Monday, December 14, 2009

Pork shoulder steak

Don't be too dismayed by the not-yet-cooked-through pork steak above. I took this shot right after turning it. We cooked one of these steaks a while back and it was fabulous. I found a jumbo package (4 lbs.) of these in the manager's specials at Safeway. Each steak weighs about 1 lb. Therefore one of them was enough for our dinner.

When you see the word "shoulder" you might be inclined to think braise or slow-roasting. But with a hearty brining period this meat is wonderfully tender and juicy.

One secret to knowing when it is done is found at the top of the meat, right between the 2 rivets on the side of the pan. You can see the pinkness there. When that turns tan the meat is very close to being ready. A couple of minutes after that I made a cut in a thick portion and found it perfectly medium - just a trace of pink in the center.

Another secret to cooking this is not to sear it over high heat. That tightens the fibers. My method was along the lines of butter poaching.

Pork shoulder steak
1 pork shoulder steak, about 3/4" thick, trimmed of excess fat
brine: dissolve 2 tbsp kosher salt, 1 tbsp sugar and 1 tbsp roughly ground black pepper in 2 cups of water
1 tbsp olive or vegetable oil
2 tbsp butter
1 few pinches each of onion powder and garlic powder
more pepper to taste

Put the meat in a freezer bag, add the brine and refrigerate for 3-5 hours. Remove from the fridge about an hour before cooking. Rinse it thoroughly, dry with paper towels and allow to come to room temperature.

Heat the oil and butter until the butter's foam subsides and it just barely starts to brown. My electric range has dials that go from 1 to 10. I heated the pan at 5 then reduced it to 3 after the meat went in.

Sprinkle the top side of the steak with a bit of garlic powder, onion powder and black pepper. Put that side down in the pan and reduce the heat as above. Season the exposed side in similar fashion.

Cook first side for 5-6 minutes then turn. Give the second side another 5-6 minutes. That should get you close to done. Slice into a thick part and have a look. You'll know when it's done to your liking. Having said that, I think it's best to remove it from the pan when there is still trace of pinkness in the center - it's up to you.

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