Grilling and Reverse Searing a Bison Tomahawk Steak
The Bearded Butchers share their recipe for an amazing, juicy, flavorful steak.
There are lots of techniques people use to create wonderful flavors and textures when grilling. A popular way to cook a steak right now is the reverse sear method. This fancy term is actually a really easy way to get a perfect medium rare steak with that delightful, crunchy, crispy exterior that only high-heat creates.
Why Sear Steak?
The purpose of searing a steak is to lock in the juiciness. When a steak is properly seared, it'll stay tender and flavorful. Beyond that, a properly seared steak has a crisp texture that protects the meat from drying out.
Searing can be done on a hot grill griddle, or a cast iron pan. If you haven't tried searing your steak before grilling, give it a shot. You'll get much better results from your steak when cooking.
What's the Difference Between Sear and Reverse Sear?
Searing is done before the meat is cooked. It's often done in a preheated cast iron skillet. The idea is to quickly char the outside of the meat without significantly increasing the internal temperature. The downside of searing is that it can cause the meat to cook too quickly, leaving you with a very attractive steak that is dry and tough.
The reverse sear method allows the grill master to get the steak cooked to a perfect temperature before searing. First, the meat must be cooked at low temperatures to get it to rare. Then, the steak is removed and placed on a really hot surface briefly on each side. The searing action locks in the moisture and flavor and also creates that beautiful texture on the outside of your steak. A properly reverse seared steak will look, cut, and taste amazing. Cooking a steak perfectly using the reverse sear method isn't difficult. Follow along as we get on the grill and show you the easy way to reverse sear steak like a professional.
Picking Your Steak
We are going to use a fantastic cut today – a bone-in rib steak called a tomahawk steak. The tomahawk steak we are going to be reverse searing is from a bison we raised and harvested right here at Whitefeather Meats. Bison is a leaner red meat than beef, and it's a perfect meat for reverse sear cooking.
At home, you can use pretty much any thick-cut steak. Look for at least an inch-and-a-half thick porterhouse, ribeye, T-bone, or a filet mignon. If your steak is too thin, it'll cook really fast, and instead of reverse searing, it'll overcook.
Prepping to Sear a Steak
We are going to use our Big Green Egg today to cook the steak. We want the temperature fairly low, in this case about 225 to 250 degrees. With our Egg, we are going to use the convector plate to provide indirect heat. We are going to cook the steak low and slow until it reaches the correct internal temperature, then we will sear the steak on high heat, all on our Big Green Egg. One of the fun things you can do with a Kamado-style grill is experiment with different hardwoods. For instance, today we are using Sweet Maple from Rockwood for cooking our steak.
You will want to take the steak out of the refrigerator and let it warm up a little. You don't want to start a cold steak because it will take too long to bring the temperature of the steak up and it will overcook.
Seasoning the Steak
When we set our steak out earlier, we seasoned the top side with the Bearded Butchers Original Blend Seasoning. It's one of our favorites for lots of reasons, but in this case, the reverse searing will make magic happen through a process called the Maillard Reaction. What happens is a complex interaction of the amino acids and sugars in both the meat and the seasoning will combine and chemically change forms at high temperature. The Maillard Reaction is what creates that crisp texture on the outside of a steak. Feel free to get creative with your seasonings. A little salt and pepper is really all a good steak needs, but cooking with our seasoning bends will enhance even the very best steak on the planet.
Place the steak seasoning side down on the hot grill, then season the rest of the surfaces. Reverse searing steak will lock in flavors and enhance the meat, so you want to get all the surfaces covered with seasoning.
While it's fine to use a standard instant read meat thermometer, one of the handiest tools in a grillmasters arsenal is a wireless meat thermometer. It's a simple tool that just changes the whole process of cooking on a grill or smoker for the better. All you have to do is insert the end of the metal probe into the thickest part of the meat, close the lid, and set the thermometer readout somewhere visible and you'll always know the internal temperature of your meat without opening the grill. A meat thermometer takes the guesswork out of cooking a perfect medium rare reverse sear.
Cooking the Steak
Keep your grill cooking temperature as consistent as possible, about 225 to 250 degrees, until the internal temperature of the steak reaches about 110 to 115 degrees. If we were to stop cooking the steak at this point, it'd be rare. Instead, we are going to set the steak aside for a minute and increase the temperature on the Big Green Egg. Once the convector plate is removed, we can open up the vents and get a good flame going. Now, we are ready to reverse sear a steak on our Big Green Egg.
You are going to be looking for a grill temperature somewhere around 600 degrees. At this temperature, cast iron or stainless grills will create those beautiful sear marks you are always trying to make happen. Once your grill is there, simply set the steak on the grill and close the lid. Don't walk off, though, you are only going to reverse sear the steak two or three minutes before flipping it. When you get an internal temperature of about 135 degrees, you know the steak is a perfect medium rare and it's time to pull it off the grill and let it rest for 15 minutes.. That's all it takes to reverse sear steak on the grill. It's an easy way to cook a great medium rare steak that tastes amazing and has picture-perfect sear marks.
If your grill isn't good for switching to high temperatures, you can always pull the steak and reverse sear in a cast iron steak searing pan. It works great, especially when you don't want to wait for your grill to get up to a high temperature.
Slice and Serve your Reverse Sear Steak
The best way to serve a steak like this is to slice it into medium thick sections. We recommend a good boning knife, like the Victorinox 6" boning knife we use in ourselves. Slicing the steak shows off how perfect a reverse sear looks. You get the full effect of the low-and-slow indirect heat cooking medium rare inside and the beautiful crust on the exterior. A reverse sear steak won't have that gray line along the exterior like searing typically does. That's because the reverse sear doesn't overcook the steak.
That's all there is to cooking the perfect medium rare tomahawk steak. It's really a simple recipe that lets you use some of the skills from grilling and smoking to sear a steak to 5-star excellence. If you would like to see how our recipe looks, check scroll to the bottom of this post for our YouTube video – it's so good, you can even hear God's stomach rumble at the very end.
Reverse Sear Tomahawk Steak Recipe
- Thick-cut steak
- Bearded Butcher Blend Seasoning
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Bring your grill to a steady temperature of 225-250 degrees
- Sprinkle salt and pepper and seasoning blend on all sides of the steak, then place on grill
- Close lid and slow cook until internal temperature reaches 110-115 degrees
- Remove steaks and increase temperature of grill to 550+ degrees
- Place steaks on hot grill, cooking both sides for 2-3 minutes until internal temperature reaches 135 degrees for a medium rare
- Rest the steak for 10-15 minutes before slicing and serving
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