Demystifying the Tomahawk Steak with Lodge Cast Iron

12/8/2021 12:20:36 AM


By Brasas At The Table | Nov 2021

Weighing in around two to three pounds each, Tomahawks are one of the most rewarding cuts out there, but they’re also intimidating. In preparation for our High Steaks dinner event this December, we thought we’d do a deep dive into this particular cut. In demystifying the Tomahawk, we hope it becomes your new steakhouse favorite—one you can enjoy at your own table.

When cheffing up any of our Genesee Valley Ranch cuts, we look first to our ingredients (100% grass-fed Wagyu? Check! Perhaps a glass of wine to enjoy whilst in the kitchen? Of course!). Next, we look to our instruments. If you aren’t grilling your Tomahawk, it’s likely you are in the market for a pan large enough to fit this steak. Our particular favorite is the 17” Lodge Cast Iron pan. A tomahawk is essentially a generously thick-cut bone-in ribeye with a long rib handle. The 17” Lodge is the perfect size to cook such a generous steak—but size isn’t the only reason we prefer this pan. 

There’s a few tips and tricks you should have in hand before you start cooking the Tomahawk, and we’ve turned to two authorities on the subject. With help from Kris Stubblefield, Chef at Lodge Cast Iron, and Florencia Palmaz, CEO of Palmaz Vineyards and resident expert at Brasas At The Table, we hope to make the Tomahawk steak more accessible to chefs at home. 

Florencia Palmaz & Kris Stubblefield

What are your initial thoughts on the Tomahawk?


The Tomahawk is intimidating because it’s so big! Even the most capable cooks are familiar with what it takes to cook up a tender 8-12oz steak. But the Tomahawk can be anywhere between 2 to three times that. Cooking a Tomahawk fully but not overcooking it like a roast takes certain technique and attention. 

What makes a Lodge Pan the ideal instrument for a Tomahawk steak?


Lodge Cast Iron can put a serious sear on a Tomahawk without fear of scorching that beautiful cut of meat. Cast Iron’s heat retention capabilities are unparalleled. A Tomahawk is a statement, cast iron puts an exclamation point on that statement. 


Additionally, they are indestructible! Each pan I own has endured everything from live fire coals of campouts to the direct heat abuse of my high output gas on a professional range. The thick, high quality steel of Lodge retains the heat perfectly to be able to provide an even heat for such a large cut.

What are some considerations you should make before cooking this cut?


The main issue I see in cooking a Tomahawk is the false notion that more rare will be more tender. Because this cut is so big, it’s best served sliced thin for guests to share. I think it’s best to cook to medium rather than medium rare. I like aiming at 136˚ for this cut. This temp allows for that lovely pink center but it’s firm enough to not tear when thinly sliced.

Why are Lodge pans great for the reverse sear method?


The reverse sear is a highly effective method for minimizing the “bulls-eye” effect that can happen when preparing thicker cuts of meat.  I love two things about this method. First, it cooks your protein evenly from edge to edge, retaining moisture and maximizing tenderness. Second, I still get to use my skillet. The reverse sear wouldn’t be the same without hot cast iron. That caramelized deliciousness, brought on by the Maillard reaction, is the magic of the skillet. It’s the flavor of your favorite steak and what impels your tastebuds back to the table again and again.    

Any tips or tricks for cooking especially large cuts like the Tomahawk?


Give it ample time to pre-heat thoroughly and don’t rush it or the oil will smoke.


We’re all about that preheat.  Allowing your cast iron skillet to come to temperature gradually will ensure even heating and maximize heat retention.  When it comes to larger cuts of meat, less is sometimes more.   Turning the temperature down a bit can help caramelize your protein without scorching. Also, resist the temptation to mess with a good thing.  Don’t move the Tomahawk around the pan while it’s searing. After a few minutes of working, shake the pan, if the meat releases, it’s time to give it a flip.  


 A Tomahawk is flashy and fun. I like to present the whole cut to guests before slicing and then bring it back on a big platter for everyone to select their favorite slices. Additionally, in my house the guest of honor is always offered the honor of taking the rib to enjoy the meat on the bone!

Armed with a Lodge 17″ pan, Genesee Valley Ranch 100% grass-fed Wagyu, and a little patience, there’s nothing that can stand in the way of your perfectly cooked Tomahawk and a stunning meal.

Feeling up to the challenge? Follow one of our favorite reverse sear recipes here and enjoy a show-stopping meal.