MGoBBQ: Dry Brined Tomahawk Ribeye

Submitted by Seth on September 15th, 2016 at 1:28 PM

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[Ed-Seth: We have the great pleasure of employing the services and serving utensils of the original barbecuing bloggerati Joe Pichey of GoBlueBBQ to write recipes for our most delicious sponsor, Stubb's BBQ sauce. It is all over America so you have no excuse for not trying it yet. Consider this your patriotic duty.]

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1

Since Stubbs wouldn’t approve my purchase of a small buffalo for this week’s recipe, I went with the next best thing. I went to my favorite local meat market and picked up this little 3.5 lb Prime Tomahawk Ribeye.

From the minute I walked in the door, Smokey Bones (The official GOBLUEBBQ pup) was by my side. This thing is massive and packs some huge flavor. I love a good ribeye and really liked how it turned out after dry brining. This was the first time dry brining for me and it will be the way to go moving forward. This will work on steaks, chicken, turkey and pork. The thicker the meat, the longer you brine it for. You can’t get much easier than that.

Ingredients

  • Steak (1 - 2 inches thick works best)
  • Kosher Salt (1/2 teaspoon per lb)
  • Stubbs Steak Rub

[Things get salty after THE JUMP]

Directions:

Your dry brining time will depend on the thickness of your steak. If you go with a steak under an inch thick, you will only need 2-3 hours. If you can find a beast like this 3.5 LB tomahawk, go up to 24 hours. Without getting all "BBQ BRINE NERDY” in this post and putting everyone to sleep, here is the main benefit.  The salt pulls some moisture from the interior of the steak, creating a moist exterior. After a few hours, the moisture soaks back into the meat and adds an extra layer of flavor. The salt also helps loosen the proteins which produces a more tender cut while retaining moisture.  Still awake? If so, grab your meat and start sprinkling. I used kosher salt and went with almost 4 teaspoons of salt for this guy. I’ve read where you should use 1/2 teaspoon per pound of meat. Works for me.

2

Salt every inch of the steak. Once it’s fully covered, set on a rack that will allow for complete air circulation. A baking rack should work for most steaks.

3

As you can see below, there is a good amount of salt on the steak. Don’t worry, this will not make your finished product overly salty. Trust me.

4

This one went into the fridge for 24 hours, uncovered and taunting me. It was placed on the “BEER SHELF” to soak in the goodness.  I had to relocate my 12 pack from the fridge interior to my interior. I took one for the team on this day. You’re welcome.

5

After 24 hours, it’s time to fire up the grill.  You can use a gas or charcoal grill for this one. If your steak is over 1.5 inches thick, I recommend going with the reverse sear method. I’ll explain how we do this in a sec. If its under 1.5 inches thick,  grill it over direct heat. 

6

I set my grill for indirect heat and set it at 275 degrees. Anything between 250 - 275 works great. Add a few chunks of pecan or oak for smoke.

7

Just before tossing the meat into the grill, brush it with a little melted butter. This is not mandatory, but it does add some great color and a little flavor to the finished steak.

8

Season with Stubbs Steak seasoning, covering all areas again. Stubbs steak seasoning has a nice flavor and is not too salty. You can use it on meats, veggies and even baked potatoes. It really is an all-purpose seasoning.

9

Once the steak is seasoned and your grill is at temp, throw it on the grates. For reverse sear, we are cooking over indirect heat. I have a heat shield in between the hot coals and the meat. If you are cooking over direct heat, the shield is not needed. If you have a temperature probe, use it. Since this steak was super thick, I used mine to monitor the internal temperature.  I prefer my steaks medium rare, so I left it in until we hit 125 degrees internal.

10

After about 45 minutes to an hour, the steak reached 125 degrees. This is still a RARE steak at this point.

11

[Slap away any hands; we are not finished.]

Now it’s time to have some fun and add some char. You all know how much I love the charred exterior. Turn up the temp of your grill by opening all of the vents and removing any heat shields you have in place. We want this grill HOT!!!!  Mine took about 7 minutes to reach 700 degrees.

12

Once the flames are roaring, place the steak over direct heat. Let the flames kiss it a little. I went 60 seconds each side.The temp probe was still in and went to 133 degrees after 2 minutes. Remember, once removed, the steak temperature will continue to rise. This one finished at 138 degrees after resting.

13

Here is the finished product after 70 minutes of work. At this point, the steak needs to rest for about 15 minutes. Tent with foil and grab a barley pop while you wait.

I made some compound butter for the top, but it honestly didn’t need it. This was just 1 stick of butter (room temp) and some blue cheese crumbles mixed together and refrigerated until solid.

14

After 15 minutes of rest, separate the meat from the bone. Slice as you see below and enjoy. This thing was fork tender and a perfect medium rare.

15

I was shocked at how deep the salt brine penetrated this huge cut of meat. I really could taste it throughout the entire steak. 

