Cookbooks are really not the right tool for distributing large files like that, so you did the right thing by not using cookbook_file.
When your file is such a large percentage of the total memory, I expect that remote_file’s internal implementation is too inefficient. If I was to venture a guess, the problem may be that remote_file computes a hash of file, and may keep the file in memory for that purpose.
Try replacing remote_file with an execute resource that uses curl, or maybe a bash resource.
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