If you are looking for the perfect thing to cook in the smoker for this Labor Day, look no further than smoked pork steaks. Dry brined, seasoned with my original rub (purchase recipes here) and then smoked for about 2.5 hours. Glazing with my barbecue sauce (purchase recipes here) is optional but highly recommended.
Have a great Labor Day!
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- Prep Time: 5 minutes
- Dry Brining Time: 3 hours
- Cook Time: 2.5 hours
- Smoker Temp: 225-240°F
- Meat Finish Temp: 180°F
- Recommended Wood: Pecan
- Pork steaks (1 per person)*
- Kosher salt (Morton)
- Jeff's Original Rub (purchase recipes here)
- Jeff's Barbecue Sauce (purchase recipes here)
*If your butcher is not familiar with these, ask them to slice a pork butt (Boston butt) into ½-¾ inch slices and you'll have pork steaks.
Place the pork streaks on a sheet pan or something similar.
Sprinkle with kosher salt on the top side only. See picture below for coverage recommendation:
Place the meat in the fridge uncovered for about 3 hours.
The salt will draw some of the meat juices to the surface. The juices will mix with the salt and create a slurry which will then be drawn back deep into the meat.
This process tenderizes the meat and adds great flavor to the inside of the meat.
Some say you do not need to rinse the meat after dry brining but I prefer to do so just to make sure there is no residual salt left on the surface.
Lay the steaks back onto the sheet pan.
Sprinkle generously with Jeff's original rub (purchase recipes here). I do not recommend using store-bought rubs or most other seasonings unless they are low in salt.
Let the pork steaks sit for about 10 minutes until they start getting that familiar “wet” look.
Flip them over and do the other side the same way.
Now leave them be while you go get the smoker ready.
Set up your smoker for cooking at about 225°F with indirect heat.
If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
Once the smoker is preheated and ready to go, place the pork steaks directly on the smoker grates or you can use a Bradley rack or Weber grill pan to make it easy.
Use pecan or your favorite smoking wood for smoke.
If you are using a charcoal, electric or gas smoker, keep the smoke going for at least an hour. Longer is fine as long as the smoke is light.
You can use a digital probe meat thermometer such as the Maverick ET-733 to monitor the pork steaks so you'll know when they reach their perfect done temperature. I recommend taking them to about 180°F.
Another great tool is the recently improved ThermoPop digital pocket thermometer which reads in 3-4 seconds (that's fast), is splash-proof and is being offered now for only $29. One of my favorite toys.. er, tools;-)
Let the sauce caramelize for 15 minutes then flip them over and sauce the other side as well.
You can expect these to take around 2.5 hours depending on a few variables:
- Meat thickness
- How cold they are when you place them on the grate
- Weather, wind, rain, etc.
- Accuracy of your smoker thermometer
When the pork steaks reach 180°F they are finished.
Remove them from the heat.
Place a piece of foil loosely over the top of them and let them rest for about 10 minutes before serving.
Can I cook these faster and get them done sooner?
If you want to cut the cooking time down on these you can cook them at 275°F. At this temperature, it will take them approximately 1.5 hours.
Why do you cook some pork to 145°F but you recommend 180°F on these? Won't that dry them out?
Great question! Some lean cuts of pork like loin and chops are tender and juicy at 145°F but not so on large fatty cuts like pork butt as these have lots of connective tissues that do best with long, slow heat.
These cuts do not get tender until they are cooked well past their safe temperature. Fortunately, because these have so much fat marbling, they can be cooked to 180°F and still end up juicy.
I've heard that some folks grill these but you don't mention that. Why?
They can definitely be grilled at high temperatures although that is not best for them in my opinion. If you get them done quickly, you are limiting the time with the smoke and ultimately the flavor.
It is also my opinion that the connective tissues break down better at the lower temperatures.
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- Lay the pork steaks on a cookie sheet or pan.
- Sprinkle about 1 tsp of Mortons kosher salt on the top side of the pork steaks.
- Place the steaks in the fridge uncovered for 3 hours.
- Rinse the steaks under cold water to remove any residual salt.
- Season both sides of the meat with Jeff's original rub.
- Set up the smoker for cooking at about 225°F with indirect heat.
- Use the water pan if you have one.
- Cook the steaks on the smoker for about 2.5 hours or until they reach 180°F in the center.
- About 30 minutes before they are finished, you can sauce them if you like.
- Brush sauce onto top side, wait about 15 minutes then flip over and do the other side.
- Rest under loose foil for about 10 minutes before serving.