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Grilled Pork Steaks

Featuring grilled pork steaks, resting and ready to eat.

Level up on your weeknight dinner with the bold, bright, and savory flavors of Grilled Pork Steaks with the perfect bite of caramelized crust and juicy meat. Combining simple ingredients with a quick cooking method, you’ll see that barbecue isn’t just for the weekends. 

Cooking pork steaks is a simple process, loaded with spicy and savory flavors.

Your mouth is going to be watering the second these pork shoulder steaks hit the grill. Aromas hit your nose immediately, and it just keeps getting better.

Basted in a tangy, spicy mop sauce, this full sensory experience will have you anticipating the first slice. Serve these up with Smoked Baked Beans or Creamy Smoked Mac and Cheese for the full barbecue experience.

Need more pork recipes? Try one of our favorites such as Smoked Country Style Ribs, Smoked Pork Steaks, or even Smoked Pork Belly Burnt Ends.

I'm serving this pork shoulder steak to you.

Why This Method Works

  • Easy Process – Some pork shoulder steak recipes have you smoking the pork low and slow. This recipe for grilled pork shoulder steaks combines high heat with a simple mop sauce and basting method. The result? Beautifully crusted pork that comes together quickly making it ideal for any night of the week and any level of griller. 
  • Budget Friendly – Unlike other cuts of meat, pork steaks are a relatively budget-friendly protein that you’ll often find on sale in family packs. Go ahead and cook extra because not all of it will make it to the plate. The mop sauce is also friendly on the wallet utilizing common ingredients you probably already have in your pantry. 
  • Balance of Flavors – This recipe is influenced by the flavors of regionally traditional Monroe County pork steaks combining a singing spicy and tangy vinegar-based dip. This version pulls from that while hitting all of the happy notes of acid, spice, and sweetness without anyone upstaging the other.
Pork shoulder steaks grill quickly, so don't walk away.

History of Monroe County Pork Steaks

Unless you’ve been through Monroe County, Kentucky, and the surrounding counties of southern Kentucky and northern Tennessee, you might not be familiar with this regional style of barbecue. The components of this dish are pork shoulder steaks grilled over hickory wood embers, dipped twice in a cayenne and black pepper forward vinegar, and lard sauce. 

According to Ms. Bartlett of R&S Barbecue, she learned to cook these pork steaks from Alex Erwin Tooley of Tooley’s BBQ, the first barbecue restaurant in Tompkinsville, KY. The assertive tongue-tingling pepper and vinegar sauce dates back to a recipe from an old slave camp in Cave City, an hour northwest of Tompkinsville.

While the slow and low whole pork shoulders have popularity throughout the United States, Wes Berry, the author of “The Kentucky Barbecue Book” and English professor at Western Kentucky University believes the use of pork steaks is rooted in the very location of Monroe County. Situated in the heart of Kentucky farm country, with tobacco being a major crop, farmhands needed a quick cooking, calorie-dense meal that would keep them fueled and satiated during harvest season.

Make sure you look for thin pork shoulder steaks, less than 1/2 inch if possible.

Ingredients for Grilled Pork Steaks

  • Pork Shoulder Steaks – These well marbled often bone-in steaks come from the pork shoulder. Their thin cut makes them ideal for quick cooking while still delivering a big, rich, meaty flavor. They can also be labeled as blade steaks. Make sure you look for thin cuts, ideally 1/2-inch thick or less.
  • Seasoning – Traditionally, these are seasoned with a generous amount of salt and pepper only. However, at Chiles and Smoke, we always like to kick it up a few notches.

    Nashville Hot Seasoning doubles up on the sweet and spicy flavors of the mop sauce. You can adjust the heat according to your preferred spice level. In a pinch, you can also use your favorite barbecue seasoning, but look for a blend that brings that balance of sweet and heat, such as our Signature Sweet & Smoky Rub.
  • Mop Sauce – This is where that Monroe County’s influence comes to play. Butter adds richness and is the base for this sauce along with clean, bright white vinegar and slightly sweeter but just as tangy apple cider vinegar. In addition to the classic cayenne and black pepper, hot sauce also builds on the heat while honey adds depth of flavor that balances out the spice and tang.
These are the ingredient for the mop sauce, and it needs to be warmed up and mixed.

