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What Is a Cowboy Steak?

7 Mins read

When it comes to indulging in the world of steaks, one particular cut that stands out is the legendary Cowboy Steak. But what is a Cowboy Steak? Well, prepare yourself for a culinary adventure as we delve into the depths of this meaty delight. The Cowboy Steak, also known as a bone-in ribeye or tomahawk steak, is a carnivorous masterpiece that embodies the essence of the American West.

What Is a Cowboy Steak?

A Cowboy Steak, also known as a tomahawk steak or a bone-in ribeye steak, is a thick and juicy cut of beef that is renowned for its flavor and impressive presentation. This particular steak is named after its association with the Wild West and the rugged lifestyle of cowboys.

The Cowboy Steak is cut from the rib section of the beef, specifically from the ribeye primal cut. It is characterized by its large size and the bone left intact, which is usually around 6 to 8 inches long. The bone is frenched, meaning it has been cleaned of meat and fat, leaving a clean and exposed bone, resembling a tomahawk axe, thus giving the steak its alternative name.

One of the defining features of the Cowboy Steak is its exceptional marbling. Marbling refers to the streaks of fat that run through the muscle fibers of the meat. This marbling is responsible for the steak’s rich flavor, tenderness, and juiciness. As the steak cooks, the fat melts and bastes the meat, resulting in a melt-in-your-mouth texture and a savory taste.

Due to its thickness and bone-in nature, the Cowboy Steak requires special attention when it comes to cooking. Grilling is the preferred method for preparing this steak, as it allows for the development of a flavorful crust on the outside while ensuring even cooking throughout. The bone also helps retain moisture and adds extra flavor to the meat.

To enhance the natural flavors of the Cowboy Steak, it is often seasoned with simple ingredients such as salt, pepper, and sometimes a drizzle of olive oil. This allows the quality and tenderness of the beef to shine through without overpowering it with excessive seasonings or sauces. However, some enthusiasts may choose to add their favorite rubs or marinades to further enhance the taste.

The Cowboy Steak is typically served as a single portion due to its substantial size, which can range from 2 to 3 pounds or even more. Its generous proportions make it an ideal choice for sharing or for those with a hearty appetite. When presented on a plate, the Cowboy Steak exudes a sense of rustic elegance, making it an impressive centerpiece for any meal.

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Why is it Called a Cowboy Steak?

The Cowboy Steak is called so due to its association with the cowboy culture and the American West. The name evokes images of rugged cowboys, open plains, and campfire feasts, where hearty meals were a staple of their daily lives.

The steak earned its moniker because it embodies the essence of cowboy-style cooking. Cowboys, working on ranches and spending long hours outdoors, needed substantial and flavorful meals to sustain their physical demands. The Cowboy Steak, with its large size and impressive bone-in presentation, became a favorite among cowboys as it provided a substantial and satisfying dining experience.

The steak’s alternative name, tomahawk steak, is derived from the shape of the bone left intact on the cut. The long bone, resembling a tomahawk axe, adds visual appeal and a touch of dramatic flair to the steak, further enhancing its association with the Wild West and the cowboy way of life.

While the exact origins of the name are not definitive, it is believed that the term “Cowboy Steak” gained popularity through the culinary and barbecue traditions of the American West. As these traditions spread, the name stuck, and the Cowboy Steak became synonymous with a large, bone-in ribeye steak that pays homage to the rugged and adventurous spirit of cowboys.

Today, the name “Cowboy Steak” has become widely recognized and used in the culinary world, representing a specific cut of beef that is beloved for its size, flavor, and connection to the cowboy culture.

How Big is a Cowboy Steak?

A Cowboy Steak is known for its substantial size, making it a feast-worthy cut of beef. On average, a Cowboy Steak typically weighs around 2 to 3 pounds (0.9 to 1.4 kilograms). However, the weight can vary depending on the specific butcher or restaurant, and some steaks can even exceed 3 pounds.

In addition to its weight, the Cowboy Steak is also characterized by its thickness. It is generally cut to be quite thick, often around 2 inches (5 centimeters) or more. This thickness allows for proper cooking and searing while retaining the desired level of doneness.

The impressive size of the Cowboy Steak makes it ideal for sharing or for those with a hearty appetite. Its generous proportions can provide a satisfying and indulgent dining experience. It’s worth noting that due to its size, cooking a Cowboy Steak may require slightly longer cooking times compared to thinner cuts of beef.

When served, the Cowboy Steak’s large size and bone-in presentation create a visually striking centerpiece on the plate. The bone, which is often frenched for a cleaner appearance, adds an element of appeal to the overall presentation.

It’s important to consider the size and weight of the Cowboy Steak when planning to cook or order one. Proper preparation and cooking techniques are necessary to ensure that the steak is cooked evenly and reaches the desired level of doneness while maintaining its exceptional flavor and tenderness.

Other Names for Cowboy Steak

Aside from being called a Cowboy Steak, this particular cut of beef is also known by a few other names:

Tomahawk Steak: This name is derived from the long bone left intact on the steak, resembling a tomahawk axe. The term “tomahawk steak” is often used interchangeably with Cowboy Steak.

Bone-in Ribeye: The Cowboy Steak is essentially a bone-in ribeye steak, as it is cut from the rib section of the beef. The bone left attached enhances the flavor and presentation of the steak.

