To some folks, pork butt is all about pulled pork but I am here to tell you that smoked pork steaks and smoked country style ribs are cut from pork butt and is to die for.
With plenty of fat to keep them moist, you can cook these cuts until they are fall apart tender and the flavor is unbeatable. Great on the grill or smoker but I prefer to smoke them real slow.
If you can't find pork steaks in your area, just buy a bone-in pork butt and ask your butcher to slice it for you at about ¾ to 1-inch thick. Country style ribs are simply extra thick pork steaks cut into 2 inch strips. Both are extremely flavorful and begging for you to give them a try.
Lay the country style ribs in a flat pan or cookie sheet. This makes it easy to clean up later.
Now.. normally, I use mustard or some other sticking agent to help the rub to stick to the meat. You don't have to use anything at all if you don't want to but I do recommend it.
This time, I decided to use honey to not only help the rub to stick but to add some sweetness to the pork. Everybody knows that pork and sweet just sort of go together.
If you let the pork sit on the cabinet for a few minutes, it works better. Warm the honey a little then drizzle it on and spread it with a basting brush.
Sprinkle on a good hearty layer of my rub and let it sit until it starts looking wet. Be sure to get all sides of the meat really good.
These big ol' hunks of meat can handle a lot of flavor and they have a lot of flavor of their own as well.
For the pork steaks, I wanted to try something a little different. My oldest daughter (18) was helping me with these and she thought it was a great idea as well.
Once again, start out by placing the pork steaks onto a pan to keep your work area clean and make it super easy to clean up.
About that “different” way of doing these..
I decided to use blackberry jelly (no seeds) as my base layer on these.
Let's just say, my oldest daughter had purple hands for a while after this but it was worth it ;-)
Add the rub on both sides, wait for the wet look and they are ready to go on the smoker grate lickety split.. just like that!
Note: these are also great if you rub them the night before. This gives the rub a chance to work it's way into the meat just a little. I am often in a hurry like a lot of folks and it's out of the fridge, rubbed and onto the smoker before you can say, “jack rabbit” but if you have the time and the forethought, a little extra time marinating in the rub is a wonderful thing.
Get the Smoker Ready
Set up your smoker for cooking/smoking at about 225°F. I like to keep the temperature low especially for the steaks to allow them plenty of time in the smoke. You can cook them a lot faster if you so desire, but slow and easy brings out the flavors better in my opinion.
Be sure to use indirect heat so as to not burn the rub or the sauce.
If you smoker has a water pan, use it.
I get a lot of questions about using water pans in smokers and cookers that don't come with a pre-installed water pan. In some of these other smokers, you can use a water pan if you want to but it is not required. Smokers that come with a water pan are designed from the ground up to use the water pan as a heat barrier and as a way to keep the temperature stable.
Don't get too caught up with equipment though, since you can technically cook on just about anything with a heat source as long as you can create a zone of indirect heat. For instance, you could cook these on a 3 burner grill by lighting the burner on the right and the left and placing the meat in the center or perhaps only running the burner on the left side and placing the meat on the right side of the grate.
Many folks use the Weber kettle in this manner by placing charcoal on both sides and placing the meat in the center of the grate. A water pan just below the meat completes the equation.
Nothing smokes meat as good as a real smoker but you can still create great food without a smoker if it is a necessity.
Smoke the Pork Steaks and Country Style Ribs
Place the meat directly on the grate for best results.
Close the lid/door and keep a good thin smoke going for at least 2 hours or the entire time if you want that real, wood smoker flavor.
Expect the steaks and the country style ribs to take 3-4 hours to reach 165-175°F. For great tenderness, I recommend taking them on up to about 175-180°F
How long it takes is directly related to how thick the meat is and that can vary greatly.
Just before the meat is done cooking, brush on some of my sauce. Flip the meat over and brush some on the other side as well.
Serve it Up
Check the temperature on the meat and when it reaches about 175-180, pile it up on a serving tray and call “Dinner!”
Can't find pork steaks? Buy a pork butt and ask the butcher to slice it up for you at ¾ to 1 inch thick.
If you are in a hurry, these can also be cooked hotter (275 °F or so) and they will be done and ready to eat in around 90 minutes.
Country style ribs are simply very thick pork steaks cut into strips
I have to warn you that I have found country style ribs cut from pork loin and who knows what else, in my opinion these are not “true” country style pork ribs but then the rules seem to be very grey. If you are not sure, see comment #1 above.
If you like a good sear on your steaks, smoke cook them in the smoker for about 3 hours or until they reach 165 then place them on a very hot grill for couple of minutes each side. Baste with a little sauce and serve. Incredible food!
The ones we find here in Tulsa are on the thin side and in spite of what you might hear, they do equally well on the smoker or the grill even at only ½ inch thick.
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Smoke, Wood, Fire: The Advanced Guide to Smoking Meat – Unlike the first book, this book does not focus on recipes but rather uses every square inch of every page teaching you how to smoke meat. What my first book touched on, this second book takes it into much greater detail with lots of pictures.
It also includes a complete, step-by-step tutorial for making your own smoked “streaky” bacon using a 100 year old brine recipe.