How to braise pork steak to tender perfection, with onions for sweetness and savory aromas.
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Read on for relevant tips and step-by-step video + pictures (1 min)
About This Braised Pork Shoulder Steak Recipe
Slow cooking is perfectly suited for pork steaks cut from the shoulder area of the animal. They are nicely marbled and hence full of flavor. The thicker they are, the better the results with a moist, low heat cooking method such as braising.
In this pork steak recipe we rely on onions as the ultimate aromatic braising companion to the meat, as well as the roasty notes of stout ale and the appetizing smokiness of chipotles in Adobo sauce. The partnership between dark ale and onions is always a successful one (we use it again and again when cooking with beer) and complements the richness of pork shoulder perfectly.
There are other delicious directions you can go with the braising liquid – be sure to consult the short section just above the Recipe Card listing several ideas.
You Will Need
- Pork steaks. Just over an inch thick and about 6 oz on average. Note that thicker cut pork shoulder blade steaks are more suitable for braising, whereas thinner cuts are easier to grill or sear in skillet, especially cast iron.
- Onions. Yellow, red or white/sweet onions are all suitable.
- Flavorful liquid(s). In this instance we used stout and homemade pork stock to create the braising liquid, but you have many options – other dark ales or lagers, red wine, beef stock.
- Tomato paste and chipotles (in Adobo sauce). Again, we use both in this instance to lend acidity, smokiness and a touch of heat. If you do not have Adobo chipotles on hand you can use smoked paprika instead and/or a bit of cayenne. If using wine, no need for tomato paste and you can always skip the chipotle.
- Olive oil, seasonings & herbs. To sear the pork steak and infuse the braising liquid with more flavors. Brown sugar is always great in combination with stouts, porters or other dark beers.
COOKWARE. A braiser like the one you see above is perfect for this recipe. A Dutch oven can definitely work if you are cooking only two steaks (or use a larger, oval shaped Dutch oven). If you are making more than four steaks, consider using a roasting pan and instead of a lid use two or three layers of aluminum foil, tightly sealed around the edges so no moisture escapes.
- Brown & sauté. Heat a skillet or the actual braiser which you will be using. Season the pork steak with salt and pepper, liberally and brown it on both sides to create a layer of flavor. Sear in batches. Sauté the onions just until they turn translucent.
- Make the braising liquid. Work the tomato paste and chipotle into the onions, then deglaze with some of the stout (or stock in not using stout) and scrape all the brown bits (aka pure flavor) from the bottom of the pan/braiser. Add the rest of the stout, then the brown sugar, cumin and thyme. Finally add the stock and stir everything together.
- Braise. Place the seared pork steaks on top, cover and put the braiser in the oven. When the steaks are almost as tender as you’d like them to be, remove the lid or foil covering the braiser/pan and return to the oven so that the dry heat can help form an appetizing finish on top of the meat. About 10-15 minutes is sufficient. If too much fat has been rendered skim it with a spoon before serving.
How Long to Braise Pork Shoulder Steaks?
You cannot rush the process of fat and collagen melting to lubricate the meat and create flavor and tenderness. Pork shoulder is a cut that needs to be cooked until tender, however long this takes.
Test the steaks with a fork after 1.5 hours of braising and decide how much longer to let them cook. This will also allow you to asses the level of liquid remaining in the braiser or roasting pan.
- If the pork still feels a bit firm when pressed and the liquids are running low, add a bit of water and let it braise a bit longer, then check again.
- If the steaks are already tender, finish braising uncovered. You can even turn off the oven and just let the remaining dry heat complete the cooking.
Serving Tips & Flavor Variations for Slow Cooked Pork Steaks
The braised pork steaks should look as in the above picture – a rich brownish red color develops from the tomato paste and chipotle. Serve over/in combination with classic sides like steamed/boiled rice, mashed potatoes, grits/polenta, sauerkraut, roasted root vegetables, baked apple slices. Garnish with parsley or fresh thyme leaves.
As to recipe twists to change the flavor profile of the pork steak and onions consider these variations:
- Apple cider & sage. Omit the tomato paste and chipotle in Adobo sauce. Use about 12 ounces of apple cider instead of stout and substitute the thyme with sage.
- Red wine & thyme. Once again skip the tomato paste and Adobo chipotle. Use one cup of full-bodied red wine and double the amount of thyme, also consider adding a bit of dried thyme.
- Brown ale, beef stock and dried porcini mushrooms. This is a deeply satisfying umami version of the recipe. Instead of tomato paste, add a bit of balsamic for acidity, skip the Adobo chipotle, but add a couple of dried porcinis. They will infuse the brown ale and beef stock braising liquid with rich earthiness and the resulting umami flavors of the dish are a real treat.
Idea for Leftover Braised Pork Steak
Braising is a slow process and we often make an extra couple of blade steaks while we are at it for the express purpose of having leftovers.
The fork tender pork, with the onions nearly melted into the delicious sauce make a great filling for mini pot pies. They are also great with beans or as a tacos or nachos topping.
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- 4 pork steaks, just over 1 inch thick and about 6 oz each
- salt & pepper for seasoning*
- 1 tbsp olive oil
- 3 onions**, sliced
- 1 tbsp tomato paste (heaping)
- 1 tbsp chipotles in Adobo sauce***
- 12 oz stout ale (or porter or brown ale)****
- 2 cups stock (pork or beef)
- 1 tbsp dark brown sugar
- 2 tsp cumin, ground
- 5-6 sprigs fresh thyme (or 1 tsp dried)
- Heat the oven to 300 F. Trim any excess fat from the periphery of the steaks (optional) and season them liberally with salt and pepper.
- Heat a braiser over medium-high (or a skillet if you will be braising in a roasting pan), add the olive oil and sear the seasoned pork shoulder steaks on each side, working in batches of 2. Set aside, lower the heat to medium.
- Add the onions and sauté until translucent, 4-5 minutes. Add the tomato paste and chipotle in Adobo and stir them into the onions. Cook about 1 minute. Deglaze with the stout (or stock or wine) and be sure to scrape all the brown bits from the bottom of the braiser/skillet.
- Add the brown sugar, cumin, thyme and all the stock. Stir to combine, place the pork steaks on top and cover with the braiser lid (or transfer everything to a roasting pan, place the steaks on top and tightly cover with 2 layers of foil so no moisture escapes). Place in oven and braise for 1.5 hours.
- After 1.5 hours check the pork for tenderness by pressing on it with a fork. If tender enough to your liking, braise uncovered for an additional 10-15 minutes for an appetizing finish. If not tender enough, cover and braise a bit longer until satisfied (add a bit of water if liquid is really low).
- Serve garnished with a bit of finely chopped parsley of fresh picked thyme leaves.
Before serving if there is too much fat rendered by the pork shoulder, skim it with a spoon.
* to taste, but season liberally for best results
** yellow, red, white/sweet onions all work great
*** you can use just the sauce for less heat and smokiness or, alternatively, you can add a bit more if you are seeking more pronounced flavors
****you can substitute with stock or red wine (if red wine use 1 cup only and consider skipping the tomato paste to avoid too much acidity)
For other delicious flavor variations of the recipe read the last section of the post, above this card.
Nutrition Information:Yield: 4 Serving Size: 1
Amount Per Serving: Calories: 325Total Fat: 13gSaturated Fat: 3gTrans Fat: 0gUnsaturated Fat: 8gCholesterol: 44mgSodium: 403mgCarbohydrates: 21gFiber: 2gSugar: 9gProtein: 16g