Some pitmasters shudder when they see the words “pre-sliced” attached to a meat product. After all, most of us prefer to do the slicing and shredding ourselves. That’s why we got involved in barbecuing to begin with.
In the case of pre-sliced pork shoulder, however, we would recommend setting those prejudices aside. Here, we’ll take a closer look at this label and what it really means.
Pre Sliced Pork Shoulder
Pre-sliced pork shoulder is usually labeled as “pork shoulder steak,” “pork blade steak” or “pork steak.” You can smoke the meat as you would regular pork shoulder, but since the pieces are smaller, they’ll cook more quickly. These cuts can also be grilled quickly over medium-high heat.
What Is Pre Sliced Pork Shoulder?
This cut is popular in the Midwest, but it can be difficult to find elsewhere. If you’d like to give it a try but are having a hard time finding it, try asking the staff at your local specialty butcher shop.
Just like whole pork shoulder, the pre-sliced variety may be sold boneless or bone-in. You can leave the bones in place during cooking if you prefer, but it’s also possible to remove them and cook the meat by itself.
Pre Sliced Pork Shoulder: Pros & Cons
Since pork shoulder is such a large cut of meat, it can be intimidating for many budding pitmasters. While we think it’s easy to cook once you get the hang of it, it does require a long smoking process.
The generous size means that this cut also yields a lot of meat. That may be a turnoff for singles or couples who don’t want to deal with a ton of leftovers.
By contrast, pre-sliced pork shoulder steaks can be ready in a hurry. You don’t even have to fire up the grill—just pan-sear them over high heat, or roast them in the oven. It’s also easier to customize the serving sizes.
Can You Freeze Pre-Sliced Pork Shoulder?
This cut freezes well, but we would recommend thawing and cooking off the raw steaks within 3 months. The texture may suffer from longer storage periods, especially when it comes to thinner cuts.
You should follow the same guidelines if you’ve already cooked off the pork. Freeze any leftovers within 3 to 4 days, then thaw and reheat within 3 months.
Is Pre-Sliced Pork Shoulder Tender?
As you may already know, pork shoulder is a naturally tough cut. It comes from a portion of the leg that gets a fair amount of exercise, and the meat has a great deal of fat and connective tissue.
This means that pork shoulder steaks can be tough unless they’re given the proper treatment. Try pounding the steaks with a meat tenderizer before you cook them. If the bone is still in the meat, take care not to pound too close to it, or it may shatter.
Marinating the meat can also help. Use acidic ingredients that have natural tenderizing properties, such as vinegar or lemon juice. Leave the pork in the marinade for at least 30 minutes, but no longer than 12 hours.
Do You Have To Trim The Fat?
You certainly can, but it’s not really necessary. A little bit of fat will imbue the steaks with flavor and moisture as they cook.
If you want to cut back on fat for health reasons, go ahead and trim off as much as you like. Also, keep in mind that if the cuts are especially fatty, the grease might drip off and cause flare-ups during cooking.
How To Grill Pork Blade Steaks
1. Trim the fat and remove the bone from the meat, if desired. Pat the steaks dry using paper towels.
2. If using a marinade, add the pork to the mixture now. A blend of olive oil, apple cider vinegar, smoked paprika, cumin, oregano, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper should work well.
3. Preheat the grill to medium-high. Clean and oil the cooking grates.
4. Remove the steaks from the marinade, if necessary. Pat the meat dry with paper towels.
5. Add the meat to the grill and cook, turning once, for about 5-6 minutes per side.
6. Remove the pork to a plate and tent loosely with foil. Let the meat rest for 5-10 minutes before serving.
At What Temperature Is Pre-Sliced Pork Shoulder Done?
Pork is considered safe to eat when the internal temp reaches 145 degrees Fahrenheit. If you like your pork more on the well-done side, feel free to cook it to 160 degrees. Just be careful—the meat may be tough and dry if you overcook it.
Don’t worry if the pork is still slightly pink in the middle when you cut into it. That doesn’t necessarily mean it’s undercooked. The best way to test for doneness is to insert an instant-read thermometer in the center of the thickest steak.
Can You Add Barbecue Sauce To Pre-Sliced Pork Shoulder?
While pork steaks taste great when seasoned with a simple herb blend—or even just salt and pepper—they also pair well with barbecue sauce.
As with any grilled or smoked meat, don’t add the sauce too early. Wait until the meat is nearly finished cooking, then slather the sauce on one side and flip the meat. Brush the other side with sauce, then flip again and let it cook for another minute or two.
Can You Smoke Pre Sliced Pork Shoulder?
Pork shoulder steaks cook quickly over medium-high heat, but you can also cook them low and slow.
Set the smoker to 225 degrees, the way you would if you were smoking the whole shoulder. Add the prepared pork steaks and cook for about 2.5 hours.
When prepared this way, you can cook the meat to 185 degrees. It will be more tender than if you’d grilled it, but it should remain moist due to the low heat. If you’re worried that the steaks will dry out, try adding a water pan to the smoker.
The Bottom Line
If you’re looking for smaller portions, or you don’t have time to smoke an entire pork shoulder, consider giving pre-sliced pork shoulder a try. The meat should be just as delicious—you just need to adjust your preparation technique.
Best of luck, and happy grilling!