolo or Sagrantino di Montefalco that you’ve been saving for the right occasion!
Want to know where to get Cowboy Ribeye or Tomahawk Steaks? You can get at most box stores and specialty grocers. Call ahead to be sure they have them. We get and love our beef and pork from Snake River Farms. They are based and source in the Pacific Northwest, as well as have Double R ranch for Prime.
Sides Dishes Perfect for Cowboy Ribeyes
With any great cut of beef, like these steaks, add the perfect side to complement the flavor. Below are a few of our stand out sides for Cowboy Ribeyes:
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