16

Give this method a shot on a nice 16 oz ribeye or T-Bone steak for this next game. Add a few baked or smoked potatoes and you may not make past halftime. A nap may be in order, but hopefully, the game will be out of reach by then anyways. GO BLUE!!!!

Comments

ScruffyTheJanitor

September 15th, 2016 at 1:41 PM ^

And you may be in a committed relationship, but I would marry you in a heartbeat. 

Just kidding...you know, probably. 

Also: I once tried the "salt" trick (where you basically dump alot of salt on a steak and let it sit for a few hours, brushing it off when you are done) on some cheap steak (grad school budget) and I have to say: the main affect of super-salting something is the tenderness. I was shocked how well it worked. 

ScruffyTheJanitor

September 15th, 2016 at 2:10 PM ^

I was refering to the thing I did as super salting (though, as someone who doesn't really do salty, that does seem super salted to me).

The method I was referring to was basically rolling the steak in about a half a cup of salt, piling the remainder on top, and letting it sit for a couple of hours. It will make even the toughest steak tender (though just buying better meat is the best option). 

blueneverquits

September 15th, 2016 at 1:43 PM ^

Get them infrequently as a special treat from Paulina Meat Market in Chicago.  Definitely use a temperature probe.  Pretty much impossible to cook one of these bad boys without one, IMO.

Farnn

September 15th, 2016 at 1:50 PM ^

Great points on the dry brine and reverse sear method.  Too few people know about these tricks.  Couple of nits to pick.  I know it's a promotion from Stubb's but I don't like putting anything on a steak besides salt (not even pepper) when cooking it.  Spice rubs and pepper just burn at high temperatures and leave a bitter taste.

Also, should never cook a steak in flames, it leaves a sooty residue.  Your ideal cooking medium is glowing red coals that are radiating tons of heat and even hotter than roaring flames. 

But otherwise this is a very solid guide to grilling a killer steak.  And for such a big steak you can actually leave it brining for 36-48 hours if you like.

backusduo

September 15th, 2016 at 1:51 PM ^

I appreciate all your wisdom on the reverse sear. I did a 3.5 pounder for Labor Day. Only change I would make, if interested in more of a med rare is to pull the steak at around 110 and then finish the steak after the grill has come to high temp flipping it several times to get that perfect sear and kiss of fire. I finish my steaks at 130 and let it come to temp for perfect med rare.

I'm going to have to try that compound butter.

Keep grilling.

Njia

September 15th, 2016 at 1:53 PM ^

My doctor ordered me to lay off red meat, so I can't even consider making this, and it's driving me crazy.

So, if you come up with some great recipes for dry-brined tempeh, please send them my way....

I'll be in the corner - crying.

B-Nut-GoBlue

September 15th, 2016 at 2:58 PM ^

Looks good!

I'm not a fan of the charred effect/flavor so I personally would avoid that.  I like the cooking over indirect heat, though.  I often cook beef tenderloins and utilize an indirect method...not sure if that's a bit abnormal but again, I really do not like much charred flavor so I avoid that at all costs.

On a side note, I did my first pork shoulder smoke for opening weekend.  Used a Webber 22" charcoal grill; not the best method for a 12 hour smoke but it was fun and think I learned a little bit.  The pork came out great for a 3:00 meal (Iowa game).  Did not use Stubbs but made a homeade spicy barbecue sauce.  Stubbs has become my favorite BBQ sauce though even before the sposoship here, so, good choice.

Goggles Paisano

September 15th, 2016 at 3:09 PM ^

I have never seen a tomahawk ribeye - I assume you got that at a specialty butcher shop?  I can't wait to try this.  I have an Egg and always brine my turkey for Thanksgiving - the flavor is outrageous and so much better than on oven cooked turkey.  

Da Fino

September 15th, 2016 at 4:36 PM ^

Biggest mistake with cooking meat is throwing cold slabs on the heat.  Make sure that you take the steak out of the fridge well before you put it on the grill.  Let it come to room/ambient temperature.

And yes, I agree with the others who say this is overcooked and should only be seasoned with salt.  I like mine nice and bloody.  Or, as the French say, "bleu."  Go Bleu!

Farnn

September 15th, 2016 at 5:24 PM ^

It actually is a method, just not the one used by chefs. And it's a prime example of why the "chef" way isn't always the right way. Professional kitchens balance quality with speed and efficiency. Quick searing and finishing in the often is good quality and easy in a fast paced kitchen. The reverse sear is similar to sous vide and gives you better control over even doneness throughout the steak with a thinner gray band of well done at the edge. But it takes longer and requires more attention so restaurants don't use it.

Farnn

September 16th, 2016 at 1:11 AM ^

Yes, you should still rest it.  It's fine to do either method, but the reverse sear gives you a more evenly cooked steak with a much thinner gray band of overcooked meat around the edge.  Below is an article that is way too detailed for most people about grilling steaks but if you search for "reverse" you can skip to where they talk about the reverse sear and it's advantages.

http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/05/food-lab-how-to-grill-steak-cuts-of-…

huffstet

March 27th, 2018 at 12:48 AM ^

There is no logical reason to "Reverse Sear". Sous Vide controls the temp, which allows you to easily replicate and streamline the cooking process in a commercial kitchen. Searing first enables you to get a great crust while evaluating the temp of the meat throughout the entire cooking process. The flavor comes from the crust, which is why it is the #1 priority to develop the crust first.

