Your Tomahawks are Dull

Show Notes

On this episode of Huntavore, Nick is #sorrynotsorry for calling out your freshly cut venison tomahawk steaks.  Like our popped polo collars from highschool, the cut needs an update.  First Nick walks through some best practices to get a proper Tomahawk on the plate.  Then he offers his update to the cut by taking advantage of the colder season to make it into a crusted roast that will be sure to elevate your hard earned wildgame.  Get ready to sharpen up that tomahawk on this episode of Huntavore.

Maybe Nick is leaning on a bit of click-bait on the subject,  Tomahawk style steaks gained popularity in the early 2000’s after a restaurant in New York began serving the cut.  Since then it's been a huge boom by BBQer’s and grillers.  Wasn’t long before the wildgame boys jumped in with cutting their own from deer and elk.  Couple tips when cutting your own are; leave as a larger 4-5 rib roast, and cut portions after resting,  clean the bones completely of meat and tissue; during roast and sear, wrap the bone in foil to keep brilliant white.  In Nick’s opinion the updated version is kept as a roast, and crusts the outside.  After quickly searing the meat and resting, use dijon mustard as a binder and apply your crust mixture before finishing in a slow oven.  A crust mix Nick used was; pistachios, panko bread crumbs, parmesan, salt, and pepper.

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Show Transcript

Welcome to the Huntivore podcast powered by Sportsman's Empire, where we celebrate the hunting and fishing lifestyle through the utilization and consumption of our wild game. No egos. Fork in hand. Beer in the other. No status. A piece of red meat on a hot grill and turn it into a burnt offering. Just catch it.

Cut it. Cook it. This is episode 136, Your Tomahawks Are Dull. On this episode of Huntivore, Nick is hashtag sorry, not sorry, for calling out your freshly cut venison tomahawk steaks. Like our popped polo collars from high school, the cut needs an update. First, Nick walks through some [00:01:00] best practices to get proper tomahawks on the plate.

Then, he offers up his update to take advantage of the colder season and turn it into a crusted roast that will be sure to elevate your hard earned wild game. Get ready to sharpen up those tomahawks on this episode of Huntaboy.

Hey folks, beautiful afternoon here in Michigan. Hey, by the time you hear this, it will be the day after the opener. It'll be the 16th of November. And folks, let me tell you what. Things are going to be different. I am currently recording this on the 11th. And I feel the pressure of trying to get things done with the bow.

I want another doe down. If I can take it with a bow, wonderful. I'm looking for the ability to take something quietly before the real action happens on the [00:02:00] 15th. The real action being that it'll be the firearm opener here in the state of Michigan. We will be in the limited firearm zone because of all the people that are there.

Every woodlot, every field, every little corner will have somebody pitched up. Waiting for their buck, waiting for their doe to run by. For the folks that are out there, that are joining us on this season of harvest. Welcome, glad you are here. Please, shoot straight, shoot accurate, and stay safe.

Ultimately, whether you bag something or not, it's all about coming home safe. That's what we need to be doing. But anyway on the other end of it, I've also been preparing a few of my... Cuts that I've got in the freezer. I am brining up a boneless leg of wild boar that I got down in Oklahoma.

That leg is going to be transitioned into some boneless [00:03:00] ham. Boneless, why do you ask? I was trying something different. I want to see if I can't make it into a ham roll, essentially. Tie it up nice and tight, smoke it. And then be able to serve it around Christmas time. So we're going to give that a shot here.

So it's in the brine for 10 days. I'm also giving a shot to some belly. I'm going to try to make bacon. And I know it's been said many a time that it is really difficult to make bacon out of wild pork. I'm going to go like a rolled up pancetta style. So I'm going to brine. Brine the belly, as is, I'm then going to roll it and tie it before we hit the smoker.

And then at that point, hopefully it'll hold shape. And then as I slice, get a round of bacon as opposed to a... A slice of bacon. That's essentially what I'm going for. Hopes are that it also holds together in that shape in the round shape. As [00:04:00] you, as I probably render it in a pan, it's probably going to start to, uh, lose its width and it's going to then probably come apart.

But I'm thinking at that point, man, once you can get those into a round shape. That's going to bode itself well for many different applications, not just slices of bacon. So anyway, that is on the docket right now that is currently curing, and so it's the waiting game there. Topic I wanted to talk about today.

Is this one's probably going to hit close to home. This is probably going to smack a few people in the face and that's okay, because we're always looking to improve ourselves. We're always looking to take things to the next level. And so what I'm going to drop today is that I know you're really excited about being able to cut up your deer.