Flintstone Steak: This playful name references the Flintstones cartoon, where oversized and prehistoric-sized cuts of meat were commonly depicted. The Cowboy Steak’s large size and bone-in presentation resemble the extravagant cuts of meat featured in the show.

Côte de Boeuf: This French term translates to “rib of beef” and refers to a bone-in ribeye steak, similar to the Cowboy Steak. It is a popular name used in French cuisine and reflects the traditional preparation and presentation of the cut.

Where Does Cowboy Steak Come From?

The Cowboy Steak is cut from the rib section of the beef, specifically from the ribeye primal cut. The ribeye primal cut is located between the chuck (shoulder) and the short loin (rear portion) of the animal.

More specifically, the Cowboy Steak is typically taken from the ribeye subprimal cut, which is a large section of meat that includes several individual ribeye steaks. The ribeye is subprimal and extends from ribs six through twelve.

To create a Cowboy Steak, a butcher or chef will typically select a ribeye steak from the ribeye subprimal and leave the bone attached, creating a bone-in ribeye steak. The bone is often frenched, meaning it is cleaned of meat and fat to expose the bone for an aesthetically pleasing presentation.

The specific sourcing of the beef used for Cowboy Steaks can vary. It is commonly sourced from beef cattle such as Angus, Hereford, or Wagyu, known for their high-quality meat and desirable marbling.

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What Does Cowboy Steak Taste Like?

Cowboy Steak, also known as a tomahawk or bone-in ribeye steak, offers a rich and flavorful taste that is highly sought after by meat lovers. The combination of marbling, bone-in cooking, and proper preparation contributes to its exceptional flavor profile.

The marbling within the Cowboy Steak plays a significant role in its taste. Marbling refers to the streaks of intramuscular fat found throughout the meat. These fat deposits melt during cooking, infusing the steak with a buttery richness and enhancing its tenderness. The marbling also adds depth and complexity to the flavor, resulting in a well-rounded and indulgent taste experience.

Due to its bone-in nature, Cowboy Steak benefits from the additional flavors imparted by the bone during cooking. The bone acts as a conductor of heat and helps distribute flavors throughout the meat, adding a subtle, savory note. This enhances the overall taste and contributes to the steak’s succulence.

When properly cooked, a Cowboy Steak boasts a robust and beefy flavor that is often described as juicy and mouthwatering. The high-quality beef used for Cowboy Steaks, such as Angus or Wagyu, further elevates the taste, with their distinct flavor profiles and tenderness.

The cooking method also plays a role in determining the final taste of a Cowboy Steak. Grilling is a popular choice for cooking this steak, as it imparts smoky flavors and creates a delicious crust on the outside. The seared exterior, combined with the perfectly cooked interior, results in a contrast of textures and flavors that enhance the overall taste sensation.

The taste of a Cowboy Steak can be enhanced or complemented by various seasonings or sauces. However, many steak enthusiasts prefer to let the natural flavors of the beef shine by using simple seasonings, such as salt, pepper, and a drizzle of olive oil. This minimalist approach allows the meat’s inherent flavors to take center stage.

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Cowboy Steak Nutrition Facts

Cowboy Steak, like other cuts of beef, provides essential nutrients and can be part of a balanced diet. Here are some detailed nutrition facts for a typical serving of Cowboy Steak:

Serving Size: The nutrition facts may vary depending on the specific weight of the steak, but for reference, let’s consider a serving size of 8 ounces (226 grams).

Calories: A 8-ounce serving of Cowboy Steak contains approximately 600 to 700 calories. The calorie content can vary depending on the marbling and fat content of the specific cut.

Protein: Cowboy Steak is a rich source of protein. An 8-ounce serving can provide around 60 to 70 grams of protein, which is beneficial for muscle growth, repair, and overall body functioning.

Fat: The fat content in Cowboy Steak comes from both intramuscular fat (marbling) and external fat. A typical serving can contain around 40 to 50 grams of fat. This includes saturated fats, which should be consumed in moderation as part of a balanced diet.

Cholesterol: Beef, including Cowboy Steak, contains cholesterol. An 8-ounce serving can provide approximately 150 to 200 milligrams of cholesterol. It is recommended to consume cholesterol in moderation as part of a healthy eating plan.

Vitamins and Minerals: Cowboy Steak is a good source of several essential vitamins and minerals. It contains significant amounts of vitamins B12, B6, and niacin. It also provides minerals like iron, zinc, selenium, and phosphorus.

Sodium: The sodium content in Cowboy Steak is relatively low naturally, but it can vary depending on the seasoning and cooking method used. It is important to consider the overall sodium intake when incorporating the steak into your diet.

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About author
As the founder and chief editor of Scills Grill, I'm a self-proclaimed BBQ nut. I love cooking outdoors over live fire and smoke, no matter the weather. I use various grills, smokers, and wood-fired ovens to produce epic food. Peter Cobbetts is the president and founder of Scills Grill, with over 15 years' experience in barbecue. He's an exceptional pitmaster and grill expert who specializes in smoking briskets, pork shoulders - using charcoal, wood or propane grills/smokers - as well as reviewing kitchen appliances such as grills, smokers etc., having tried out almost every model available on the market.
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