St. Louis Good Eats: BBQ Pork Steaks

Summer's almost over, but it certainly ain't over yet and I have another grilling recipe to prove it. Keeping with tradition here at BaCon, this recipe produces pretty impressive results with relatively little work. (leaving plenty of time for beer drinking and impromptu dance parties, of course. I have my priorities in line.)

My love for the grill actually started one Summer afternoon in South St. Louis, Missouri. I was a recent college grad, and I found myself with some free time, absolutely no cooking skills, (Mama BaCon will tell you that at this point in my life I could "burn water"), and a tiny table-top charcoal camping grill. On this particular day, I skipped the frozen section at the grocery store and instead headed to the more daunting butcher department for some pork steaks. I was craving some St. Louis Summer food, and though I didn't quite pull it off on that day (don't ask), I became mildly obsessed with the smoky, familiar smell of meat on a hot grill, and the pursuit of the perfect grilling recipe.

Now for the facts. If you've never had a BBQ pork steak, well--I'm truly sorry. Pork steaks are also known as blade steak or pork shoulder steak because they come from cutting a Boston Butt, or shoulder roast, into 1 inch steaks. They're typically rimmed with fat and almost like beef brisket in texture--super dense and flavorful--so they're perfect for BBQing. Although they're truly a staple of St. Louis Summers, you can find pork steaks in D.C.. Mama and Papa BaCon drove mine down from St. Louis when I was in NOLA (yes, am spoiled) but you can have the butcher at your grocery store cut some for you if you find yourself without a cross-country delivery service.

Besides fire and smoke, the key component to any good St. Louis style pork steak is either a tasty caramelized crust or a slow simmer thanks to a sweet, spicy tomato based BBQ sauce. I start with Sweet Baby Ray's and doctor it, but feel free to use your favorite from the store or your spice cabinet, so long as it's tangy and tomato based.

St. Louis Style BBQ Pork Steaks:

4 pork steaks, untrimmed and seasoned with salt and pepper
3 cups of your favorite BBQ sauce
3 large cloves of garlic
1 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper
1 Tbs. dried oregano
1 Tbs. brown sugar
3-4 beers (and more for drinking)

Prepare your charcoal grill or turn your gas grill on medium direct heat. If using charcoal, spread the hot coals in an even thin layer over the bottom of the grill. Grill the seasoned pork steaks over medium direct heat for 7-10 minutes, or till the meat has browned and some of the fat has rendered and turn and cook the other side for another 5-10 minutes. In an older, clean metal baking pan or an aluminum pan with high sides, add the BBQ sauce, garlic, cayenne, brown sugar, and oregano with one beer.

Place the pork steaks in the pan, and add more beer until the pork steaks are 1/2 covered. Tightly cover the pan with foil, and place on the grill. Cover, and simmer for 2-3 hours. Occasionally listen to the pan, and if it's stopped bubbling, add 1 more beer and re-cover to continue cooking.

When the pork steaks are mostly falling off the bone, carefully remove them from the pan and serve.

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