The tomahawk is usually associated with beef and that massive steak and a 12-14 inch bone handle that is oh so impressive and over sensationalized on the Gram, by this guy more than most. But that same cut on the cow is also on the pig and when we find this cut on the pig, the bone runs along the belly so while the steak tomahawk has a naked bone 99.9% of the time because beef belly doesn’t have the same sexy, succulent reputation that pork belly has. Pork belly is where we get bacon! So reverse seared tomahawk pork chops with pork belly on the bone may be the awesomest cut of meat on the pig or any animal, ever:
I mean seriously! Look at these gorgeous hunks of meat:
And of course, if you give me some tomahawk pork chops like this, I’m gonna ham it up:
Finding tomahawk pork chops with the pork belly on the bone is not always easy. For a more traditional bone in pork chop recipe, check with my friends over at Vindulge.
How does one get tomahawk pork chops with belly still on the bone? Well, ask Santa, obviously:
Actually, the Santa I went to is the Meat Santa known as David Sandusky who owns Beast Butcher and Block in St. Louis:
Get him some white hair dye for that beard and a red hat/coat and that guy could be a skinny Santa!
Any time I need anything meat related that I can’t find near my home, I send this guy a text. He has never told me he can’t do something. I really wish I hadn’t been able to find a pork crown roast near my home. Because had I gotten it from Meat Santa here, it would’ve been right. For me, it’s not a short drive to get to Beastcraft, and it’s not the cheapest place to get meat, but the meat is absolutely amazing and always exactly what I need. There’s a certain amount of relief when I reach out to David because I know what I need will be covered. Back to these monsters.
So the outside edge of these tomahawks had a layer of the pig skin and the fat was pretty thick so I trimmed some of that off and instead of throwing it away, tossed it on a smoker with some rub. We almost forgot about it as we were filming all sorts of amazing recipes (including that pork crown roast). After a couple hours in a 300F degree smoker, the seasoned fat and skin was looking phenomenal. The skin was starting to pop like chicharrónes.
So I cranked up the grill and set a cast iron pan right over the coals and gave the smoked pig skin and pork belly a sear and then they really popped:
Chop those into bite side portions, add a little extra seasoning and enjoy the explosive crunch:
I didn’t do anything to the pig skin, but would highly recommend doing a dry marinade of 1 part baking powder and 4 parts salt overnight. Wipe that stuff off the next day, season and smoke until they start popping on the skin then give them a sear. It’s next to impossible to dry these out. I had left the tomahawk chops in the fridge a couple days before we cooked them so they must’ve dried out a bit in the fridge. The science is this, if there is too much moisture in the fat and skin, we won’t get that crackling on the skin.
Before we get to the real recipe, I want to answer a question.
What is the secret to making tender and juicy pork chops?
The key is to reverse sear the chops. By slow cooking the pork it breaks down the connective tissues while keeping the juice inside the meat. Then, we do the sear at the end after the chops have come up just short of the target temperature. Speaking of that target temperature. We only need to cook pork chops to 145F according to the USDA which means a little pink is just fine and thus the meat will be more tender and juicy.
OK, back to the bone in pork chop recipe.
Reverse Seared Tomahawk Pork Chops Ingredients:
- 4 tomahawk pork chops with pork belly on the bone
- Your favorite barbecue rub
- Salt to taste
- Your favorite dipping sauce
You can see that I only reverse sear two tomahawk chops in this recipe. There aren’t really any measurements with these ingredients. Two of these will easily feed four people. Four will feed eight. Just be cognizant of the room you have on the grill. These chops are not small.
Season the pork chops with your favorite rub. I used the DB180 General Purpose rub which is one of my favorite rubs on robust meats like beef and pork:
I like to cut slits along the outside edge of the chops:
Then I give them a dose of the DB180:
If the rub you choose has salt listed as one of the first couple ingredients, you probably don’t need any extra salt. If it’s down the list past the 4th or 5th spot, then you probably need some salt.
