In pursuit of the noble aim of perfecting the pork steak, I assembled my crew and got to grilling.
For the second practice session, I am abandoning the Weber 22″ and moving on to my homemade smoker, Big Blue.
Prior to putting the pork steaks on the grill, I cleaned the grill grate with a heavy lubrication of vegetable oil on a half onion. While a 3/4 full coal chimney did it’s job, I got my full bag of water-soaked hickory wood chunks (as opposed to chips). Once assembled, with the coals in the basket, wood on the coals, and grill grate in place, it looked like this:
On to the meat. This practice session will include two different recipes, though they are not too dissimilar to things I have made in the past.
First, 4 of the pork steaks were coated liberally in a brown sugar-based rub that included paprika, dry Italian herbs, onion powder, and Lawry’s seasoned salt. This rub was put only on one side of the meat, and, when the food goes on the grill, that side will be up.
Second, the remaining 4 pork steaks were coated in a mustard-based paste, similar to but thinner than my brisket paste, and with far less paprika and no cayenne pepper. Then they were entombed in aluminum foil for over an hour to absorb the flavors.
Everybody on the grill:
I tried several times to get a better picture than the one above, but the smoke was completely enveloping the steaks. I left them alone for 45 minutes, while the smoker was a shade above 200 degrees.
How wonderful these look after 45 minutes! Earlier in the post, I mentioned that the grill grate was well-lubricated with vegetable oil. What effect did that have on the pork steaks, besides providing an effective non-stick coating? Flipping the meat will give the answer:
The answer is beautiful grill lines! Presentation is one of the scoring categories in the BBQ pork steak competition, so getting them to look good is an important element of the practice.
About 30-45 minutes later, the smoker is at 250 degrees and the pork steaks are done. Each is cut in half for serving.
Personally, I found the mustard-pasted pork steaks to be juicier, and they had a much milder yet smoky flavor, as compared to the rub-covered pork steaks. Each picked up tremendous smoke flavor, while retaining the distinct seasonings applied pre-BBQ.
Perhaps it was the technique, but these were the juiciest pork steaks I have ever made. They were not the most tender (though they were quite tender), but they were wonderful. In fact, all in attendance made it a point to tell me that these were the best pork steaks that I have ever made, which is something to say since I have been BBQing with an eye to the craft for several years.
This brings up two challenges: (1) pick one and run with it, and (2) consistently replicate this.