subscribe: Posts | Comments

Pin It

A Midwestern BBQ Staple – Pork Steaks

27 comments

Pork Steaks - 175

If you are not from the Midwest, and particularly St. Louis where they were invented, you are probably asking what exactly is a pork steak. Originally considered just a St. Louis thing it is now pretty prevalent throughout the Midwest due to its low price, ease of preparation, tenderness, great flavor and the vast multitude of preparation/cooking options.

A pork steak can be prepared in a multitude of ways. It can be marinated, rubbed, brined, sauced, or left naked.  Once on the grill it can be smoked, indirected or grilled directly. It can be made spicy or sweet or salty or any combination there of. One of my favorite ways of cooking these is indirect with nothing more than salt and black pepper. The most common method of grilling pork steaks is to slather them in your favorite BBQ sauce. Another beautiful thing about pork steaks is they hold up well for large groups in that they can be stacked up in a disposable aluminum pan, slathered in sauce and kept warm and tender for hours.

For this post it will be a tag team between myself and Dad. Dad will go over exactly how to get a pork steak in areas that carry pork shoulder/butts but don’t have pork steaks and I will go over one of the many ways to cook pork steaks.

What is a Pork Steak?

Outside of the Midwest region of the country (where pork steaks are an extremely popular grilling staple) they aren’t well known and retail grocers do not offer this particularly tasty cut of pork. My cousin, Carol, lives in Maryland and has used the information provided here to obtain pork steaks in her area where they are not normally available. You can obtain them most everywhere if your local purveyor handles whole Boston butt or pork butt roast or any of the myriad of other names such as the pork shoulder butt shown below:

Mateker Meat and Catering - 075

Pork steaks are also known as blade steaks and simply put, pork steaks are merely a sliced Boston pork butt or pork shoulder or pork butt, or…

***Editor’s Note ~ But why is it called a butt?  It’s not from the butt of the pig, it’s a shoulder.  And what does Boston have to do with it? The reason is that this cut of meat was often sent on old wooden sailing ships to feed the crew.  They were packed with salt in huge barrels called butts.  And those butts (which were really just barrels) were often sent to Boston as it was the primary port for our country at the time when the name took. That’s how a pork shoulder became known as a Boston butt***

To help show you what a pork steak is, we went to the best butcher in town, Mataker Meats and Catering and had Charlie Mateker cut us a few.

This is what the whole butt looks like prior to Charlie performing his craft with this tasty cut:

Mateker Meat and Catering - 080

After slicing off the fat from the end, Charlie feeds the pork shoulder to the band saw:

Pork Steaks Collage

The Boston butt is sliced into steaks (usually ½” to 1 1/4” thickness) on the saw:

Mateker Meat and Catering - 109

Not all butchers will slice the whole butt into pork steaks. Some save a portion of one end to sell as a small roast and sell the small end pieces as finger ribs which many think are the tastiest part. The steaks cut from the middle are known as center cut pork steaks:

Mateker Meat and Catering - 104

Some grocers slice the entire Butt and that’s referred to as whole butt sliced into pork steaks and usually offered at a lower retail price since the smaller end pieces are included.

Finally we have view of the pork steak from above so you get an idea of exactly what it looks like:

Mateker Meat and Catering - 114

Our thanks Charlie for helping out explaining the illusive pork steak. And if you are looking for a fantastic butcher shop, it doesn’t get any better than Mateker’s. Scott will have a review of all that Mateker’s has to offer soon.

Hopefully you’ll be able to take this information to your local butcher (careful here, they usually prefer to be called meat-cutters) and obtain pork steaks in your area. Watch your local ads for the roasts to be on sale to save a few dollars during these difficult economic times and approach your retailer then. I’ve had them many ways—thick-thin-marinated-glazed-simmered in sauce and so forth and they are always enjoyable.

***Editor’s note – now Scott takes over with the cooking of the amazing pork steak***

Now, time to discuss exactly how to grill these pork delicacies. The good news is that the pork steak has a great deal of fat and collagen inside so they are very forgiving and thus they don’t dry out very quickly. And while they can be grilled many different ways, we have found this to be the best process. And that process is the reverse sear method. Other than the method, I’m going to keep this recipe incredibly simple.