How to Cook Reverse Seared Tomahawk Pork Chops:
Prepare the American Made Hasty Bake grill for two zone or indirect grilling. That means the hot Rockwood charcoal (also made in the USA) on one side and nothing on the other. Place the chops on the side of the grill with no direct heat and drop a couple chunks of smoke wood. We used pear wood. If you don’t have pear wood but want to know if the wood you have access to would work well with these chops, we have a list of a TON of different smoke woods and what they pair well with.
Here are our tomahawk pork chops on the Hasty Bake Legacy 131 about to get a smoke bath:
Here’s a view from above showing that Rockwood lump charcoal which makes sure the only flavor the chops take on is the smoke rather than the petroleum fillers of briquettes:
Target temp inside the grill is 300F (+/- 25F).
Also, those chops are seasoned. The DB180 General Purpose rub doesn’t have any paprika or chili powder which gives BBQ seasoning that distinctive red color. This stuff is white with some small flakes of pepper and thus it disappears into the meat as it dissolves on the surface and so in that pic it looks like the chops aren’t seasoned. They are seasoned well.
Smoke the tomahawk pork chops until they reach 130F-135F. Then crank up the heat on the grill. For the Hasty Bake we raise the charcoal bed up with a handy hand crank on the side. When the charcoal is right below the grill grates, I decided to drop a cast iron griddle over the coals:
When my cast iron griddle reads north of 400F, I can get my sear:
The goal here is to get some nice char on the tomahawk chops (as well as get them up to that 145F), so leave them in place until they brown and flip them over:
Then get char on the other side:
Also, don’t forget to crisp up the fat around the outside edge of the chops. I put these two reverse seared tomahawk pork chops side by side and held the outer edge to the cast iron:
The sear on the outside and the outer edge will take the internal temp of the pork chops above 145F which is all we need to take pork chops to. Yes, we only have to cook pork to medium rare according to the USDA.
These are ready to come off the grill and rest:
After a good five minutes of resting, let’s slice:
A little pink means these pork chops are perfect:
Yep, these chops are dripping they are so juicy:
The Best way to Serve a Tomahawk Pork chop:
Deconstruct the cut by slicing along the edge of the bone and then slice in a radial pattern perpendicular to the curve of the bone. Reconstruct the chop by placing the meat, bone and whatever dipping sauces you like on a live edge cutting board:
The sauces we used were chimichurri and a raspberry barbecue sauce which were surprisingly good both individually AND together:
These tomahawk pork chops are not cheap. They are cheaper than the higher end steak cuts like beef tenderloin and rib eye, but more expensive than regular pork chops. But these are sort of a special occasion cut. This is one epic chunk of pork. I highly recommend these if you can find your own Meat Santa to cut them special for you.
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Reverse Seared Tomahawk Pork Chops
- 4 Tomahawk pork chops With pork belly attached to the bone
- Your favorite BBQ seasoning
- Salt to taste
- Your favorite dipping sauces for pork
- Season the tomahawk pork chops with your favorite BBQ seasoning and salt if necessary
- Prepare grill for two zone grilling with charcoal on one side and nothing on the other
- Put the chops on the side with no coals and throw a couple chunks of smoke wood on the hot charcoal
- Target temperature inside the grill is 300F (+/-25F)
- Smoke the pork chops until they reach 130F-135F
- Once the tomahawk pork chops reach 130F-135F crank up the heat and set a cast iron griddle over the coals
- When the griddle goes north of 400F, place the chops on the cast iron to get a good sear on each side
- Once both sides are charred, make sure to place the pork chops on the outside edge to crisp up the fat around the outer edge
- Once the outside of the chops are charred and the outer edge of fat is crisped up, and the internal temperature is north of 145F, remove the tomahawks from the heat and allow to rest for at least 5 minutes
- Once the chops have rested, slice along the bone and set that aside and then slice in a radial pattern perpendicular to the curve of the bone and then reconstruct the meat and the bone on a distinctive cutting board or platter and lay down a couple dipping sauces