Most of the time you go looking, you’ll find this as smothered pork CHOPS. Well, this is another ‘poor man’s food’ that got popular on the wealthier tables. Even so, chops replaced steaks. Why?
A big reason is that chops are a better cut. They’re a chunk of loin, a tender, low(er) fat, low connective tissue, small bone delight. The steak on the other hand is a slice of the boston butt. The forward shoulder. That’s a popular section for slow BBQ because all the tissue and fat dissolves in that slow heat. Which means it’s perfect for this braising dish.
Yes, smothered pork steak is a braised dish. You take your slices. You season them and dredge them. You… wait, what? Oh, season. Salt and pepper the first time. Later you can play with things like garlic powder and thyme and paprika and mustard and, well, whatever you like in a “rub”. Anyway, back to the litany.
Once you’ve dredged them you brown them briefly in your (deep) skillet — just a couple of minutes per side. Set them to the side, it’s time to have fun.
You slice an onion (well, do this ahead so stuff doesn’t burn) and toss it into the oil in your skillet. Now let that caramelize. When the rings are light brown, add about two tablespoons of your dredging flour and make a loose roux. Work it a bit to pick up the brown bits that’ll be stuck to your skillet. Now stir in a couple cups of liquid. Water works quite well, but you can up the oomph with some broth. (Please, don’t use pork broth here. It never seems to taste right if you do.)
Stir it up till it’s mixed and starts to bubble (and thicken). Turn the heat down to low or medium low, add the pork slices back in, and put a lid on it. You’re going to let this go for 30 to 40 minutes.
When time is up, pull the meat and turn up the heat. Let the liquid thicken till it’s gravy consistency, and you’re ready. Oh – and be careful pulling out the meat. It’s pretty much at fall apart stage here – no need for a knife, no sweating any gristle, just melt in your mouth protein.
Now if you’re going to be good and ‘poor’ you have rice or potatoes as a starch to soak up this lovely gravy, and some green beans or turnip greens on the side. As you can see, this time I went for the mashed potatoes and green beans.
Pork Steak is a tough piece of meat with a lot of tissue you’d rather not have if you’re being upscale. But smothered is a perfect way to take care of it. And since pork steak tends to cost a LOT less than pork CHOPS, well, why not take advantage of a great meal built on the meat?