Pork shoulder is my favorite piece of pig, and these St. Louis style Pressure Cooker Pork Steaks show it off in all its glory.
Pulled (or chopped) pork shoulder is the dominant style of barbecue in most of the Southern US. Pulled pork reigns from North and South Carolina in the east, and sweeps west until it hits the wall of beef barbecue in Texas. Barbecued pork steaks are St. Louis specialty1, cross-cut from the shoulder into inch thick steaks.
Pork shoulder needs long cooking times. The shoulder is a hard-working muscle, full of connective tissue. Undercooked pork shoulder is tough and chewy. If you cook it long enough, the connective tissue melts into gelatin, and the shoulder turns tender and juicy. An Instant Pot (or another pressure cooker) stands in for the traditional barbecue smoker. I replace hours and hours of low-and-slow barbecue with 45 minutes at high pressure. Sure, it’s not the same as Real Barbecue™. But it is juicy, tender, and a whole lot faster.
(For the record: Yes, I know this isn’t barbecue. I don’t know why I bother apologizing; angry barbecue purists looked at the title and jumped straight to leaving angry comments. As we speak, they’re yelling at me about sullying the spirit of St. Louis. Oh well. That’s what the “Delete Comment” button is for.)
Here in Ohio, the trick to this recipe is finding thick-cut pork shoulder steaks. My local grocery stores sell pork shoulder steaks, but they always cut a half-inch thick. I have to take a shoulder roast to the butcher and ask him to cut it thick, somewhere between an inch and an inch and a quarter. Other than that, I consider this a weeknight recipe; it takes a little over an hour to cook, but only ten minutes of that is active time.
Video: Pressure Cooker Pork Steaks St. Louis BBQ Style (2:04)
Video: Pressure Cooker Pork Steaks St. Louis BBQ Style [YouTube.com]Print
Pressure Cooker Pork Steaks, St. Louis BBQ Style. Pork shoulder steaks, BBQ style, ready in about an hour from an Instant Pot or pressure cooker.
- 6 thick-cut pork shoulder steaks (1- to 1¼-inch thick)
- 1 teaspoon barbecue rub (My homemade rub is here, or use a store-bought rub)
- 1 teaspoon fine sea salt (If you use homemade rub – store-bought rub will already have salt)
- 1 cup water (or the minimum amount for your pressure cooker)
- ½ cup barbecue sauce for the cooker (My homemade barbecue sauce recipe is here, or use a store-bought sauce)
- ½ cup barbecue sauce to stir into the sauce
- Prepare the pork steaks: Sprinkle the pork steaks evenly with the fine sea salt and the barbecue rub.
- Everything in the pot: Pour 1 cup of water into the pressure cooker pot, add the pork steaks in a loose pile, and then drizzle ½ cup of barbecue sauce over the pork steaks. (Don’t stir – we want the sweet barbecue sauce to float on top of the water to keep it from burning.)
- Pressure cook for 45 minutes with a natural pressure release: Lock the lid on the pressure cooker. Cook at high pressure for 45 minutes in an electric pressure cooker (“manual” or “pressure cook” mode in an Instant Pot), or for 40 minutes in a stovetop pressure cooker. Let the pressure release naturally, about 15 more minutes.
- Broil (optional) and serve: Carefully remove the pork steaks from the pressure cooker; they’re fall-apart tender. Measure out ½ cup of the pot liquid, and stir in ½ cup of barbecue sauce. (If you have one, use a fat separator to defat the pot liquid first). Brush the pork steaks with this sauce. Optional: broil the pork steaks until the sauce is bubbling and browning at the edges, then brush with another layer of the sauce. (Broilers vary a lot, so keep an eye on them – it takes about 5 minutes for my broiler to brown the steaks.) Serve, passing the rest of the sauce for dipping.
- I make my own homemade barbecue rub and barbecue sauce. My homemade rub is salt-free; if you use a store-bought rub, and it has salt as the first or second ingredient in the ingredient list, skip the fine sea salt – it has enough salt already.
What do you think?
Questions? Other ideas? Leave them in the comments section below.
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- I’m already curling into a ball, bracing for the hate mail from St. Louis. “This isn’t real barbecue!” I know, I know, low and slow over a wood fire, maybe with charcoal. The barbecue purists are already mad at me, and Texas thinks I messed with their chili, so…everything is normal? ↩︎