Go into just about anybody’s backyard in St. Louis, MO and you will find a grill full of sauced pork steaks. These slabs of pork sliced from the shoulder are delicious and tender when cooked to perfection.
My version of the St. Louis style pork steak is a competition method I will share on this site for everyone to see. This technique has won me many awards at various contests, culminating in a 1st place finish at the Route 66 Challenge in 2011 and 2nd place at the KCBS Kick Off-Cook Off this year.
The competition process calls for a thick steak, it’s necessary to achieve a “fork tender” piece of meat. In other words, the meat is so tender, you can cut it with a fork. A thick steak is able to cook in lower temps for a longer period of time to break down a tough muscle like a pork butt.
On the other hand, a thin pork steak (less than 1″ inch thickness) can dry out during the cooking process. To get around dried thin pork steaks, simply braise the pork steaks in a foil pan full of barbecue sauce for a few hours on the grill. This is the most common approach to cook St. Louis style pork steaks. However, this method doesn’t maximize its’ full flavor potential. By adding 2 more layers of flavor, dry rub and smoke, we can go from a good pork steak to great!
To my friends outside the St. Louis market, you might be saying…”what the hell is a pork steak?” Buy a pork butt and ask your butcher to cut them into steaks, then follow the magic below.
BBQ Pork Steaks ingredients:
- 2 Pork steaks (1″ to 1.5″ thick)
- BBQ dry rub (your favorite)
- BBQ sauce (your favorite)
- Squeezable margarine
- Light brown sugar
- Aluminum Foil
- Smoke wood
- Set up smoker or use indirect 2-zone method at 300 degrees F.
- Apply dry rub on pork steaks.
- Add smoke wood, place pork steaks on grill.
- Smoke for 1.5 hours.
- In a sheet of foil, add margarine and sugar with 1 pork steak and wrap tight.
- Cook foil wrap for 1 hour.
- Unwrap, cook for 30 min.
- Brush on BBQ sauce and serve.
Few things to mention here, first, all the times are subjective. Depending on the thickness and overall size of the pork steak, it can cook faster or slower than mentioned above. Keep an eye on the steaks, check every 30 minutes or so.
Second, once the pork is wrapped, stop adding wood. No further smoking is needed, the foil will block smoke penetration.
Third, after cooking in the wrap, make sure the pork is tender. The meat should just about shake off the bone. If it’s firm and doesn’t separate from the bone, continue to cook until tender. I found that opening the foil wrap and letting the pork steak braise in the juice the last 30 minutes keeps it moist.
The result is a tender pork steak with unbelievable flavors. While this is a more complicated way to prepare pork steaks, it’s a delicacy that deserves it. Not to mention the awards I received using this recipe, can’t argue with results.
If anyone wants to use this technique at a pork steak contest…go for it. I would like to see how it works out for other folks, contact me or stop by my site at a comp and let me know.