Although the annual World Pork Steak Championships are no longer being held at the Schlafly Bottleworks, the St. Louis BBQ Society picked up the ball and continued the tradition. Good work, fellas. That means that I am still going to be presenting my best attempt at championship pork steaks on Memorial Day Saturday this year.
In addition to the pork steak and appetizer paired with a craft beer (to be handled by my BBQ teammate), we must also now come up with an entree paired with a craft beer. I have some ideas…
Back to the task at hand. After a long day of hard gardening, I was ready to get some meat on the grill.
I set up my Weber 22″ for indirect cooking with a heapin’ helpin’ of water-soaked cherry wood chips.
I picked up five center cut 1″ pork steaks from Schnucks. For those of you not from St. Louis, a pork steak is a pork shoulder (a/k/a Boston Butt) cut into 1″ steaks, each steak having a Y-shaped bone in the center.
It can be a tough piece of meat, and many people will drown it in abhorrent BBQ sauce or overcook it. My aim is to excell in three areas: taste, appearance, tenderness.
I decided to try two techniques tonight. Two of the steaks will get a brisket-esque paste and the other three will get a dry rub. All will be smoked on the grill, and then the two sets will tenderize in an apple juice-filled foil boat. I’ve never done this before with pork steaks, so who knows how it will turn out.
To make the paste, I used about 6 oz. brown mustard, 1/3 cup brown sugar, some paprika, onion salt, Lawry’s seasoned salt, and maybe some other dry stuff. Each side was coated liberally.
The other pork steaks got a dry rub, which consisted of 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1/4 cup paprika, onion powder, garlic salt, Italian seasoning, cinnamon, Lawry’s seasoned salt, cayenne pepper, etc. Each side of each pork steak was generously coated.
All five pork steaks were smoked on each side for about 10-12 minutes.
At the conclusion of the cherry wood smoke, each set of pork steaks went into a foil boat with a little bit of apple juice to prepare for a tenderizing steam over semi-direct heat.
Now would be a good time for a beer. May I suggest one of my favorite yardwork beers – Boddington’s Pub Ale.
After about 5-6 minutes of steaming, the foil boats got a 180 degree turn.
Finally, I pulled all the meat. The pork steaks, when the competition rolls around, will need to be cut into two servings. That means a half that is loaded with fat and meat, and a half with the Y bone surrounded by meat and some outer ribbons of fat. Each half has distinct qualities.
In my opinion, the pork steaks with the paste had more flavor, whereas my wife preferred the dry rub. Regardless, the kids destroyed them.
I felt like the steaming diluted the flavors from the rub/paste. You could definitely pick up on the smoke, but the flavors were not as strong. Perhaps on Practice Session #2 I can pull the pork steaks from the steam and follow up with a little seasoning and grilling to finish. Maybe the short time in the foil did not permit a true tenderization, and the juice/steam took off the flavorings that I had applied pre-smoke. The technique will need improving.
All in all, it was a great meal. Even the terminally-ill dog enjoyed the fat, trimmings, leftovers.
I still need to come up with a BBQed entree to pair with a craft beer for this competition, in addition to perfecting the pork steaks. The BBQ appetizer… that’s for my partner to figure out.
For the past few years, we have been Team Shock & Awesome. I thought it was pretty funny, while somewhat distinctive. It was suggested that we change to Team Mesquite-squite-squite and use Lil’ Jon as a mascot. Is this too much?