And you're looking forward to making those Tomahawk steaks, but here's the thing. [00:05:00] Tomahawks are getting dull. The the overuse of the tomahawk has made it commonplace. The overuse of the added rib onto the back strap no longer has its shock value, no longer has its real appeal. Yes, it is very nice to put out onto the plate, but If done sloppily or done incorrectly, you've just put a bone on your plate with no real added value.

That that's gonna, that's gonna turn some people sideways here, just for a little bit. But that's not to say that the tomahawk is dead. That's not to say that the tomahawk needs to be worked out. All I'm saying is, it's a little dull. And we need to put a better edge on it. bAck about what'd I find?

2008. 2008 is when we first started to see tomahawks hit the main stage in in New York City. I [00:06:00] didn't find the name of the restaurant, but the restaurant started selling the tomahawk dinner. It was right around Valentine's Day. They wanted to have something that was different, something that was shocking, something was that would jar people up.

And so then they got this ribeye steak, and they left the rib, the full rib, attached. And then, that was a big crowd pleaser. That was a really big whoa moment. And since then the domestic world went crazy with it. You can now find tomahawks in, larger supermarkets. If you can't find it right there, you can always go to your butcher and they'll cut you a tomahawk.

And I'm sure they'll have those in the case. You can even order them online with now the online meat services. You can order yourself a tomahawk, but if you compare face value, a rib eye steak. A boneless ribeye steak and a tomahawk. [00:07:00] You're going to see a price difference. The tomahawk is going to be more expensive.

It's the same cut of meat. And the reason it's more expensive is because of its appeal. People are, it's sexy to say tomahawk steak as opposed to just rib eye. riB eye, somebody's gonna look out there, but at the same time, that's my favorite cut. Rib eye, I love a rib eye off a piece of beef.

That is a wonderful marbled cut of meat that, man, I will go for that every single time. And they're just capitalizing on that marbling on that delicious flavor and just leaving the bone on the attack. A few extra bucks on to the price per pound. And at the same time, now they get you with more money because the bone weighs so much.

Oh, it's a trap folks. It's a trap. They're making you spend more money for the sex appeal. [00:08:00] Welcome to the United States of America. But anyway, that's not to say that. It's not worth it because presentation wise we've seen it. Everybody has seen that beautiful Tomahawk steak and yes, the domestic world, the barbecue hobbyists, the grilling hobbyists, the folks that joined me on the culinary side, man, taking that out to a charcoal grill and being able to sear all the sides around it.

And then be able to get a good crust on that piece of beef and to pull it back onto the plate, let it rest and cut into it and have a beautiful medium rare pink on the inside of that with this amazing crust and that bone sweeping along it. After you finish the steak, or even on a presentation, people might even cut off the bone.

Slice up the meat and then plate it up as, piecing it back together. There's still a lot of meat left on that bone. You can chew on that thing for quite a while, getting every little morsel off that large cut of beef. [00:09:00] And that does make it fun to be able to do. But at the same time, now we've been able to adapt that into wild tomahawks.

I know Jeremiah Doty, he's been on the show before. I consider him a colleague. I consider him a friend. In the fact that he himself has started to make a big mainstay. He was really talking about tomahawks early on. He tried to catch that wave and yeah, now everybody wants to cut those tomahawks out of their out of their venison, or out of their, whatever they put down their elk.

I could see an elk tomahawk being a much more impressive look than say a whitetail. But that's not to say that I haven't cut them myself. I enjoy cutting, tomahawks. They do add a sense of fun. It's because I'm not just peeling out the backstrap at this point. I'm now having to go through. I gotta separate the rib.

I gotta make sure that I make the good cut. I also, when you do decide to make your [00:10:00] cutting edge of the rib, wherever you decide to end the rib using a fine toothed saw and actually going with a hand saw as opposed to a reciprocating saw. is going to be much cleaner. You're going to get a straighter cut edge and that's going to be wonderful for plate presentation.

The jagged edge after a hard either cut with a uh, with a hatchet cut with a bigger tooth saw, or even just the the force of the reciprocating saw, it's going to leave a jagged edge and it's not going to be good for presentation. The second thing is, not only is the bone still attached, but it has to be fringed.

It has to be cleaned, because you want to have that stark difference. You want to have the deep mahogany red of your backstrap. Compared side by side with the brilliant white of [00:11:00] that rib. It's gonna take you not just a few seconds to cut the meat out in between and just leave little bits that are gonna then turn brown and get get charred up.

