There's something special about sinking your teeth into a perfectly cooked Texas T-bone steak. This famous cut combines the rich flavor of the New York strip with the melt-in-your-mouth tenderness of the filet mignon, making it a favorite among steak lovers. In this post, we'll explore the best way to select, season and cook your T-bone steak.
- T-bone steaks
- Kosher salt
- Black pepper
- Olive oil
See the recipe card for quantities.
Selecting the Right Steak
The first step is to select a high-quality T-bone steak from your local butcher. Choose a nice thick steak because it’s a lot easier to cook a thick steak to the correct temperature. A thin steak will cook too fast and is more likely to be overdone on your plate.
High quality meat also makes a difference. Look for some nice marbling throughout the meat. All that fat will melt during the cooking process, imparting a rich, juicy flavor to the steak. Select a prime T-bone steak if one is available. Prime meat will have more marbling than choice meat and that translates into more flavor.
Preparing the Steak
Take the T-bone out of the refrigerator about an hour before cooking to let it come up close to room temperature. This helps ensure even cooking, otherwise the outside will be overdone by the time the inside is just done if cooked on a grill.
For optimal flavor, season both sides of the steak with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. For something different, consider using a bit of spice rub. My personal preference is to use Montreal Steak Seasoning, but not how it is intended. It is supposed to be used as a marinade, but I just sprinkle it generously on both sides before grilling. It gives the cooked steak a bit of a crunch that my family likes. Rubbing the steak with a little olive oil first will help it stick.
The next decision is the cooking method that you want to use. A wood-fired pellet grill, a classic charcoal grill, a gas grill and a ceramic cooker like a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe will all work well. Regardless of the grill used, the reverse sear method is an absolute game-changer for a big, thick T-bone steak.
The key is to first cook the T-bone over indirect heat at a low temperature. Cook the steak to an internal temperature 5° below your desired doneness. Measure the temperature with an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the steak. The cooking time will vary depending on your grill temperature and the temperature of your steak before it hits the grill. After a brief rest, sear the steak over high heat for a moment or two. More on the reverse sear method below.
Configuring for a Low Temperature
A ceramic cooker, like a Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe, is easy to configure for indirect cooking for the initial slow cook cycle. Just set it up for 250°F. A temperature-control device, like a Fireboard, is essential to cooking low and slow on a ceramic cooker. It will monitor the internal temperature of the steak while controlling that ambient temperature inside the cooker. Watch my video on Why You Need a Temperature Control Device for more information.
Indirect cooking on a gas grill is a bit trickier. Let one side of the grill get hot and keep the other side on low heat or off, depending on the power of your grill. Do the initial cooking on the cooler side. A charcoal grill can be configured for indirect cooking by moving all of the coals over to one side and cooking on the other side.
A great option is to forego the initial cooking on a grill altogether and use a sous-vide bath for the initial cooking. This technique is used in a lot of steakhouses. Set the sous-vide bath for the desired doneness, say 133°F, seal the steaks in food saver bags and drop them in. The steaks will be perfectly cooked at 133°F all the way through. Since the water is 133°F, the steaks will never go above that temperature so it’s fairly easy to get a steak to the exact doneness that you prefer. When done, just the finish the steaks with a reverse sear on a hot grill to give them a nice crust. This is now my preferred method for cooking all steaks.
During the first part of the cooking process, check the internal temperature with a reliable instant-read thermometer. Remove the steak from the grill when the internal temperature is 5°F below the target temperature. Measure the temperature by placing the temperature probe in the center of the steak away from the bone. For a medium-rare steak (133°F), remove the steak at 128°F because it will continue to cook after it comes off the grill. Of course, this is a lot easier if you have already cooked the steaks in a sous-vide bath to an internal temperature of 133°F.
Be careful if using something like a Fireboard to measure the internal temperature while cooking on a gas or charcoal grill. Most probes cannot handle high temperatures and it’s easy to burn up a probe with a flare up or mistakenly cooking over direct heat. Always have extra probes on hand just in case.
After the T-bone has been slow-cooked over low, indirect heat (about 250°F) until it reaches an internal temperature 5°F below your desired doneness, take the steak off the grill and cover it loosely with aluminum foil. Let it rest for 5-10 minutes while you reconfigure your grill for direct heat and crank up the temperature to 550 - 600°F.
Place the T-bone on the grill grates directly over an open flame and cook for 1 – 2 minutes per side. That will create a flavorful crust while preserving the perfectly cooked center. Searing directly over a charcoal flame will impart a hint of smokiness to the T-bone that a lot of folks in Texas prefer. A hot cast iron skillet will also provide a nice sear, but at the risk of messing up the coveted seasoning on the cast iron. Regardless how your T-bone is seared, the Maillard reaction will form a nice brown crust which will lock in juices and enhance both flavor and texture.
Enhance your Texas T-bone experience by accompanying it with some delicious sides. Consider Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Guanciale or Creamed Corn with Poblano Peppers. Some warm Cast Iron Skillet Jalapeño Cornbread would also taste great.
Fun Fact: A T-Bone is known as a Porterhouse steak when the filet portion is at least 1.25” wide from the bone to the edge of the meat.
Cooking the perfect Texas T-bone steak is a process that combines a bit of both art and science. Experiment with different cooking techniques and temperatures to find your ideal method for cooking this wonderful cut of beef. The real key is it enjoy the cooking process before you sink your teeth into that perfectly cooked T-bone steak. Enjoy!
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Reverse Seared Texas T-Bone Steak Recipe
- 2 T-bone steaks cut thick
- .5 teaspoon kosher salt
- .5 teaspoon black pepper
- 2 teaspoons olive oil
- Take the steaks out of the refrigerator an hour before cooking to let them warm up.
- Rub a little olive oil on both sides of the steaks and season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper.
- Configure your grill for indirect cooking at 250°F. Place steaks on the grill and cook to an internal temperature 5°F below your desired doneness. For a medium-rare steak (133°F), cook to an internal temperature of 128°F. Alternatively, cook the steaks in a sous-vide bath.
- Remove the steaks and let them rest, loosely covered with aluminum foil, for 5 minutes while you reconfigure the grill for direct heat and raise to temperature to 550 - 600°F.
- Sear the steaks over the hot grill for 1 to 2 minutes per side and serve.