You guys. This is the best piece of meat I’ve made in a long time. Hands down, it’s one of my favorite cuts.
What is a cowboy steak?
A cowboy steak is a thick, bone-in rib steak with the bone Frenched to create its signature “tomahawk” look.
So you’re taking one of these:
And quickly turning it into this glorious thing with a few whacks and scrapes of a very sharp knife.
(No idea how to French a bone? Don’t sweat it. I’m going to show you in a sec. It’s really easy.)
So, this is the same kind of meat as traditional prime rib, but cut into a single, He-Man sized steak.
(Want to make a big prime rib roast? Try my easy recipe here.)
It will serve one really hungry guest, or two more modest eaters.
It’s a great way to get a really impressive, festive meal on the table with minimal effort.
If you want to feed 4 people, get 2 steaks. Make each in its own pan. Just be sure your oven will fit both pans at once…
This pan roasting technique is a great way to produce juicy, perfectly cooked steaks.
For this recipe, I coated the steak with a spicy rub laced with chili powder and fragrant ground coffee.
(This recipe makes enough rub to cook your steak and have some leftover for next time.)
The steak gets a quick sear on each side in a really hot pan.
(All those browned bits? That’s pure flavor.)
Then, you finish it in the oven until it’s done to your liking.
(Test it quickly with a meat thermometer. This is a pricier piece of meat, so you def don’t want to overcook it.)
Like I said: So. Simple.
Be sure to use a pan that’s oven safe. Me? I always reach for my trusty cast iron Le Creuset frying pan for something like this.
(I found mine at a thrift store more than 20 years ago, but Amazon sells them new here if you’re after one. Lodge also sells great inexpensive cast iron frying pans. I have both brands and love ’em both.)
Cast iron pans hold heat really well, which I find helps promote even cooking.
How to buy cowboy steaks
Ask your butcher for a bone-in rib eye steak that’s about 2 inches thick.
Look for meat that’s well marbled, which means it’s shot through with thin veins of fat. The fat on the steak should be creamy white, and the meat should be a nice dark red.
Avoid steaks that are browned on the edges or that have an uneven tone to the meat.
If you don’t feel like trimming the bone yourself, ask your butcher if they’ll take care of it. Chances are, they’d be happy to.
How to French the bone on a cowboy steak
Never done this before? It’s super simple. Here’s are detailed instructions.
Grab your rib eye steak, and carefully cut ALL the meat and fat away from the skinny end of the bone, like this:
As you get one side clear, you’ll see the bone, which will make the other sides go faster.
Once you’ve cut away all the big meaty parts, scrape down the bone to remove any little shreds still stuck on there.
Don’t make yourself crazy with this. This is a big, primal, lusty piece of meat.
Any little bits of fat and meat left on the bone will turn a glorious brown in the oven and will add to the visual impact of the final dish.
(Check out this final roasted bone and judge for yourself.)
If you need more meaty instruction, here’s how one butcher breaks down a full rib eye into individual cowboy steaks.
(Note, he’s splitting each bone in half to make 2 steaks, so his are thinner than what we’re making here today.)
Alright, enough talking! Let’s get to the stove!
Cowboy Steak with Coffee Rub (Pan Roasted Rib Eye)
2 lb. bone-in rib eye steak, with the bone Frenched (about 2 inches thick)
1 1/2 Tbls. kosher salt
1 1/2 Tbls. ground coffee
1 1/2 Tbls. dark brown sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 Tablespoon chili powder
1 1/2 teaspoons ground ginger
1 1/2 teaspoons onion powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
Preheat your oven
Preheat your oven to 350-degrees F.
Make the coffee rub
Put all the ingredients for the coffee rub in a bowl. Whisk together until well combined and uniform.
Transfer your coffee rub to a jar with a good lid. You’ll use some for this recipe, and will have enough to have some leftover for next time.
(This rub is great on any kind of beef.)
Season the cowboy steak
Grab your steak. I got mine at Tendercrop Farm, a farm in Newbury, MA with great grass-fed meat and a super accommodating butcher counter.
French the bone (using the step-by-step instructions above), then rub it liberally on all sides with your coffee rub.
This is imprecise. Use enough to coat it well.
Sear the cowboy steak
Grab a heavy-bottomed, oven-safe frying pan. Cast iron is ideal for this.
Drizzle a little olive oil in the pan, enough to coat the bottom of the pan lightly. Set it on the stove over high heat.
When the oil is hot (it’ll shimmer), set your seasoned cowboy steak in the pan.
Cook on high heat, without moving or flipping it, for about 4 minutes, or until it’s developed a nice dark brown crust on that side.
When your steak has a nice crust on the bottom, flip it over.
Sear it for about another 4 minutes on this side, or until it has a matching brown crust.
When it’s browned on the other side, remove the pan from the stove.
Finish the cowboy steak in the oven
Pop the hot pan straight into your preheated, 350-degree F oven. (Be careful, everything about this situation is HOT, HOT, HOT!)
Roast your cowboy steak for 5-15 minutes, depending on how thick your steak is and how rare you’d like it cooked.
For rare, pull it out of the oven when it reaches an internal temperature of 120 degrees F on a meat thermometer.
Take the temp in the center of the steak, and be sure not to touch the bone with the thermometer, which can skew your reading.
When it’s done to your liking, remove the pan from the oven and set it on a rack.
Transfer the steak to a plate immediately.
Tent with a piece of aluminum foil for 5-10 minutes to let the meat rest, which helps keep it juicy.
Serve and enjoy!
After it’s rested, plate your steak up and serve!
You can choose to serve it as one giant hunk o’ meat, or slice it for a fancier presentation (which also makes sharing easier).
How do you like your steak?
I like sliced, myself. The Angry Chef prefers his whole. Have you tried this recipe, or cooked cowboy steaks before? Leave a comment below, let us know how it went!