and GrillinFoolsAuthor

Pork Steaks - 160 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 there­of. 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***

This is what the whole butt looks like pri­or get­ting the band saw treat­ment:

Mateker Meat and Catering - 080

And 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. Check out the review of Matek­er Meats and Cater­ing.

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

As we get to the meat of the mat­ter, the pic­tures are going to get a lit­tle big­ger. See what I did there?

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 its 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:

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

Pork Steaks - 083

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

If you need a new sauce brush, don’t go with the wood­en han­dled one in the pic above. We have since moved on to a bet­ter bast­ing brush.

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 over 180 degrees inter­nal tem­per­a­ture and ready to eat:

Pork Steaks - 160

180 degrees sounds too hot, but the­se pork steaks are full of col­la­gen and fat and in order to get that stuff to melt away and have a ten­der, glo­ri­ous bite, you have to take them up to 180.

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.

5.0 from 4 reviews
A Mid­west­ern BBQ Sta­ple — Pork Steaks
Author: 
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: BBQ
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
 
An expla­na­tion of what exact­ly a pork steak is as well as how to per­fect­ly pre­pare them on the grill, slather­ing them with a gooey BBQ sauce.
Ingre­di­ents
  • 6 pork steaks, each an inch thick (do not go with any­thing thin­ner than an inch)
  • Coarse salt
  • BBQ rub
  • BBQ sauce
Instruc­tions
  1. Sea­son the pork steaks with the salt and BBQ rub
  2. Pre­pare the grill for two zone or indi­rect grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and noth­ing on the meat on the oth­er
  3. Tar­get tem­per­a­ture is 300 degrees
  4. Place the sea­soned pork steaks on the side of the grill with no heat, toss on a chunk of smoke wood or wood chips and close the lid
  5. After six­ty min­utes (or the pork steaks reach 150 degrees inter­nal­ly — whichev­er comes first), stoke up the hot side and give the pork steaks a quick sear on each side
  6. Place the pork steaks back on the side with no heat and slather both sides with BBQ sauce and close the lid for 15 min­utes
  7. Slather with more sauce and close the lid for anoth­er 15 min­utes
  8. Option­al: repeat the slather­ing and lid clos­ing one more time
  9. Oth­er­wise, remove from the grill, allow to rest for a cou­ple min­utes and serve
Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas

Scott Thomas, the Orig­i­nal Grillin’ Fool, was sent off to col­lege with a suit­case and a grill where he over­cooked, under­cooked and burned every piece of meat he could find. After thou­sands of fail­ures, and quite a few suc­cess­es, near­ly two decades lat­er he start­ed a web­site to show step by step, pic­ture by pic­ture, fool­proof instruc­tions on how to make great things out of doors so that oth­ers don’t have to repeat the mis­takes he’s made on the grill.
Scott Thomas

@GrillinFool

https://t.co/lVWgniik3V#Grill­Porn abounds here. All meat, all the time!
Spinal­is Dor­si any­one? Spinal­is what? It’s the cap mus­cle of the rib eye and the tasti­est part of the cow. I must …… https://t.co/b5Pr2Zw6M6 — 8 mins ago
Scott Thomas

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48 comments

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

Reply

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

Reply

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

Reply

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.

Reply

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. 

Reply

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.

Reply

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

Reply

Wal­ter,

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

.……Scott

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 ?

Reply

James,

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

.……Scott

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!

Reply

Ange­la,

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

.……Scott

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!

Reply

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

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

Reply

Rick,

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

.….…Scott

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

Reply

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!

Reply

Don’t use Maull’s just because it is a “St. Louis sauce”. Use it because the first, and there­fore most promi­nent ingre­di­ent, is this thing known as “toma­to puree”. Check EVERY oth­er bot­tle of sauce at your gro­cery store and the first ingre­di­ent will be high fruc­tose corn syrup. I cut 1/2 with beer and that’s it…

Tim,

I accept that chal­lenge. I see your Maul’s and raise you the revamped Kraft BBQ Sauce. It not only has no HFCS, but it uses real toma­toes, cane sug­ar and cider vine­gar. Maul’s is my child­hood in a bot­tle, but they are not the only sauce that doesn’t use HFCS. With the back­lash again­st HFCS, I would assume there are more two but that’s the only one I can think of off the top of my head…

.……Scott

Rufus Teague has no HFCS. It’s one of my cur­rent favorites. Glad we can get it in Iowa now. 

