Grilled Pork Steaks – Take a Break from Beef (and Barbecue)

by R.B. Quinn
grilled pork steaks

An August 2018 New York Times story on grilled pork steaks caught our attention so we had to get busy. I’ve grilled plenty of chewy pork “country style” ribs, the long rectangular cuts with occasional flecks of shoulder bone. And they’re very good. Sort of the opposite of slow smoked or braised pork that has to fall apart into soft shreds before it’s done.

For pork steaks, start with a 5 -7 or so pound Boston butt pork shoulder, which will have about a half dozen one-inch steaks in there. They’re not hard to cut into steaks with a good knife, especially if the meat is very cold and firm. But if the meat counter will slice for you, have them. They may tell you that the shoulder must be frozen in order to run it through the saw, so ask. If you are cutting them yourself at home, buy a the boneless shoulder which spares you the job of first removing the bone. Unless you want that bone for a pot of beans, that is.

Cook these like any steak or chop. If it’s new to you, I realize that might sound odd. But, so long as the steaks reach an internal temperature of 145F, which is medium rare territory and the USDA recommended minimal temperature for pork steaks, chops and roasts (not ground pork patties, meatloaf, or organ meats, which is 160F minimum), they are ready. A pinkish interior is perfectly fine. Rely on your instant ready meat thermometers and check them once a season by setting them in a mug of hot water (or replacing the tiny battery if digital).

A few notes about grilling pork steaks:

  • you can marinate if you want and have the time; I only rub with oil and season with Kosher salt, coarse ground black pepper, and paprika and I never miss the citrus pre-soak, etc. Marinades make for wet meat surfaces and prevent a decent crust from developing, which is among the main reasons I’m doing this in the first place
  • follow your usual grilled steak procedures – start with a well oiled grill grate and don’t try to move the steaks for a few minutes so you don’t tear the meat when it sticks to the grate early on in cooking
  • do not leave your post! Follow the game on your phone, don’t let Cousin Lex distract you with his damn stories, whatever, but stay next to the grill. These steaks have plenty of fat which can flare up and really cause a scene. Have a cooler side of the grill open in case of flare ups, or use the handy upper shelf on your gas grill to hold the steaks while the fire subsides
  • insert the thermometer in the dead middle of a couple steaks to test for doneness. Let them rest 10 minutes before slicing to keep the juices intact

grilled pork steaks

For tips on those fantastic cornbread waffles of Mindy’s read THIS.

Don’t tell me they weren’t the first thing your eyes locked onto when you scrolled down here.

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