Pork Steak Ingredients:

6 pork steaks, each an inch thick (do not go with anything thinner than an inch)
Coarse salt
BBQ rub
BBQ sauce

Here are those beautiful pork steaks laid out on a platter:

Pork Steaks - 005

Now hit them with a nice coating of coarse salt:

Pork Steaks - 007

Then hit it with the rub, in this case the Code 3 Spices 5-0 Rub:

Pork Steaks - 023

Pork Steaks - 025

Flip them over and repeat the process on the other side. Now, head out to set up the grill for two zone/indirect grilling. What is that? It means charcoal on one side and nothing on the other:

Pork Steaks - 042

Putting coals on one side, and the meat on the other, allows the meat to cook slowly, breaking down that fat and collagen and turning pork steak into juicy, delicious pork steaks:

Pork Steaks - 041

So place the smoke wood on the side with the coals and the meat on the other side:

Pork Steaks - 047

Notice, I moved the left grill grate over to on top of the one right to the right of it. This will make it easier for adding more smoke wood and charcoal later on. Target temperature inside the grill is 300:

Pork Steaks - 065

Take one last look at what will soon be pork perfection:

Pork Steaks - 055

Now close the lid and allow the smoke to work it’s sweet magic! For this we used a combo of cherry and hickory:

Pork Steaks - 045

For the most complete list of smoke woods and what meats they pair well with on the internet, click this link.

At the 30 minute mark, they are bronzing up nicely:

Pork Steaks - 066

But I’m out of smoke wood, so a couple chunks are added:

Pork Steaks - 074

At the 60 minute mark, the pork steaks are sitting about 150 degrees and ready for the sear:

Pork Steaks - 075

Notice I haven’t moved them once. I never flipped them, rotated them, nudged them, nothing:

Pork Steaks - 083

I’ll wait if you want to scroll back up and see that first picture of them on the grill…

OK, now on to getting these bad boys seared. I add fresh charcoal to the bed of coals and wait for them to get wicked hot:

Pork Steaks - 085

Now place the pork steaks over the hot coals:

Pork Steaks - 092

They only need a couple minutes on each side to get that beautiful flavor char. Once both sides are charred, move back to the side with no heat and hit them with your favorite BBQ sauce:

Pork Steaks - 128

Pork Steaks - 132

Pork Steaks - 141

Normally, I would only submit one picture at this point, but they all looked so good, I had to give a couple bonuses. Basically, extra BBQ sauce porn! Oh, wait, forgot one. Here are all pork steaks, sauced on one side, flipped and sauced on this side:

Pork Steaks - 154

Close the lid and allow the BBQ sauce to thicken and get really gooey and sticky. You can go about 10 minutes and hit them with another coating of sauce, close the lid and then remove from the grill. These are about 160 degrees internal temperature and ready to eat:

Pork Steaks - 160

And here they are on the platter, resting for a couple minutes before being served:

Pork Steaks - 167

The reverse sear method ensures that the meat has multiple layers of flavor. There’s the sultry smoke, the savory rub, the succulent sear of the caramelized proteins, and the satisfying sauce. Once you try this method, you will never go back.

If you have any questions about what a pork steak is, email Dad, or about the recipe, email me.

Pin It
  • mac24312

    This look GREAT..I am going to fix this on my Gas Cast Iron Grill on Direct heat and then when I get my CG Grill next week I will fix them on that..LOOK Great again!!

    HUGS
    Christina

  • Denny

    Mala22

    I always use beer in my sauce for pork steaks.All beer has an ingredient in that breaks down proteins in the meat.

    Remember to always simmer your sauce uncovered to allow the alcohol to evaporate completely or it will turn bitter.

    Love your blog

  • GrillinFools

    Denny,

    A beer is a must for any sauce. As is cooking it down. I prefer to use a microbrew or an import over the standard New American Light Lagers (Bud, Bud Light, Coors, Miller, etc). Something with a little more flavor to it. O’Fallon Smokey Porter and Schlafly Coffee Stout are my faves. Porters and Stouts in general lend themselves very well to BBQ sauce (and chili).

