Taking on the Tomahawk

by Nick Harman - Thursday August 1, 2013 4:08 pm

What more could you axe for? Nick Harman squares up to a mighty piece of meat

This is not my first encounter with a Tomahawk steak, I ate one at a restaurant in Park Lane a few years ago and it was pure comedy. The joke being that it cost £40 and that, as I recall, did not include chips. Not that the clientele - football players, rappers and oligarchs - cared about the price, consumption (conspicuous) was all.

Donald Russell’s Tomahawk costs £32. I didn’t buy it; they sent it for me to try. I had to cook it myself. Life is tough. It arrived frozen in an insulated pack and we almost couldn’t get it into our freezer the bone being over a foot long, but chucking away, appropriately enough, some vegetables, we manhandled the beast in.

Fast forward to the weekend, the tomahawk has been defrosting in the fridge and beating up the yoghurt for looking at it funny. We are lighting a charcoal BBQ because to cook the tomahawk any other way would surely be to offend the Native American gods. It of course begins to rain after ten days of blazing sunshine so we erect a tepee over the grill.

With the coals grey and searing hot, on goes the tomahawk unseasoned. After around five minutes I dust the raw side with rock salt lumps and at seven minutes turn it over. The revealed grilled side looks excellent; caramelised fats and a palette of browns. Another seven minutes and, not wishing to muck this one up, I supplement the press test for doneness by using a Thermapen (everyone should have one, they are brilliant).

Not quite ready but after a few more minutes the Thermapen reveals an interior temperature that should be medium rare, so I whip it off the grill, the bone making a handy handle and set it aside under foil to rest. It is now raining biblically and so after five minutes I hurry it inside to the waiting diners.

Holding it up by its bone I can separate most of the meat with one cut, the meat I then slice into good thick pieces, there is enough for three adults, maybe four at a pinch and serve.

It is a very good steak indeed and, if I say so myself, cooked a point. The juices have reincorporated back into the meat after the resting and the centre is pinkly perfect. We eat it with chips, of course, and a big vinegary salad of mixed leaves plus plenty of rocket sourced from the allotment.  There is a richness of flavour that you find all too seldom in ordinary steaks and even less often in the pricey cuts such as fillet.

All too soon it is gone and after a brief tussle to get the bits left close to the bone, we hand over what little is left to the cat, who looks at this monster bone in his bowl with some amazement and possibly fear. By morning he has reduced it to a white, shining stick with not a fragment of flesh left on it. So everyone is happy.

£32 is of course not cheap for a steak, but worth it for the flavour and above all the theatre. A tomahawk is not something for a casual meal; it has to be the big act at dinner. It gets people talking and laughing and that can’t be bad can it? A tomahawk is, to be very un PC for a moment, heap big fun.


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