Ultimately then turning your your rib. Into more of a tan as opposed to a white, you got to scrape all of that off. And there's been a couple of tricks to help that out. First off is you can get some butcher's twine and you do two handover knots near the base or essentially where the the. The backstrap meets the rib.

Cinch that down tight, and then pull hard. And that friction from that knot as it slides up the bone will leave those much cleaner than before. The mainstay, the easiest way to do it, doesn't necessarily mean the quickest, but it's just to take the side of your knife and then scrape each bone. Keep it clean, right on down to the white, making it clean.[00:12:00]

So that's the, that's also the hard part too, is it's tedious. You have to take the extra effort. And unlike it's a cousin on the domestic side being the beef, there's a fat content, there's a marbling that actually helps that stabilize, helps that piece of meat stabilize on that bone. Or on the domestic side, we are not gifted with the extra amount of marbling, the extra amount of fat to hold stabilization.

It's going to be real loosey goosey. And that's where you can get into, as you're beginning to cut these individual steaks, you're going to get some that are thicker than thinner and, some that aren't as appealing. It's difficult, it's hard to get that way. Now, chilling it so that the meat is a little more stiff, that is going to help you do that, and even if you wanted to pre cut your steaks into whatever Distribution you wanted them to be whether it's going to be a two bone or [00:13:00] a three bone actually the three bones pretty thick that's gonna get into later what I want to talk about as a way to sharpen this up But to do a single bone venison State a talk tomahawk steak is a really small Portion makes an excellent appetizer, but to put that on the plate as a single bone You're gonna you're gonna want to put two or three on there for a meal That's where the two bone can come in, where you serve it with two bones coming together.

Now you have a piece that you can control a little bit more of what that inside is going to look like. You're going to want that to be a medium rare, a rare to medium rare, and being able to control that is going to be helpful. The bigger piece of meat, the easier it is to control. Then it comes to, yeah, how are you going to now get that to that medium rare?

How are you gonna get that to that rare, but at the same time putting on a good sear? [00:14:00] Is it gonna be a reverse style? thAt's my route. I go reverse. You can go straight sear knowing how hot and how intense that heat is gonna be. In comparison to the size of the steak itself it can be done.

And that might even be, one way that, that you can help control that. But then again, when it comes to that presentation, the bone is going to be affected. If you try to roast the bone, it's going to, again, tan up. It's going to begin to Darken, and it's not going to be that brilliant white. One way I have found to help keep that brilliance is to wrap it in tinfoil.

And by wrapping the exposed bone in tinfoil, you reflect the heat and it doesn't change the. Hue of that bone same thing. Y'all want to keep that, especially when you're you're searing because yeah, you can burn the side of that bone real quick. So being able to [00:15:00] foil up the exposed brilliant white bone that you've already scraped off or pulled off with the uh, the knot method with the butcher's twine, and then being able to then get that meat to the doneness that you're looking for.

The reverse style. Yeah, I would. I like to go, I'll get it up to one 15, one 10 to one 15 in the internal on the reverse, on the the low setting the roasting setting. And then when I go to them, the high heat, the high sear that will then continue the rest of the cook by being able to give it all the BTUs that it's going to need.

And I usually use charcoal. That's where I can get the most intensity. So that's the route that I'm going with that. It's one of those things like it's been done. We've done this before and there's been a change in the season that going out to the grill is still possible, but everybody's busy and we're getting really close to where [00:16:00] snow is going to be falling.

Yes. I just said the S word snow and snow is going to be falling and there's going to be a shift from the grilling. Outside to now we're going to be using our ovens now we're going to be roasting you can still use your grill but there's going to be necessarily not this summertime searing of steaks but it's now going to be these warm and cozy roast roasting joints.

We're going to be looking at bigger cuts we're going to be looking at entertaining larger groups of people. And so that's where I think the tomahawk is going to get a session. to be winterized. That's not to say that the actual cut of the tomahawk, or at least that idea, needs to go to rest. It just needs to be pizazzed up.

It just needs to go in a different direction. So yeah, as I'm gonna allude to that here in a little bit, we are gonna take that in a different direction. When in the field, accuracy and precision count. That's why we switch our slug guns [00:17:00] to rifled barrels. tune our arrows, and use a fish finder on the water.

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You've gone ahead and bad mouthed the tomahawk. What are you gonna do about it? What is going to tie this whole [00:19:00] thing back together? You said the tomahawk was dull. How are we going to sharpen it? I'm glad you asked. We're gonna sharpen it two specific ways. You can do either of these even as the tomahawk cut itself.

