Fork Tender BBQ Pork Steaks

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.

A couple of pork steaks

Seasoned and on the grill

Smoked for 1.5 hours

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!

The foil wrap

Pork steak topped w/ margarine & brown sugar

Wrapped tight and cooked for an hour

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

Instructions:

  1. Set up smoker or use indirect 2-zone method at 300 degrees F.
  2. Apply dry rub on pork steaks.
  3. Add smoke wood, place pork steaks on grill.
  4. Smoke for 1.5 hours.
  5. In a sheet of foil, add margarine and sugar with 1 pork steak and wrap tight.
  6. Cook foil wrap for 1 hour.
  7. Unwrap, cook for 30 min.
  8. 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.

Unwrapped

Sauce added

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.

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8 thoughts on “Fork Tender BBQ Pork Steaks

  1. I used your method for dinner Wednesday, the flavor was the best I ever had. My youngest daughter who never liked pork steaks loved it.

  2. I am trying it tonight and cannot wait. I have always bbqd them low and slow, but never integrated the foil wrapped step. Eager to see how it turns out! Thanks!

  3. Used this recipe for the second time last night. I had some monster 1 1/4″ steaks. 1 1/2 hours on the smoker and 2 hours wrapped in a 300 degree oven. I didn’t even sauce them. They were fall off the bone delicious. My family and guests loved them! This is now my go to pork steak recipe. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I want to try this for a guy’s golf weekend, but would need to smoke a few days prior and then finish the night they will be served. What would be the best stopping point in this recipe do you think? Prior to the foil wrap or after and then just reheat and sauce? Thanks.

    • Hey Grant. I would cook all the way through and refrigerate until you reheat. When I have leftovers, my BBQ taste just as good or better when reheated in the oven or microwave. I don’t worry about internal temps, just heat up until warm again. To me, it would be a waste of time to cook halfway and then finish a few days later…I hate wasting fuel and time.

      With that said, I must put a disclaimer on this method because I’m not a trained chef, nor do I cater to anyone. So I know nothing about food storage and food safety. Check with a professional if you’re concerned about food safety.

      Thanks!

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