Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Pork Steaks

Pork steaks are wonderful cooked on any type of outside cooker or smoker and are very easy to prep and cook and will always make a nice base for any barbecued meal.

The steaks are usually cut out of a pork shoulder and preferable the butt section and the thickness can vary from about 1/4" to over 1-1/2" thick. The thickness of the cut may determine the best method of cooking the meat.

This treat originated around the St. Louis area and the meat is usually cut thin and after the addition of a rub or marinade of some type, just grilled and then glazed with Maull's sauce or sometimes grilled and then placed in a pan with the Maull's sauce which is usually cut with beer and then baked or simmered for some additional time. Other older methods for preparing this treat might be to sear over direct heat at a high temp and then finished at a lower temp. With this method, they would dip the steaks in sauce after they were done and put them back on the grill to caramelize the glaze at the end of the cook.

There are many other methods of cooking or smoking this meat including casserole dishes, crock pot cooking, Dutch oven cooking, and the list just goes on forever with both grilling and smoking, indirect of direct cooking, and the truth is, that it is about impossible to mess up a good pork steak.

In my area of the Mid-West, I can usually find these steaks on sale for no more than about $1.39 a pound and often at about a dollar a pound. They do freeze well so we always purchase extra when we find a sale.

I like to purchase the pork steaks that are cut around 1/2 to 3/4 inch thick and then just apply a good rub and cook or smoke them indirect at a good low and slow temp of around 250 degrees. I can always make some extra room on the cooker for this meat as it is a great barbecued meat.

This shows 10 pork steaks in my contraption for my Big Green Egg all rubbed up and ready for the fire.

After I got the cooker on temp, I just carried this out and dropped it into my ceramic cooker.

This picture shows two layers of pork steaks on the ceramic cooker. This was an indirect cook.

Of course, you can also do them direct over a hot lump charcoal fire and they will also come out well.

These are direct on my large Egg.

These are indirect on a raised grid in the ceramic cooker.

This picture shows some pork steaks on my pellet cooker. When cooking these by themselves, or with some chicken, they will cook as well at a raised temp of around 325-350 degrees which is also better for most chicken cooks.

Pork steaks, along with my crunchy hot buffalo wings, are two items that I can always find room for on my cookers on most of my cooks.

More pork steak on the pellet cooker with a mixed cook of other meats.

Another mixed cook with some pork steaks. It's just a great treat and super easy to cook.

These next few pictures will show the pork steaks done and ready for serving. The different look and color that you see in the pictures comes from my different methods of handling the sauce and finishing the steaks on the cooker.

To finish these steaks, I will sometimes just apply some sauce near the end of the cook, or I might start adding some layers of sauce during the last half of the cook, or I might make up a good glaze with some honey and caramelize it on the steaks before I pull them off the cooker. In my opinion, about all finishing methods are very good on the pork steaks.

Finishing the steaks without any sauce is also good and I often use this method when testing a few rubs against each other for their taste on a meat after it is cooked. It's a great way to compare products.

I couldn't finish an article on one of my favorite treats without including some information from an expert and my friend, Juggy D. Beerman who is from Missouri, and is known for his recipe and method for producing the best pork steak in the Mid-West. This is what Juggy would tell ya...

For the Marinade:

2 cups Wishbone Spicy French Dressing
1 cup lemon juice
2 cups apple juice
1 (12 oz) can of cherry cola
1 cup Woeber's Spicy mustard
1/4 cup habenero hot sauce
1/4 cup of rub

You can reserve some of the marinade for a baste if you so desire. I don't baste the steaks for the first hour or two of the cooking time.

Due to the acidic content of the marinade, I would not marinate the pork steaks more than eight hours or the meat will turn to mush. Because of the sugar in the marinade, I do not cook the meat directly over the coals or above 250ºF. I usually use the kettle for this but the WSM works too. I like to use cherry wood for the smoke flavor.

Depending on the thickness of the steaks, they take anywhere from two to four hours to cook. You won't be able to render all the fat out between the muscle areas like you do a pork shoulder, but quite a bit of the fat will cook out. I consider the steaks done once you can easily separate the muscle areas. Once you can pull two areas of the meat apart, apply the finish sauce of your choice and give the sauce a little time to thicken on meat.

Give them a try as I am sure you will enjoy.

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