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Pork shoulder steaks with sage butter

Updated: Tue, 16 February, 2021

Pork shoulder steaks are my favourites: the usually overlooked cut, lovely lean meat in the shape of the little eyelets of meat peaking amongst clean white pork fat. Grill it to perfection!

pork shoulder steaks

What cut of pork for steaks?

There is no end of trouble with pork steaks. What does it even mean: 'pork steaks'? What about chops? Or cutlets? Very confusing; cows are far less problematic: a steak is a steak, sirloin, fillet or rib eye and all the rest is braising or mince.

Once we agree there ARE pork steaks, it's the issue of what cut is the best for them. The loin cuts that are the most common, and commonly thought to be the best, are unbelievably dry in my modest opinion.

The tenderloin is not really a steaking cut; tiny and puny unlike its equivalent on the the beef. The ham is the ham and although I have tried it steaked, chopped, cutletted and so on, it isn’t the best suited for that exercise mainly due to its shape – it is massively unwieldy.

pork steaks with sage butter

Shoulder cut steaks

Pork shoulder is probably my favourite bit of pig. It needs to be marbled with nice, white, clean fat shaping eyelets of pink meat without any nasty veining around. One end of the shoulder cut is the loin end which is better for lean roasts, perhaps sous-vide or at low temperature.

The neck end of the shoulder (also known as collar) is what the Italians make into coppa (called capocollo in central and southern Italy), and in my view it is the most delicious cold cut of meat on the Italian charcuterie platter.

pork shoulder

How to cook pork shoulder?

Pork shoulder can be cooked slow and forever or flash-grilled, similarly to cheaper cuts of lamb. There is no medium or well-done option: if you cook it longer than a flash, it will go tough unless you stick it into the oven for hours.

One of the best uses of the shoulder is in Italian (again!) pork roast with herbs, porchetta. On a large scale in the traditional edition of the dish it is a whole piglet roast. I like to prepare it with pork shoulder/neck/collar. It is reasonably easy to cut open (butterfly) and smear with herbs, roll up again and roast to perfection.

pork steaks with cabbage

Pork shoulder on the grill

For flash cooking or barbecue, shoulder steaks are as suitable. I usually ask the butcher to cut a couple of thick slices off a roasting shoulder joint. The only issue is handling them before and on the grill or griddle.

The slices tend to fall apart a bit where the bones have been cut out and – as pork is wont to do – twist and writhe on the grill, insisting on turning into cups rather than lie flat. But if you use a couple of bamboo skewers to spatchcock each steak and persuade it to lie flat, they should behave and keep straight.

Flavoured butters instead of marinade

My steaks are cooked plain, with just the seasoning of salt and pepper. Only after they've been cooked, hot and resting, I place a dollop of previously prepared flavoured butter, to ooze the flavour all over the meat.

The advantage of this approach over flavoured marinade for the meat to soak in is simple: marinade will burn on the griddle, smoke out the kitchen and make the pan impossible to wash up.

But those considerations aside, it actually makes the meat tastier when it's flavoured, seasoned and spiced while resting and absorbing the cooking juices. My belief is, all very well with marinade on the barbecue - not so much in the kitchen.

Pork shoulder steaks with sage butter

Servings: 2Time: 30 minutes


  • 2 pork steaks cut from shoulder, about 1 inch thick
  • salt and pepper
  • For the sage butter:
  • 5g dried wild mushrooms
  • 2 sprigs of fresh sage
  • 50g butter, softened
  • 2 large pinches of salt


1. Skewer the pork steaks with a couple of meat pins or bamboo skewers horizontally across, to help them remain flat while cooking. Season generously with salt and pepper.

2. To make the sage butter blitz all the ingredients except for a few sage leaves in a blender; scrape onto cling film, shape into a sausage and chill until firm.

3. Preheat the oven to 100C/225F/minimum gas with a large baking tray on middle rack. Brush a griddle or frying pan with oil and heat up until smoking. Turn the heat down to medium.

grilling pork steaks

4. Cook the steaks for 6 minutes on each side. Transfer them to the oven for at least 10 minutes. In the meantime fry the reserved sage leaves in the residual heat on the griddle.

5. Slice pats of the sage butter and place one on each steak; garnish with the fried sage and serve.

Originally published: Mon, 21 January, 2019

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Hello! I'm Anna Gaze, the Cuisine Fiend. Welcome to my recipe collection.

I have lots of recipes for you to choose from: healthy or indulgent, easy or more challenging, quick or involved - but always tasty.


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