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.

Reply

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 :)

Reply

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!

Reply

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

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?

Reply

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

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

Reply

Sharon,

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

.……Scott

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

Reply

Just tried this recipe, ten­der and juicy pork steaks. Low and slow indi­rect at 300, then sear and sauce last, yeilds excel­lent bbq. High­ly recommend-can’t believe there aren’t more com­ments.

Reply

Joe, I just saw this com­ment. Sor­ry I didn’t see it ear­lier. Glad you enjoyed the recipe. And there used to be a bunch of com­ments but when we moved to a dif­fer­ent com­ment plug in they were lost.

I don’t have a char­coal grill and am won­der­ing if I could get sim­i­lar results using a gas grill (omit­ing the smok­ing wood) and just turn­ing on one set of burn­ers on the end away from the meat?

Reply

Rachel, that’s exact­ly how you do it. Here’s a post about how to smoke on a gas grill which would allow you to incor­po­rate the smoke wood too if you want. 

http://​grillinfools​.com/​b​l​o​g​/​2​0​1​3​/​0​5​/​1​8​/​h​o​w​-​t​o​-​s​m​o​k​e​-​o​n​-​a​-​g​a​s​-​g​r​i​ll/

Make sure to get thick pork steaks as it’s usu­al­ly dif­fi­cult to get a gas grill down to 300, but it is pos­si­ble. Let me know how they turn out!

From a native St. Louisan, those are seri­ous­ly legit. Nice method

Reply

There is anoth­er way to pre­pare and cook pork steaks. Try this for a fall off the bone method. get your grill good and hot. Brown your pork steaks on both sides and remove. Use a large glass bak­ing pan and put some Mauls BBQ in it. Put your pork steaks in and pour more sauce over the steaks (if more than one lay­er pour sauce between each lay­er). Cov­er with alu­minum foil and bake in a 350° oven for about 2 hours. The meat will be so ten­der you will hard­ly be able to pick it up with­out it falling apart. My Dad did it this way and it’s the only way I cook them now. 

Reply

nice thing to read„ just to share my expe­ri­ence an hour soak in a salt and sug­ar solu­tion reshapes the pro­teins in the meat in such a way that they retain mois­ture bet­ter when cook­ing. The end result will be a juicier, and more fla­vor­ful chop, so it’s a step you don’t want to skip

Reply

Shey,

That’s called brin­ing. And I brine quite a lot and tru­ly believe in it for chops. But the­se are not chops. They are pork steaks that have a ton of fat in them and don’t need a brine…

.……Scott

Let me pref­ace this by say­ing that I am not a huge pork steak fan. I gave this a try last night with three 1 inch thick pork steaks. They turned out amaz­ing!!! I used some hick­o­ry chunks and cher­ry chips. Thank you Scott for this recipe. The steaks had a def­i­nite smoke ring and the taste was awe­some. Will be doing this again in the future. My fam­i­ly and I Thank you again!!!! 

Reply

Bill, glad to be able to con­vert you over to pork steak fan!

.……Scott

Got a ques­tion for you Scott.…..did that char­coal grate in the pics come with your grill or was that some­thing that you pur­chased after as a mod?

Reply

Bill,

They come stan­dard on a Char-Broil 940X…

.……Scott

I am in love am such a Food­ie so this the best thing

Reply

Thank you for great recipe,I just bought grill so I hope I’ll han­dle it.

Reply

Tried this recipe last night, and it was fan­tas­tic. All the kids loved it too! 

Reply

Todd,

Glad that it came out so well! Have a fan­tas­tic (and safe) hol­i­day week­end!

.……Scott

Looks great! Just dis­cov­ered your site and I will be fol­low­ing it a bit more close­ly. From a South African Braai lover!!

Reply

Glad to have you aboard!

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