Pork shoulder (sometimes called Boston butt) is one of America’s most popular meats for barbecuing—pulled or chopped pork shoulder is in the top three, according to firstwefeast.com.
But in backyards in St. Louis, Missouri, that shoulder is more likely to be sliced crosswise into finger-thick steaks, seasoned simply, direct grilled over a hot charcoal fire, then dipped in a locally popular barbecue sauce called Maull’s. When cut crosswise, it’s easy to see the various muscles that make up a porcine shoulder. Some are tender and well-marbled, some are leaner and tougher, giving the diner a mixture of textural experiences on one plate. The steaks also contain a crosscut section of the Y-shaped bone, the one that releases easily from a well-done whole pork shoulder.
The steaks are frequently referred to as blade steaks, and are a staple at St. Louis meat counters. Elsewhere, you might have to ask your butcher to cut them special for you. Ask him or her to leave the collar of fat on; it will help the steaks stay juicy when exposed to the high heat of the grill. We like to cut slits into the fat at intervals to prevent the steaks from curling as they cook. And because the fat can incite flare-ups, be sure to maintain a safety zone on your grill grate. (Although a few licks of live fire enhance the flavor, in our opinion.)
Eminently affordable (each steak was less than $5 when we recently priced them) and great for a weeknight supper, we recommend you welcome Fall with St. Louis-style pork steaks. They’re great for parties, too: Once grilled, they can be transferred to a disposable aluminum pan with a splash of beer and some of the aforementioned barbecue sauce. Cover tightly with foil, and hold for up to 2 hours on the indirect side of the grill. Worthy side dishes include Smoked Creamed Corn, Smoked Coleslaw, and Smokehouse Beans.
St. Louis Pork Steaks