    Thanks for the props and check back often. We try to add content every week if not more…

    …….Scott

  • Barbie

    Thank you so much for this website! I loved the recipe for the pork steaks! The photos are awesome and made my mouth water! Especially the “sauscy” ones. I miss St. Louie and the great prk steaks.

  • Scott

    I know that BBQ sauce is a personal preference, and that some prefer tangy or sweet or spicy or even a touch sour.

    However, I found that the best base for ANY BBQ sauce is really very simple: Maull’s Original sauce and the juice from Bread and Butter pickles.

    I usually use this as a base for slow cooking ribs, but it works very well as a basting sauce also. It goes well with just about any marinade or rub you care to use.

    Our current favorite marinade is done by eye, and we use a vacuum container to force marinade.

    We use:
    1 small can V8 juice (spicy optional)
    1 15oz can salsa verde
    2 cloves of garlic, mashed and pan seared
    8oz Jim Bean, Wild Turkey, or Jack Daniel’s
    Moose Drool dark ale to top off the vacuum canisters

    This should be enough for 6 – 8 pork steaks.
    Perforate the pork steaks. Don’t try to cube them, just poke them with your favorite tenderizing needler.
    Put 3 or 4 steaks in each of two vacuum canisters and add equal parts of the marinade. Top off with Moose Drool.
    Seal the canisters, vacuum out the air (you will have to pump it more than twice because of the ale).
    Refrigerate for a minimum of 1 hour.
    When the grill or smoker is ready, drain the steaks and begin cooking.
    The BBQ sauce should be in a pan large enough to hold all the steaks at once, and it should go on the grill the same time as the steaks.
    After the first flip, begin basting with the sauce. Plan to flip at LEAST 4 times.
    When the steaks are done, put them in the sauce pan, cover and let them rest on the grill for 20 minutes.

    Remove, plate, serve, enjoy! I have to warn you, this recipe WILL come back at you after a few hours. But trust me, it’s worth it!

    Moose Drool can be found @ Schnuck’s. Any other dark, heavy ale will work though.

  • Jeff Lauber

    A good tip when grilling pork steaks that I have been using for years is to baste them in a mixture of half apple cider vinegar and half apple juice, the vinigar helps to tenderize the meat and the apple adds a slightly sweet taste to the meat. I ususlly use a coffee cup and everytime I turn the meat, approx. every 5-7 minutes I will baste them with this mixture. If you use a rub or marinade when cooking pork steaks, you will not want to use this method. Hope this helps and enjoy.

  • Pingback: FRIDAY SHOW BLOG (5/27/2011) «

  • walter

    i like your resp but what elas can marinde them in beside beer is beer a must or not ty walter

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      Walter,

      You can marinate them in just about anything. It doesn’t have to be beer…

      …….Scott

  • james

    the directions for the doctored BBQ sauce doesn’t say when to add the BBQ sauce it just says to add the beer and simmer on low for 30 min , when do i add the bottle of BBQ sauce ?

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      James,

      You can do that ahead of time and keep on a low simmer on the stove or side burner…

      …….Scott

  • Angela

    I was so thrilled to find this! I grew up in Southen Illinois and this was a summer staple for us. Having moved to Virginia about 7 years ago I’ve YET to find a single store or butcher who has any idea what one is – I can now explain and have them custom cut. Firing up the grill this weekend – Thank you!

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      Angela,

      You are very welcome. Thanks for checking out the website…

      …….Scott

  • Pingback: Pork Steak BBQ: 2012 Practice Session #1 « simpson bbq

  • J

    I saw some of these pork steaks at my local Ingles store in Georgia, and I had a vague idea of what they are but not exactly what I should do with them, so I bought them and looked it up online and now I think I will try cooking them using your recipe! I’ve never seen them in a store before, I guess they are becoming popular in the south? Just thought you’d like to know that they can be obtained around here!