You're going to want to leave it more as a roast, but you can serve it up as a tomahawk. And then also to really elegant, bring that elegance up into the presentation where you can keep it as a roast in itself. So the two ways we're going to be doing this is if you were to continue to cut the rib and leave the rib on the back strap, I would say do a section closer towards the hind legs, that sirloin piece, the back straps that would essentially be the the porterhouse section of a T bone if we were to cross section that.

We want the biggest part of the back straps. And I would do Either a four or five rib [00:20:00] section. So that saddle right there above the tenderloins is going to be the target area that I'm going for. And I say that I want it to be four or five ribs is because I'm going to now be taking those two sections and putting them together and roasting them as a crown roast.

Old World Dish, essentially where you're going to cut the backstrap at that four or five bone section. You're going to clean each of those bones up, you're going to foil those up, and then you're going to interlace the bones and hopefully hold this together. Some people tie them together, especially if they run a stuffing through the middle of it.

And then they hold these two together, interlacing the bones, and this becomes the crown roast. Second way I've also seen it done is where they've done the whole backstrap, or the whole Loin and then they actually [00:21:00] make a circle. So now it is a crown Essentially where it's a circle of bones Standing up both can be done in certain ways.

I like the Interlaced bones where they're coming together. You can run a stuffing through the middle. I haven't usually run a stuffing I'll just interlace the bones and then I'm able to then cut two portions off and then lay those on the plate there, but Being able to keep those as a larger section does two things.

Number one, it allows you to use whatever seasoning that you want on those. Number two, it gives a bigger portion especially since it's getting more into the celebration type parties that are coming up. You're going to be doing some bigger portions. And third, it does make for an. easier cook to be able to get to that target doneness that you're looking for using an internal probe either a Bluetooth one from my friends over there at TAPIQ, or even using the [00:22:00] corded one.

As well instant read even you just got to be on top of it and you don't want to continue to poke it a whole bunch of times with the instant read. It's better to have something that just slides in and stays in there, but I can get to that target very quickly, or excuse me, I shouldn't say very quickly, very precisely because I can watch where that goes up.

The other advantage is too is that you can start with a slow oven, pull it and rest it and then hit that broil. Feature on your oven or just crank up that heat and then put it in for a small period of time to then add the char that you're looking for on the outside or that crust to have that form.

You can baste it with a little bit more of the fat drippings as if you'd like, or even add your own fat drippings to help improve that char. tO be able to get that done but at the same time, that is such an elegant way to be able to present that cut. And a great way to be able to get to the doneness that you're looking for to impress your guests.

The [00:23:00] second way, adding on to that, whether I interlace it, or whether I just do a roast of four or five bones, and I have it just all together. is to add a crust on the outside of it. So now I'm not looking to sear the outside. What I'm looking to do is bake that crust on and get to the internal temp that I'm looking for and let the crust caramelize, let the crust do the work as far as the presentation.

Took a step over into I think it was, eh, I think they did it more with lamb in the French area of the world. I did a pistachio parmesan. So I had pistachios, parmesan cheese, and then breadcrumb. Breadcrumb is a big part of it. Some salt and whatever seasoning I wanted to add with that.

And I mixed that up. So I had my section of four or five bones. I believe it was a, I believe it was a five bone. [00:24:00] And I took all those pistachios, blitzed those up. Really fine. I actually started with my knife and I wanted to get those to be really small chunks, big enough that. You could still see it was a pistachio.

You didn't want to go to a fine dust. But at the same time, I wanted to get them small enough that I could get a uniform coating without having the weight of the actual pistachio pull it back off. You gotta get a binder on there. So I took that roast, foiled up my tips, put that in the oven, and I roasted it until I got to my 110, pulled it out, and then at that point I brushed the whole thing with a Dijon mustard.

That's gonna be my binder. With that mustard on there, I then roll that whole roast and I pack the sides and try to pack in between the bones of my crust mixture that I've got. And again, it's that parmesan cheese, it's the pistachio, it's the salt, it's the seasonings, and it's the breadcrumb. All work together [00:25:00] and I sprinkle that on and it, it holds on there.

I then take that and I go back into the oven. And I believe I went from a 300 oven, I think I popped it up to a 400 then to finish. And what I wanted that crust to do was brown up, caramelize up a little bit. Those little bits of parmesan cheese just melted out and crusted onto the outside of it.

It roasted and really brightened up those pistachios and the breadcrumb did its job of just holding the whole thing together keeping the seasoning. On the side of the meat. The binder, that tangy mustard also working its way into the meat, working its way into the crust, and just holding that piece together.

