Sometimes, when you’re browsing through the meat section of the supermarket, you’ll come across something labeled “pork steak ready shoulder butt.” It looks like it would be a decent match for your pulled pork recipe, but what exactly is this mysterious cut? The answer isn’t as complicated as it may seem.
Pork Steak Ready Shoulder Butt
When you see a cut that looks like pork butt and is labeled as “pork steak ready,” it probably means that the meat has been pre-cut in some way. We would suggest having the butcher cut it into smaller pieces, if that’s what you would prefer. Otherwise, go ahead and cook the whole thing off as you would a regular pork butt.
What Does “Shoulder Butt” Mean?
When it comes to pork, the descriptions can be misleading. A whole pork shoulder consists of the portion just behind the animal’s head, as well as the top section of the foreleg.
This cut is quite large—usually 15 pounds or more. It’s popular among restaurant owners, but home chefs might find it daunting. Fortunately, whole pork shoulder is typically divided into two segments. Both have positive qualities, but they’re different enough to merit the distinction.
The upper portion of the shoulder is called the pork butt, or Boston butt. It has a thick, rectangular appearance, plenty of marbling, and a creamy white fat cap that contributes richness and flavor to the meat.
Below the pork butt is the shoulder, also called the picnic roast or picnic shoulder. When separated from the butt, it has a crooked triangular shape and a decent amount of fat, though not quite as much marbling as its counterpart.
It’s possible to use pork butt when the recipe calls for pork shoulder, or vice versa. However, pork butt is the superior choice when making pulled pork, thanks to its high fat content and uniform shape.
Since pork butt comes from the shoulder of the pig, the term “shoulder butt” may turn up on the label. You should be confident that you’re buying the butt and not the picnic shoulder if this is the case. However, check to make sure the cut is rectangular or barrel-shaped, with a dark pink color and streaks of white fat running throughout.
Pork Steak Ready Shoulder Butt Defined
Manufacturers will sometimes add the term “pork steak ready” to their packaged pork butt. It’s not entirely clear why they do this. Most likely, they’re trying to make a large cut of meat sound more manageable by implying that it can be cut into smaller portions—steaks, in other words.
Should you cut one of these pork butts into steaks? Sure, but we would suggest having your butcher do it instead. The cut probably contains pieces of bone, which can be difficult to work around in a home kitchen. Even if it’s been run through a meat saw to make it “steak ready,” it’s better to leave that job to the professionals.
You can also prepare this product just as you would a regular pork butt. It should be the same cut of meat—just with a slightly different name and perhaps a few slashes here and there. Make sure to keep a close eye on the internal temperature, and pull it from the heat when it registers about 195 degrees on an instant-read thermometer.
About Pork Steaks
While we’re on the subject, let’s talk about pork steaks. These shouldn’t be confused with pork chops, which are cut from the loin region. When the cut is labeled as pork steak, it usually means it came from the shoulder. These cuts may also called “blade steaks” or “pork blade steaks.”
Pork steaks should include a portion of the blade bone, which contributes flavor and moisture to the meat. If you’d prefer, you can remove the bone before cooking to make the steaks easier to eat.
One nice side benefit of cutting the pork butt into steaks is that you can cook off as much as you need and freeze the rest for later. Since cooking a whole pork butt often means dealing with days of leftovers (not necessarily a bad thing!), this makes the steaks a convenient option.
It’s important to cook pork steaks correctly, as the meat can be tough. You can offset this effect by pounding the steaks with a tenderizing mallet and using a marinade with acidic ingredients. Just don’t marinate the meat for too long, or it will turn to mush on the grill.
Cooking Pork Steaks on the Grill
To make excellent grilled pork steaks, trim any excess fat from around the edges. Remove the bone, if desired.
If you’re using a marinade, put the steaks in the mixture now and refrigerate for 4 to 8 hours. Once you’re ready to start cooking, pat the meat dry on both sides with paper towels. If you chose not to marinate the pork, try seasoning it with kosher salt, black pepper, paprika, garlic powder, oregano, and cumin.
For gas grills, set the heat to medium-high. Close the lid and let the grill preheat for 5-10 minutes. If you’re using a charcoal grill (our preferred method), build a medium-hot fire. Make sure the cooking grates are clean and lightly oiled before adding the steaks.
Grill the steaks until the internal temperature registers at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, about 5-6 minutes per side. We prefer to cook them to 160 degrees, given the relatively tough nature of the cut.
The pork steaks should be slightly charred on the exteriors, with some crispy fat around the edges. It’s fine if the centers are still showing some pink, but they should still have plenty of moisture. If they’re too dry, the meat is probably overcooked.
Once the pork steaks are done, let them rest for about 5 minutes before serving.
The Bottom Line
As long as the words “pork” and “butt” are on the label, there’s a good chance that’s what you’re getting. If you come across a cut that’s “pork steak ready,” it’s up to you to decide whether or not to leave it whole.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!