Good to the bone

Look but don’t eat. A few days ago I teased you with a Cayman Cookout photo of tomahawk steaks ready for grilling. It made my mouth water, too. Truth is, that cut is nearly impossible to find.
But why?

I asked Chef Michael and our in-house meat scientist, Dr. Phil. As it turns out, the old fashioned isn’t the only thing that’s been around for ages.

“The tomahawk comes from a classical rib primal that is essentially antiquated,” Dr. Phil said. “It’s produced by special order at the packer or processor level; a specialty cut that’s nearly impossible to find in a retail store. Unless you have a relationship with a specialty butcher shop, tomahawk steaks can’t be had these days.”

To answer the why we must understand the how. The tomahawk is a ribeye with rib bone attached. It’s basically a cowboy steak with a longer bone. The tomahawk bone is about 20 inches long because it includes the length of bone all the way to the navel. It is then Frenched, meaning meat is cut away to expose the bone.

Tomahawk is a highly impressive technique that’s neither standard, nor common in modern retail society. It takes a great deal of skill, a lot of time and as you can conclude, costs quite a bit extra. And that, fellow carnivores, is why you’ll only find Certified Angus Beef ® tomahawk steaks in the world’s finest signature steakhouses.

As any true seeker of ultimate steaks can attest, unavailable isn’t a palatable option, however. Never fear. There is a solution. You can savor the sizzle of your own tomahawk steak — of sorts.

The cowboy way.

There is a tomahawk alternative likely to impress every guest at your dinner party. Request Certified Angus Beef ® bone-in rib steaks from your local butcher. Ask them to “French” the bone. The result is what is commonly known as a cowboy steak.

The cowboy or bone-in ribeye offers the visual appeal of the bone — just not as much as that of a tomahawk. It’s essentially a tomahawk with a hack job … maybe we could call it ‘the hatchet’!

Or maybe not.

Cowboys … tomahawks … don’t you wonder who named these mouthwatering beef cuts in the first place? Perhaps that’s a post for another day!

Happy trails!

Tip: Click here for cowboy steak recipes and more!


An alternative that would likely be very impressive to a dinner party would be to obtain some bone-in CAB rib steaks from their local butcher and have the butcher “French” the bone to produce what is commonly called a Cowboy steak (as Michael eluded).  This will give the visual appeal of the bone but just not as much as that of a Tomahawk.  The Tomahawk is produced from a classical rib primal that is essentially antiquated and for all intents and purposes is not produced unless specially ordered.


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Jennifer Kiko

Jennifer lives on a rural route with her husband, kids, horses, cows and faithful Labs, Cash and Carter. She's an aspiring foodie and enjoys making good food for great friends. She lives next door to a winery, plays the piano, and admits to growing too many tomatoes.