Pull that out, and it's then critical that you let that rest. Especially when you pull it out, because things are still going to be a little bit gelatinous, as far as like the cheese and... And things are going to be moving but you want to be able to set that along the side on a rack and let that rest for, I would say, a good [00:26:00] 10 minutes before you attempt even your first cut.

But then at that point, I'm left with this crusted roast here. And as I sliced in between the bones, I could then serve up one or two portions or three portions depending on how much people wanted. And so that presentation is now with this brilliant, bright pink through the middle of that. On the outside, you've got the interesting colors of all that's going on that crust, where you have a little bit of the green showing from the pistachio, and you have the caramelization and the tans from the cheese and the breadcrumb, and even a bit of the pistachio itself.

And then you have that brilliant white section of bone. And you put that on a plate and it just... You don't need the plate to be fancy at that point because the food does all the work for you. It's just a brilliant way [00:27:00] to be able to show that. And so that's just a neat way to take what was a tomahawk that you just threw on the grill and really brighten it up for the season.

It being something that's we're looking for more richness, we're looking for more body in these colder months and that's what that is able to provide. On top of that, to be able to add a pan sauce I was talking with Paul from the O2 podcast down there in Ohio, and he was already jumping on the bandwagon of, hey, I want to do something different with my deer.

I want to do something exciting. And he was alluding to tomahawks. And that's where I shared my. I guess my my idea that I think the tomahawks are dull. I think the tomahawks are tired. And I presented this idea of being able to crust them. Now if you don't go with a part of the parmesan pistachio and you want to go with something a little different maybe it's even [00:28:00] a chance where that you could use hazelnuts or you could even use walnuts if you've got those in abundance something of that's a little bit more native to white tails you could be able to use those if you're even next to a place where you're able to harvest hickory nuts being able to use the hickory nuts On top of that would just really add an earthiness to that piece of meat that would really make that exciting.

I forget who said it, when things grow together, things go together on the plate. And so that's where really being able to shift around whatever element you want to add to your crust you could. And I think to top that all off, depending on whatever your side dish is going to be, having a pan sauce to really brighten up that cut as well.

Something to dip in, something to then marry the crust and the meat with this pan sauce. And so it might even take you'd have to whip that up on the side, whether it's using a a bone broth that you've made [00:29:00] yourself, or even just a bouillon cube, or Whatever you've, we've made for using your, the base of your sauce, but then really applying more fruit into that as well,

I know that I, I really enjoyed having a blackberry pan sauce that would go onto my venison in the summertime. But then even being able to translate that pan sauce and throwing that onto the crusted tomahawk would really just make that super delicious. Shoot, as we get closer and closer to, to Thanksgiving and to Christmas, and we have these extra celebrations along with the main day, even making a cranberry sauce that's going to go alongside your steak, instead of the traditional wobbly can of stuff that you got there, actually bolding it up, maybe getting yourself some fresh cranberries, soaking those.

Boiling those down, adding a bit of sugar, and really get that tart and that tang going and be able to put that along with your crusted [00:30:00] tomahawk would really really bold well. And for your last little piece of presentation, with that crust, I'm sure you're going to have some along the side left over.

I would say slide that into the oven as well next to your roast and let that Let that roast up let that caramelize as well And so when you pull it out that gets crumbled along the side dish that gets Added on to the plate because people are gonna love that crust once you've got that on the meat They're gonna want more of that and to add a little bit of crunch Maybe with the mashed potatoes to add a little bit more of that crunch with The roasted carrots or the roasted root vegetable that you got going on to really, you know tie those elements together bringing together a one cohesive Man, if that's not elevating something that we get out of the woods, if that's not taking your whitetail or your elk and just putting it on a pedestal, I don't [00:31:00] know what is.

So there, that is my take on a seasonal transition from the dull tomahawk to add a sharp edge to it and make it into a crusted roast with a pan sauce. That's where I'm thinking of going with it. So I hope nobody is too upset with my take on that. And I'm sure there's going to be those naysayers out there to say, Hey, just leave my Tomahawks alone.

I want those to be on the grill and they only deserve to be on the grill to each their own. It will be delicious in whatever way you put it. But yeah, I think just adding a little bit of warmth and comfort to the plate in the form of a crust in the sauce will really bust it up. When you are cutting out your back straps, and you are then leaving on that bone, whether you're going to cut them as a one bone or two bone serving, and as you're cleaning up that bone, make sure that [00:32:00] the knife you're using is very sharp.