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      J,

      Glad they are available in Georgia. I was in Atlanta last week and nobody had heard of them. Glad they are spreading though…

      …….Scott

  • http://YAHOO RICK WATERS

    I LIVE IN SHREVEPORT LA. I HAVE BEEN GRILLIN PORK STEAKS FOR YEARS I WORK FOR THE SHREVEPORT POLICE DEPT.IN THE GARAGE I AM THE SHOP FORMAN I MAKE AND SELL MY OWN SAUCE IT IS MADE WITH APPLE CIDER VIN.AND 15 SPICES I HAVE WON FIRST LAST 3 COOK OFFs FOR PORK STEAKS AND RIBS YES I AM A GRILLIN FOOL JUST BOUGHT A 3X4 GRILL ON TRAILER FROM TRACTOR SUPPLY LOVE IT I AM COOKING 40 PORK STEAKES THE 24th AND BAKED BEANS AFTER THIS A NAP IS NEEDED THANK YOU

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      Rick,

      Glad to know you are a Grillin Fool! And glad you’re spreading the word on the pork steak…

      ……..Scott

  • Pingback: A Primer on Pork Steaks « doodleoutloud

  • Frank

    Guys,

    Awesome site, my wife and I now live in GA and our local Publix grocery store is now carrying pork steaks.

    We are fixing some tomorrow, can’t wait.

    Frank

  • brian

    Awesome recipe! I finally cooked pork steak for the first time tonight. I used Maull’s BBQ sauce (figured that as long as I was cooking St. Louis food, I’d use St. Louis sauce) + doctoring ingredients from your recipe. I thought the Maull’s tasted too much like ketchup, so I added mustard and Franks Red Hot Sauce to the mix. Perfect! Thanks for helping me cook a great dinner!

  • Daniel

    We are planning on cooking 20 pork steaks for a party. I’m sure the rub and sauce recipes are for lesser quantities. How many batches of each should we make? Everything sounds delicious. Thanks for your help.

  • Johnny V.

    Thanks for the tips, I am a big fan of cooking pork steaks and love those big green eggs!! The sauce tip brings back memories cause I used to do the same thing darn near and will try again in the near future -MMMMMM.

    Hands down the best pork steaks are the one where only the bones are left to identify :)

  • Rebecca, a St. Louis Native

    I love this St. Louis tradition! When I first moved to Baltimore, I couldn’t find them anywhere and had to ask the grocery store meat dept. to cut them special. Now, I occasionally see them in the meat dept. at some stores. I order Mauls BBQ sauce from St. Louis, and do a combination of Mauls, Swwet Baby Rays, Teriyaki sauce, and honey for my sauce. Cooking them right now, in fact! Great Article!

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      Rebecca,

      I can’t believe they sell them out there. My dad’s cousin lives in Baltimore and last time we talked said she has never found them and like you, has to order them special…

      …….Scott

  • Darlene

    We are having a big family reunion and I would love to make some pork steaks! I would like to cook them the day before and then reheat them the day of the reunion. Any suggestions on how to do that?

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      Darlene,

      I would cook them like normal till just short of done, place them right away in big aluminum pans with high sides, cover the top with foil and place in the fridge immediately to stop the cooking process. The next day, add more sauce to the aluminum pan, place back on the grill and bring the sauce up to a simmer and serve. Let me know it comes out!

      ……..Scott

  • Sharon Wasileski

    I left St. Louis in 1995 and had worked at Charlotte’s Rib in & on Manchester Rd. (Charlotte Peters, Pat & Herb Schwartz) when I was 18, where pork steaks were on the menu and everything was the best BBQ, Herb was a master. Last week I found Golden Bear Farm in Kiel, Wisconsin carries 3/4″ pork steaks, finally!!! I was just getting ready to put them on the grill and looked here first. Thank you so much for reminding me how to prepare these. I appreciate your time and energy to share.
    Sharon Wasileski, BBQ fool in
    Village of Harrison, WI

    • http://www.GrillinFools.com Scott

      Sharon,

      Thank you for coming to our site. We so very much appreciate it!

      …….Scott

  • Keith

    I will be grilling about a 3lb pork steak bone on tomorrow that hase been marinating for about 24 hours now. 1/2 bottle of ML, 1 cup of sweet baby rays BBQ sauce, some garlic rid and a good.dry burger rub. Can’t wait til tomorrow

Meta