Reverse Seared Pork Steaks
This will be my new method of grilling pork steaks from now on simply because of that smoke ring above, something I’ve never tried for when grilling pork steaks in the past, but now it seems so simple. I can’t believe I didn’t try this before.
First, what is a pork steak? I’ll hand that over to my dad to explain (you can find this explanation in our first pork steak post with a different cooking method.)
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 a pork steak 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:
A pork steak is also known as a blade steak and simply put, a pork steak is merely a sliced Boston pork butt.
***Editor’s Note ~ Why is it called a butt or even Boston butt when it actually comes from the shoulder? Because back in the days of wooden sailing ships, the sailors were often fed salted pork from giant barrels that were called butts. The pork was usually from the shoulder and thus the cut took the name from the barrels they were loaded in. And since Boston was one of the chief ports in the country, they were referred to as Boston butts since that’s where most of those barrels were destined***
I visited a local grocery store where the head meat-cutter, Mike, agreed to assist in illustrating how pork steaks are cut:
This is what the whole butt looks like prior to Mike performing his craft:
Mike trims the end and any excess fat to fit the steaks to the tray used to sell:
The Boston butt is sliced into steaks (usually ½” to 1 1/4” thickness) on the saw:
Mike does not slice the whole butt into pork steaks. He saves a portion of one end to sell as a small roast (the back of the pic below) and sells the small end pieces as finger ribs which Mike thinks are the tastiest part, (the front of the pic below). What’s in the middle of the two are known as center cut pork steaks:
Some grocers slice the entire shoulder and that’s referred to as whole shoulder or butt sliced into pork steaks and usually offered at a lower retail price since the end pieces are included.
Finally we have a view of what the end product looks like before wrapping, pricing, and offering for sale in the display case – small roast on the upper left, finger ribs on the upper right and center cut pork steaks down the middle:
Our thanks to Mike who is a very accomplished griller in his own right (and a pretty good Texas Hold ‘Em player) for helping out with the explanation of what exactly is a pork steak.
Hopefully you’ll be able to take this information to your local butcher (careful here, they usually prefer to be called meat-cutters) and so you can get to grilling pork steaks in your area, no matter where that is.
Now for the write up by Scott
So, I lost the chip that had the pics of the first time I made a reverse seared pork steak. In order to show you how this is done, I had to bite the bullet and make it all over again. The things I subject myself to in order to help my fellow Grillin’ Fools make great BBQ!!!
I started with two fairly thick pork steaks. I don’t recommend trying this method with thin pork steaks as they can dry out too quickly. These were about 1.5 inches thick.
Here are the bad boys ready for the grill:
All I did was add coarse salt, black pepper and white pepper. I forgot the rub in this second round so remember to dust with whatever rub you prefer here as it will make a great flavor crust later.
Then put them on the grill for an indirect smoke – coals and hickory on the right, pork steaks on the left. I went with the more robust hickory over my usual favorites of pear, peach or apple as I will be saucing the pork steaks and going with a milder fruit wood would get overpowered by the sauce. Click here for a lengthy list of different things you can use to smoke and what they pair the best with.
Most people put pork steaks right over the coals, sear them and put them off to the side to smoke. The problem with that is that the once the outside of the meat reaches a certain temp it no longer takes on any smoke. That’s why I am going with the reverse seared method from now on. I want that smoke flavor in the meat before I give it a sear and add a nice flavor crust. So, put the meat off to the side and let it stay there between 200-225. As you can see here, the temp is a little high, but once I lock down the vents the temp will get down to where I want it to be:
After just one hour look at how they are turning a nice golden color:
I realize that in this next pic you are seeing the pork steaks on a different grill. I needed the grill space on the larger grill for some ribs so I transferred these guys to my grill manufacturer that shall not be named. Here they are after 2 hours cooking indirect between 200-225:
And here they are after 2.5 hours. Look at how golden brown they are from all the smoke they have taken on:
Now it’s time for the second part of the reverse sear method. I added a few more coals to the small pile of coals in order to have enough heat to put on a nice flavor crust. Put the pork steaks right over the hot coals for a couple minutes on each side to give it a nice char:
After you sear each side of the pork steaks, pull them off the heat so they don’t burn or dry out and slather with your favorite BBQ sauce.
Here are the reverse seared pork steaks pulled to the side of the grill with no heat and slathered on each side with BBQ sauce:
I slathered them a couple more times over the next 30 minutes and allowed the BBQ sauce to thicken up and caramelize before I pulled them from the grill and plated one of them:
Let’s see if I recreated the magic of the first time I tried this method:
Smoke ring? Check.
Multiple levels of flavor from the seared flavor crust, the penetrated smoke flavor and the barbecue sauce? Check.
As a coworker said who tried the first batch said, “The flavors just keep going and going.”
Reverse seared is now my go to method for making pork steaks, and many other cuts. Try it and I bet it becomes yours too.
If you have any questions or comments about reverse seared pork steaks feel free to shoot me an email or simply leave a comment below.
If you like this BBQ recipe, click here for other pork done on the grill.
Also, you can follow the Grillin Fools on Facebook and post your own grilling pictures, share grilling recipes, or join the general grilling conversation. You can keep up with us on Twitter@GrillinFool (no S).
- Two pork steaks at least 1.5 inches thick
- Salt and black pepper
- Your favorite rub
- Your favorite BBQ sauce
- Coat each side of the pork steaks with salt, black pepper and the rub
- Prepare the grill for two zone grilling with charcoal and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
- Target internal temperature of the grill is 225
- Place the pork steaks on the side of the grill with no coals and close the lid
- Smoke the pork steaks until they reach and internal temperature of 160 degrees (about 2-2.5 hours depending on the heat of the grill)
- If the fire is not hot enough at this time to sear, add more charcoal and leave the lid open until it heats up
- Move each pork steak over to the side with the coals and give them a good sear
- Move over to the side with no heat and slather with your favorite sauce
- Close the lid to allow the sauce to thicken and absorb some smoke
- Hit the steaks with a couple more layers of BBQ sauce over the next thirty minutes
- Remove from the grill, allow them to rest for approximately three minutes and serve