 

The "reverse sear" is not a technique used by anyone with any cooking knowledge or talent, because it serves no purpose. It is an inferrior technique to sous vide and it is an inferrior technique to searing the meat first. The only thing you will accomplish by "Reverse searing" is overcooking or underdeveloping the crust on your steaks/meat....at home you are starting with cuts that vary in size and starting temp, so "Reverse searing" just complicates the cooking process for most at home cooks. Get a great crust and evelauate the temp as you go, and finish in the oven if needed for a thick cut.

 

I Internet challenge you to a steak cook off.

BlueMan80

September 15th, 2016 at 5:44 PM ^

with this meat orgy.  Looks wonderful.  I saw some tomahawk rib eyes at Busch's market a few weeks ago and thought that would be something fun to cook.  Now I know what to do with it.  Keep on cookin'.  These recipes are great.

Glennsta

September 15th, 2016 at 10:11 PM ^

But when you get to the end, when it's time to char the steak, take it off the grill and cover it, open up all the burners, not just to high, but to the widest open possible "light the grill" setting and let the temperature climb as much as it will.  The slap it back on and hope for the best.

In this method, considering you are using ribeyes, what with their larger fat pockets, flareups are your friend.  Don't dare squirt water on them.  Let 'em char.

UAUM

September 15th, 2016 at 9:21 PM ^

Is fantastic for this. I coat ribeye in it, then brush most, but not all, of it off before cooking.

Reverse searing is the way to go, if you have the time. It basically the slow cook method of cooking prime rib, which is just ribeye before its cut into steaks.

Clarence Beeks

September 15th, 2016 at 9:50 PM ^

If you do this DO NOT overlook the importance of the pecan chunks (or chips, depending on your approach). I mention this because it was almost a throw away sentence in the article. The flavor you get from pecan on a reverse seared and dry brined ribeye is amazing. Other woods are ok, but pecan is by far the best.

Sent from MGoBlog HD for iPhone & iPad

You Only Live Twice

September 16th, 2016 at 9:08 AM ^

Been experimenting with some of the lesser expensive cuts such as chuck blade steaks. (Kroger recently had BOGO and I stocked up a bit).  Flavorful meat but a lot of fat throughout and thick membranes.  So far, the best way to cook them has basically been in a slow cooker for 7 hours, covered in water.  Not a lot of seasoning, just a handful of peppercorns and salt.  It's been an excercise in timing. if undercooked, the flavor doesn't develop.  If overcooked, the meat disintegrates.  7 hours has yielded meat that is fork tender and delicious but it was still necessary to separate the meat from the membranes by hand, then pile on a plate for making nachos, sandwiches etc.   Inspired by this column, now going to try the dry-brine a chuck blade roast and BBQ sauce and then maybe oven-roasting on slow heat.

huffstet

September 17th, 2016 at 12:30 AM ^

I'm a French trained chef. It isn't a technique and it serves ZERO purpose. The most important thing is to get a hard sear and developing Maillard reactions. By going oven to pan, you risk over cooking or not being able to get a hard enough sear. Your "juices" statement is nonsense (buy the book "on cooking the science and lore of the kitchen") , "Reverse searing" only makes cooking a piece of meat much more difficult because you have to time up everything which is impossible due to all the moving parts. If you insist on using another technique prior to searing the meat, the only suggested method would be to sous-vide the meat prior to searing. Sous-vide will give you a uniform temp and you know exactly where you are prior to searing.
Best method:
1. Buy an inexpensive, awesome cast iron pan from @lodgecastiron (cast iron retains heat better than stainless steel etc, which leads to a more consistent and intense sear).
2. Pat dry and heavily salt and pepper the side of the steak you are putting down first
3. Add an oil to the pan that has a high smoke point (canola, grape seed, etc).
4. When the oil starts smoking. Pat steak dry and add it to the pan (salt starts to pull moisture out of the meat so you want to remove that moisture before cooking in order to get a better sear)
5. Cooking time depends on the thickness of the steak. Timing is key because you want to push the crust on the initial sear while also having enough time to cook the other side/get a nice baste in.
6. Flip and baste with butter, thyme, bay leaf, garlic for a couple minutes
7. Finish in the oven on a baking rack/pan at 350/375 until reaches desired internal temp (for medium rare, right when the meat starts firming a little). Finishing In the oven leads to a more consistent final product and it enables you to get an even internal temp throughout the meat.
8. Let rest a couple min (usually approximately 20% of the cooking time)
-This same technique will work with most non-fibrous cuts of meat, but cooking times will change depending on thickness, type of meat, etc. Also, keep your cast iron away from acids and always hand wash/dry them to prevent rusting.