If there’s one thing that has always fascinated me, it’s the art of transforming fresh, raw meat into a delectable and visually stunning dish. There is a certain satisfaction that comes from curating the entire process, from field to plate. Recently, my culinary journey led me to discover the intriguing world of venison tomahawk steaks. These bone-in ribeye cuts, also known as “whitetail lollipops,” have taken social media by storm, captivating food enthusiasts like myself. Intrigued by their grandeur, I decided to try my hand at preparing them.
Unleashing the Hunter-Chef Within
Like many, I was initially hesitant to process my own meat. The idea of relying on professionally butchered cuts was appealing. But the desire to truly delve into the art of meat preparation compelled me to take the plunge. Little did I know that this decision would deepen my appreciation for each step involved in creating a remarkable dish.
Exploring the Tomahawk Steak Journey
The journey of preparing a venison tomahawk steak begins with understanding the basics. Essentially, it is the cross-section of the deer’s “backstrap” or loin, with a section of the rib bone left intact. To ensure the best flavors, it is crucial to handle the carcass immediately after the kill. Field dressing and skinning the deer promptly helps reduce unwanted flavors. While opinions may vary on hanging and aging the meat, ensuring the carcass is dry, clean, and free from silver skin is paramount.
Step 1: Carving the Ribs
The first decision to make is how much rib bone you want to leave attached to the steak. Removing the entire bone, known as “Frenching,” offers a classic presentation. Leaving an inch or two of bone is referred to as a “caveman steak” or bone-in-rib steak. Personally, I find that leaving around 5-6 inches strikes the perfect balance, resulting in an appealing presentation that complements the size of the venison steak. Achieving this length is as simple as using a fine-toothed meat saw to saw the ribs.
Step 2: The Precise Cut
Next, it’s time for a precise cut along the vertebral line of the backstrap. Unlike when removing the backstrap, avoid cutting alongside the rib. Instead, make a straight cut beside the vertebrae until you feel the top of the rib bones. This preserves the integrity of the backstrap.
Step 3: Separating the Ribs
Using a meat saw, carefully cut the top of the ribs where they join the spine. This can be done from the inside of the body cavity, with one hand pulling the rack of ribs away from the spine. It may be a bit tricky at first, but once you get the hang of it, the process becomes smoother with each rib.
Step 4: Crafting the Tomahawk Steaks
Now, you’ll have a full rack of ribs with the backstrap still attached. Soon, you’ll notice that one end of the rack has less meat than the other. Some prefer to select the first 4 or 5 tomahawks, using the remaining ribs for a standing-rib roast. On your cutting board, carefully make clean cuts between each rib, separating the individual steaks. A beef tomahawk is typically around 2 inches thick, while a venison tomahawk measures about 1 inch in thickness. For smaller deer, combining two ribs on one steak can provide sufficient thickness. Ensure all silver skin and unwanted fat are removed, wrap the steaks individually in butcher paper, and you’re done.
Step 5: The Marinade Magic
With your steaks cut and wrapped, it’s time to prepare a marinade. Though a simple salt and pepper rub or your favorite steak seasoning would suffice, why not try something a little different? Personally, I enjoy marinating my venison tomahawk steaks in a teriyaki BBQ marinade concocted by my talented wife, who expertly combines various recipes. Allow the thawed steaks to soak in this marinade for 2-24 hours, letting the flavors infuse.
Step 6: The Sizzling Cook-Off
Grilling these steaks is a treat for the senses. I prefer cooking them over charcoal at high heat, ensuring the coals reach a temperature of over 500 degrees F. Carefully place each steak on the grill, taking into account the depth of the coals. Cooking time per side typically ranges from 3-8 minutes, allowing the steaks to achieve the perfect level of doneness. Since venison tomahawks are thinner and contain less fat than their beef counterparts, it is crucial to avoid overcooking them. To ensure perfection, I rely on an accurate meat thermometer. For a medium to medium-rare doneness, I remove the steaks once the center reaches 125-130 degrees F. Afterward, I transfer them to a warm plate, covering them with foil or a lid, and allow them to rest undisturbed for at least 5 minutes. If needed, I sometimes utilize my stove, set on low, to further rest the steaks before plating. During this resting period, the internal temperature will rise by approximately 10 degrees F, and the savory juices will spread throughout the meat, resulting in a mouth-wateringly tender and juicy steak.
If grilling isn’t your preferred method, fret not! Pan-frying these steaks on a sizzling hot cast-iron skillet is an equally enticing option. Preheat the skillet on high heat, and once it reaches the desired temperature, add 1-2 tablespoons of vegetable oil. Place the dry steaks onto the skillet, listening to the sizzle. For an extra touch of finesse, throw in a thick slice of butter and crushed garlic during the final two minutes of cooking. Afterward, set the steaks aside to rest for at least 5 minutes before indulging in their tantalizing flavors.
Step 7: Bon Appétit!
The moment you’ve been waiting for has arrived – it’s time to savor the fruits of your labor. Plate the succulent venison tomahawk steaks and experience a carnivorous delight like no other. Each bite is a testament to your culinary prowess, leaving you craving more.
Teriyaki BBQ Marinade Recipe:
- 1 tsp Garlic Powder
- 1 tsp Ginger
- ½ cup Soy Sauce
- ½ cup Ketchup
- ½ cup Sugar
Discover the World of Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ
Unleash your inner culinary adventurer and embark on a journey that will redefine your perception of venison. Turn each meal into a remarkable sensory experience by exploring the tantalizing offerings of Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ. Embrace the art of meat preparation and elevate your cooking prowess to new heights. Bon appétit!