What Is A Cowboy Cut Steak And What Sets It Apart From Regular Ribeye?

Steak night's a good one — a well-prepared slab of beef seldom disappoints. Yet while the meal requires only one star ingredient, it does require a bit of know-how. From which cut to choose to how to cook it, a lot of effort goes into the perfect bite of beef. So next time you're inspecting the selections at the butcher counter, avoid disappointment by going for a cowboy cut steak.  

Also known as a tomahawk or Delmonico, this large hunk of beef is a dependably tasty steak. This particular cut — which is usually in hefty sizes of 18 to 32 ounces — is actually part of a ribeye. However, unlike a normal ribeye, not only is the cowboy-cut steak twice as thick but the bone is left in, too.

The amount of bone varies based on the type of cowboy. When most of the rib is still attached, with the meat untrimmed, it's sold as a tomahawk. However, when the bone's cut down, it's called a Delmonico, which is still twice as thick as a normal ribeye steak. Regardless of the bone's length, its inclusion has many benefits — let's dive into why.

Bone-in cowboy steaks offer better flavor along with other benefits

When selecting a cut, the flavor's undoubtedly one of the first considerations. Leaving the bone in does improve the taste. By not deboning the steak, you prevent the meat's natural juices from leaking out. A shield against a primary beef woe — well-done meat — leaving the bone in allows the interior to retain its juices, fats, and other components that all add to the meat's flavor. 

Additionally, the steak's thickness helps it from drying out or becoming well done but does mean the steak requires a longer cooking time. It takes nearly 10 extra minutes to grill a cowboy-cut steak vs a ribeye (depending on thickness). Not only will the cowboy-cut steak be less likely to dry out, but it absorbs more smokey flavor during cooking, too. Add in cowboy steak's delectable marbling, and you have quite a tasty cut.

Finally, there's the visual factor. With the tomahawk cut, there's a viscerally appealing element to the protruding bone. Sure, this type of ribeye may cost a bit more per pound, but the splurge makes steak night memorable.