Place the pork steaks on a sheet pan or something similar.
Sprinkle with kosher salt on the top side only. See picture below for coverage recommendation however, most chefs recommend ½ teaspoon of kosher salt per pound of meat when dry brining.
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.
Over the years I have found that you really do not need to rinse the meat after dry brining but of course, you can if you like.
Lay the steaks onto a cookie sheet or other flat surface to season them.
Sprinkle generously with Jeff's original rub (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled rub). I do not recommend using store-bought rubs or most other seasonings unless they are very 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 225-240°F with indirect heat.
If your smoker uses a water pan, fill it up.
These do great in almost any smoker, even the grill. I use to do these on the Weber Smoky Mountain all the time, most recently I have done them on a pellet grill such as the Camp Chef Woodwind leaving them on the special smoke setting for 45-60 minutes to get some good, high quality smoke on them before proceeding with the recipe.
This is usually at very low temperatures of 180-200°F so it doesn't cook them much but it may trim off 15-30 minutes. Just remember that temperature is the indicator of when they are actually done.
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.
Use a digital probe meat thermometer such as the ThermoWorks Smoke to monitor the pork steaks so you'll know when they reach their perfect done temperature. I recommend taking them to about 185°F.
Another great tool is the ThermoPop digital pocket thermometer which reads in 3-4 seconds (that's fast), is splash-proof and only $34. One of my favorite toys.. er, tools;-)
When the steaks are about 30 minutes from being done you can glaze the top side with Jeff's barbecue sauce (Purchase formula here | Purchase bottled sauce).
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 185°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 185°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 185°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.