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The simple secrets of the Tomahawk

The robust, rich, buttery flavour of the tomahawk steak lends itself to the most discerning of palates.

It’s a cut that not only looks good on the grill, but it’s one that you can share with guests no matter the occasion. Whether it’s a winter gathering around the kitchen table or an outdoor summer BBQ, the tomahawk is a perfect cut to prepare. 

Mel Chmilar with Dark Side of the Grill shows us his perfect way to prepare a tomahawk with little fuss, and all flavour. He always suggests working with a butcher you come to know, trust and feel comfortable asking questions of.

“From there it’s always a home run,” says Chmilar. “Look for a steak with a decent-sized bone on it, marbling of course, and not a massive spinalis in the middle.”

If you have time, Chmilar recommends a 24-hour dry brine with black truffle sea salt. “Salt both sides and put it on a baking tray on a rack in your fridge. After a day, the meat is nicely tacky and dry on the outside,” adding, “then when it hits the grill, you get the sear marks and the moisture on the outside and it collects a nice bit of smoke”

“I love when the meat talks for itself, where all you need is some heavy salt flakes to finish it off,” adds Chmilar.

Let’s talk Tomahawk with Corey Meyer

He suggests not cooking a tomahawk very long. “I like to cook it reverse seared. You want that fat rendered out and you want it to caramelise over the live fire to finish it off,” adding, “That’s the magic of cooking this cut.”

Chmilar recommends an internal temperature of 127 degrees to 130 degrees when you take the tomahawk off the grill, resting for five to 10 minutes if you want the finished product on the rare side. Cook until 135 degrees if you are looking for a medium finish.

When it comes to fueling your fire, it comes down to the right kind of tree.

“If you can find South American charcoal, it’s fantastic,” says Chmilar. “They use eucalyptus trees, and it burns amazingly. Even flavours like whiskey or hickory leaves are awesome.”

For side dishes to complement the tomahawk flavours perfectly, Chmilar suggests mashed potatoes made with garlic butter and horseradish. 

Hoping to host a pit roast this year? Hear Mel Chmilar Jr. covering the ‘how-tos’ of pit roasting with host Debra Murphy on this episode of The Bovine.

“The horseradish plays off well with the tomahawk unbelievably. If you are using a cast-iron skillet, you can do mushrooms with gravy, mixed with a little red wine, or a white cream sauce,” adding, “or grab some baby potatoes and throw them onto the skillet with some onions, garlic, and olive oil and you get that crunchy coat on them.”

Chmilar, who has won countless awards for his grilling techniques, reiterates that simple is always best.

“I always tell people to spend your money on your beef, spend your money on your salt and spend your money on your fuel,” adding “It comes through in the finished product.”

This article was first published in Volume 2 Issue 2 of ABP Magazine (April 2022). Watch for more digital content from the magazine on ABP Daily.

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