Pork steak is either a shoulder butt or shoulder blade cut of pig meat. Because it is taken from a well-used muscle, pork steak is relatively lean but not particularly tender. The solution to its less-than-ideal texture is to brine the meat before cooking. You can cook a pork steak fairly quickly and easily using several methods. Recipes are plentiful and varied, as are the options for accompanying foods.
Brining the Meal
Brining pork steaks improves their texture and enhances their flavor. For the simplest preparation, dissolve 1 cup of table or kosher salt in 1 gallon of water. Add 1/2 cup of sugar as a sweetening agent, if you like. Submerge the pork in the brine, seal the container, and refrigerate for 1 to 12 hours. The longer the soak, the better the results. Your brining solution can double as a marinade for convenience. Simply replace half the water with red or white wine, orange, or another fruit juice or vinegar. You can also substitute an equal amount of brown sugar, honey, molasses, or maple syrup for the sugar. Impart other flavors into your pork steaks while they brine by adding herbs and spices such as dried spicy ranch dip mix to the solution.
Cooking the Meal
Cook pork steaks by frying, grilling, or baking them. Remove them from the brine and the refrigerator half an hour prior to cooking, as chilled pork cooks unevenly. Season the meat to taste, or according to a chosen recipe. Preheat cooking oil in a frying pan until it rolls around in the pan as fluidly as water; preheat the grill to medium-high heat, or preheat the oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Fry pork steaks for about three minutes per side, grill them for about eight minutes per side, or bake them for about 45 minutes per side. Cooking times vary by a variety of factors, though, so use a meat thermometer to ensure that the pork steaks' internal temperatures reach 145 degrees Fahrenheit.
Balancing the Meal
Pork steaks are the protein for your meal, and also the fat. Unfortunately, they contain unhealthy saturated fat, so avoid adding any other saturated fat to the meal. Use monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fat-based oils, such as olive oil or canola oil, rather than butter when you prepare the sides. Prepare a side of fresh vegetables tossed with your favorite creamy dressing with pork steaks. Recipes adding a fruit compote to the pork steaks are a tasty way of providing more nutrients, too. Make a whole grain side to round out the meal. Brown or wild rice is a versatile option, but even a slice of whole grain bread works. Top off the meal with a small low-fat or fat-free dairy dessert, such as a scoop of low-fat ice cream or fat-free yogurt with fresh fruit.
Limiting the Meal
Despite its famous, long-time tagline identifying it as "the other white meat," pork is in fact a red meat. As such, it is high in saturated fat and cholesterol, and pork, once its brined, is also high in sodium. Pork steaks are therefore may not be a particularly healthy choice for dinner for diners with dietary restrictions. While there's nothing wrong with enjoying the occasional pork entree, limit it to about once a week. Red meat consumption is associated with increased risks of developing heart disease and certain cancers, as well as a higher mortality rate.
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- U.S. Department of Agriculture and Food Safety; Pork from Farm to Table; June 2011
- Harvard School of Public Health: The Healthy Eating Pyramid
- CNN Health; Want to Live Longer? Cut Back on Red Meat; Jacquelyne Froeber; March 2009
- Hoosier Times; Simple Brine for Pork, Poultry, Salmon or Shrimp; 2003
- "Bon Appetit;" Pork Blade Steaks with Nduja and Honey and Arugula Salad; Jimmy Bannos, Jr.; September 2010
- "Food and Wine;" Shewchuk's Spice-Crusted Pork-Blade Steaks; Ron Shewchuk
- Flying Colours Ltd/Digital Vision/Getty Images