How to Grill Pork Steaks

  1. Prepare the pork. Season both sides of your pork steaks and allow them to sit out for about fifteen minutes to come to room temperature and allow the seasoning to permeate a little. This is a great time to heat up your grill as well as make your mop sauce.
  2. Prepare the mop sauce. Add all of your ingredients for the basting sauce to a grill-safe saucepan over medium-low heat. Stir it until the butter, honey, and salt are completely dissolved. Keep it on low heat until you’re ready to put your pork shoulder steaks on.
Melt the ingredients together for the mop sauce and keep it warm.
  1. Prepare your grill for two-zone cooking. Bank your charcoal to one side leaving a cooler spot. Add hickory chips or a chunk of hickory at this time. You want the heat around medium. Make sure that your grates are clean and fully heated before adding your pork steaks.
  2. Have the sauce ready. Place the mop sauce on the cool side of the grill to keep warm.
  3. It’s time to grill. Place your seasoned pork shoulder steaks over direct heat. Allow the first side to grill for 2-3 minutes to develop a little char. They should easily release when flipped.
Sear the pork steaks and flip as needed. They should char quickly because of their thin cut and the fatty mop sauce.
  1. Give them a flip and baste lightly with your mop sauce. Continue this process of basting and flipping every couple of minutes. If they seem like they’re cooking too quickly, transfer them to the cooler zone to slow down the cooking process. 
  2. Repeat until they are done. Continue to cook your pork steaks until they’re bronzed and charred on the outside and they register 145°F for medium-rare.
  3. Remove them from the grill and baste them one last time. As hard as it is to not just dive in, allow them to rest for several minutes before serving.
Baste the grilled pork steaks every time they are flipped, which build flavor and keeps them moist.

Important Tips

  • Because of the fat in the pork steaks and the butter in the mop sauce, make sure you watch for flare-ups. You can move them to indirect heat for control.
  • Since this high-heat cooking process does tend to produce flare-ups a charcoal grill is recommended for this. Not only will a propane grill create more of a mess, but they also tend to have more flare-ups which can produce an off-putting smell and slightly acrid taste.
  • Trust yourself and use your intuition. Flip and baste often. This will prevent one side from burning while also developing that charred crust. If you feel like one side is cooking too fast or your pork steaks are getting too dark too quickly simply move them over to the cooler side to slow down the cooking process.
These grilled pork steaks are ready to come off the grill and be dipped in the mop sauce.
  • Don’t worry if you didn’t hit your target of 145°F and overcooked your pork steaks. They will still be delicious with the mop sauce delivering bold flavor and moisture. 
  • These pork steaks are a thin cut. If your pork steaks are thinner than ¼” each, allow for two per person. Trust us, you’ll be eating these full caveman, savage style once you discover how good they are.
Make sure you mop the pork steaks one more time with the sauce for extra flavor.

Frequently Asked Questions

How spicy are grilled pork steaks?

These pork steaks have an exciting, tongue-tingling kick to them. Both the Nashville hot seasoning and the mop sauce contain heat.

Can I use this Monroe County dip on other proteins?

Yes. Try this mop sauce on other cuts of pork such as pork tenderloin or pork chops. You could also dip wings or chicken drummies in this.

What is the best temperature for pork steaks?

Take them off the grill at around 145°F for medium-rare. Resting for a few minutes is also highly recommended.

How long should pork steaks be cooked?

Grilling pork steaks only takes about 10 minutes. It depends on how thick the steaks are sliced, but roughly 4-5 minutes per side. This recipe flips often and bastes with the mop sauce, slightly increasing the time, but building lots of additional flavor.

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Featuring grilled pork steaks, resting and ready to eat.

Grilled Pork Steaks

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Get ready for savory and spicy Grilled Pork steaks, basted with layers of tangy flavor over the grill for a quick weeknight meal.

  • Total Time: 20 minutes
  • Yield: Serves 2-3 1x

Ingredients

Scale

Mop Sauce

  • 1 stick unsalted butter
  • 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1/2 cup white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons hot sauce (more for heat)
  • 2 tablespoons finely ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon ground cayenne pepper
  • 1 tablespoon Kosher salt

Instructions

  1. Season the pork steaks. Allow the pork to rest for about 15 minutes at room temperature while the grill heats up.

Notes

  • Don’t worry if you didn’t hit your target of 145°F and overcooked your pork steaks. They will still be delicious with the mop sauce delivering bold flavor and moisture.
  • Because of the fat in the pork steaks and the butter in the mop sauce, make sure you watch for flare-ups. You can move them to indirect heat for control.
  • Author: Brad Prose
  • Prep Time: 10 minutes
  • Cook Time: 10 minutes
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