They say the porterhouse is the king of steaks. I have a hard time disagreeing…until I cooked a cowboy steak. It’s a massive cut of beef, usually weighing around 2 – 2 1/2 pounds and standing 2.5 inches thick.
This cowboy steak recipe is a glorious coffee-rubbed steak that is pan-seared in a cast iron skillet and roasted in the oven. It’s got a juicy, tender inside and smokey, seared exterior thanks to the coffee. Don’t forget about the fresh rosemary compound butter.
Unless you butcher it (sorry having too much pun with this), the cowboy steak is an incredibly flavorful cut of beef that will melt in your mouth thanks to the wonderful marbling throughout.
What is The Cowboy Steak Cut?
The cowboy steak, also known as the tomahawk steak, are both other names for a bone-in ribeye steak. The main difference is usually the style and size. Your typical bone-in ribeye that you get at the grocery store is actually a frenched ribeye. A full ribeye sliced in half so it’s thinner. The cowboy steak is double the thickness and contains the full rib bone. The rib usually protrudes outside the steak about 1/2 – 1 inch.
Cowboy Versus Tomahawk
The cowboy and tomahawk steak are identical cuts of steak, except the tomahawk has 4-5 extra inches of rib bone extending out of the steak for presentation purposes. It earned the name tomahawk because the longer bone and steak resembles a tomahawk axe. Unfortunately, due to the longer bone, you can’t really cook a tomahawk in a cast iron skillet unless you use a BIG skillet or griddle.
The Coffee Rub
Rub the steak with salt, pepper, and about 1 tablespoon of ground coffee on each side. Rub the sides as well if you prefer. The coffee, salt, and pepper will soak into the beef during the 30-minute rest and flavorize it.
I would use non-flavored coffee so you aren’t introducing any weird flavors. Also, no need to use expensive coffee. I’ve used cheap Folgers decaf with superb results.
How to Cook a Cowboy Steak
This is a massive steak. You need to combine pan-searing with an oven finish to fully cook the steak without totally burning the outside. This allows for a nicely seared crust on the outside with a juicy, tender inside.
Sear steaks in a cast iron skillet for 2 minutes per side on medium-high heat and immediately transfer to the oven to roast. 20-25 minutes in the oven, should yield a perfect medium rare if your cut is roughly 2 pounds and 2.5 inches thick.
Temperatures For Steak
For this recipe, I highly recommend investing in an inexpensive digital thermometer. It’s a tough steak to judge due to its size. I took my cowboy steak out of the oven at around 120 °F for medium-rare. The steak will continue to cook after you take it out of the oven so it’s key to remove slightly below your desired final temperature, as it will continue to rise about 5 degrees.
|Very Rare/rare||120° F to 125° F|
|Medium rare||125° F to 130° F|
|Medium||135° F to 140° F|
|Medium well||145° F to 150° F|
|Well done||160° F and above|
Note: Cooking steaks at high temps in a skillet tends to get smokey. Open a kitchen window and turn on your kitchen’s overhead vent fan before you start to help with ventilation.
Let Steaks Rest?
The legend, Anthony Bourdain once said, the most important aspect of cooking any steak is the rest period after you take it off the heat. Letting a steak rest for 5-7 minutes before cutting is critical for two reasons. One, it continues to actually cook the steak. Second, the juices evenly distribute throughout the meat, yielding the perfect bite every time.
Always let your steaks rest! Make a drink, have a beer, you’ll thank me later.
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A massive coffee rubbed cowboy steak, pan seared and roasted in the oven for the perfect smokey finish. Topped with rosemary compound butter for a buttery finish.
- 1 cowboy steak, 2-2 1/2 pounds, roughly 2.5 inches thick
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 2 tablespoons ground coffee
- 1 sprig rosemary, leaves removed from sprig. minced
- 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
For the rosemary butter
- Soften the butter in a microwave safe bowl until malleable, 10-15 seconds. Stir in fresh rosemary until fully mixed. Spoon the butter onto tin foil doing your best to reshape it to resemble a round stick of butter. Place in refrigerator for about 10 minutes and remove 5 minutes before adding to the steak.
For the cowboy steak
- Preheat the oven to 425 °F. Remove steak from the fridge 30 minutes before cooking, this is to bring the steak to room temperature and ensure your cooking times are more accurate. Season both sides generously with salt and pepper. Rub with ground coffee on all sides, but mainly the top and bottom.
- Add oil to an oven safe cast iron skillet and turn up to medium high heat, allow the skillet to become hot first. Place the cowboy steak face down and sear undisturbed for 2 minutes. Flip and sear for an additional 2 minutes. This will give your steak a nice seared edge.
- Transfer your skillet directly to the oven. [WARNING] skillet may be hot, handle with oven mitts. For medium rare, bake for 20-25 minutes. For medium, 25-30 minutes. Well done, 30-35 minutes. Just to note, a digital thermometer is critical to ensure accurate temps. Take the steak out of the oven roughly 5° cooler than your desired final temp. Steak will continue to cook after it’s taken off the heat. I take mine out at 120°.
- This recipe is ideal for a 2 1/2 pound cowboy steak, roughly 2 1/2 inches thick. Remove steak from the skillet and set on a cutting board. Top with rosemary butter and let sit for 5-7 minutes before serving. This is important to bring your steak to its final serving temperature. Slice and serve.
Cooking steaks at high temps in a skillet tends to get smokey. Open a kitchen window and turn on your kitchen’s overhead vent fan before you start to help with ventilation.
Temperatures for steak
Rare: 120 °F to 125 °F
Medium rare: 125 °F to 130 °F
Medium: 135 °F to 140 °F
Medium well: 145 °F to 150 °F
Well done: 160 °F and above
- Serving Size: About 1 lb
- Calories: 756
- Sugar: 0g
- Sodium: 283mg
- Fat: 39.7g
- Saturated Fat: 15.3g
- Carbohydrates: 0.2g
- Fiber: 0.1g
- Protein: 93.1g
- Cholesterol: 195mg
Keywords: cowboy steak, tomahawk steak, coffee rubbed steak