September 5, 2017 at 3:32 p.m.

Braised pork shoulder steaks seasoned with pocket lint

By Sadie [email protected] | Comments: 0 | Leave a comment

When I really think about it, this story actually started a little over a year ago, when we brought the two pigs we had raised to the locker.
I brought the hogs to town, Glen gave the locker our cutting orders, and a week later we picked up the meat.
It had been several years since we had pork in the freezer, so it was quite a treat to add some variety to our cuisine. The bacon disappeared within a matter of weeks, except for the couple packages we found in the bottom of the freezer last month. The breakfast sausage lasted a little bit longer, but not much, since Dan officially declared breakfast sausage his favorite meat. We ate up the pork roasts within a couple months too, because I could simply drop a roast in the slow cooker, add some broth and seasoning and serve up Glen's favorite dinner a few hours later.
The pork chops were wonderful too, but they came with some challenges. First, it was a struggle to get Dan to eat them. Dan has become somewhat picky about what meat he'll eat willingly and what he won't. He doesn't like any meat that requires more chewing than sausage. (Monika, on the other hand, must be part wolf-pup, because she seems to inhale the meat on her plate. I'm not sure she really even chews it.) The second challenge is that pork chops require time in the kitchen right before mealtime, and that's time I don't always have.
As challenging as they could be, pork chops still made it onto the menu enough to reduce the stash in the freezer. Nobody - including us - thought our little family would be able to consume two hogs, two lambs and a half a steer in one year, but we've done a pretty good job. There's not much left in the freezer, which is a good thing, because we brought this summer's pigs and lambs to the locker this week.
In anticipation of restocking the freezer, I've been on a mission to eat up the remainder of last year's meat, which is mostly cuts of pork and lamb that I have avoided cooking until now.
Among the remaining supply are several white packages labeled pork shoulder steak. Before the boxes of meat came home last fall, I had never heard of pork shoulder steaks.
But, whatever they are, they must be eaten, I told myself. So, a couple weeks ago, I thawed out a package with plans to pan-fry or broil them for dinner, the same way I usually prepare pork chops.
Working ahead that day, I decided to rinse and season the steaks right after lunch. I opened the package of steaks, took one look at the vast network of connective tissue and thought, "Oh, gosh, I can't broil these."
So, I pulled out my trusty cookbook and tried to figure out how in the heck pork shoulder steaks are supposed to be cooked. My cookbook did a very nice job explaining what pork shoulder steaks were and said they are best when braised, but didn't include a recipe for braising them.
Where my cookbook failed me, the internet saved me. A search for braised pork shoulder steaks returned a handful of recipes. None of them looked very appealing, but they at least gave me an idea of how to attempt braising and some guidelines for cooking times.
I rubbed the steaks with a seasoning blend, browned them briefly in butter, placed them in a roasting pan with a little vegetable broth, put the pan in the oven and sent out a plea for help to the cooking gods. If all went well, the braised steaks would be ready by supper time.
But as dinnertime drew near, I started to worry about Dan. I had no idea how these steaks would turn out and I wasn't in the mood to deal with my picky eater.
As we sat down to eat, Dan asked, "What are we having for supper, Mom?"
"You're having chicken nuggets and we're having pork," I told him as I served the meal.
The braised pork shoulder steaks turned out to be one of the best dishes I've ever prepared. Moist, tender, and savory, the pork literally melted in your mouth.
As we finished eating, I offered Dan a bite. Surprisingly, he accepted it and responded, "This is the best meat ever."
His review was music to my ears - both because I already liked the make-ahead flexibility braising offered and because we had several packages of shoulder steaks yet to consume.
I braised another package of shoulder steaks last Friday. I used almost the same method as I did with the first package; the only change was a different seasoning rub. The rub, which contained several herbs and turmeric, resulted in steaks equally as good as the first batch. However, the turmeric turned the braising broth neon yellow and the herbs left little bits of green on the meat, both of which were unacceptable to Dan. He wouldn't even willingly try one bite.
With a sigh, I reminded Dan of our two-bites rule and added that if he wanted to go over to the neighbor's to play, he had to eat all of the meat (which was, by no means, a large portion anyway).
Following further explanation of the terms and attempted negotiation by him, Dan finally started to eat the pork because he really wanted to go to the neighbor's house.
At least, I thought Dan was eating. After all, the food was disappearing from his plate. I was paying more attention to feeding Daphne, so it was Glen who noticed that we were being deceived.
Right after I finished praising Dan for eating so well, Glen said, "Check his pockets."
In disbelief, I turned to Dan, who's head was now hanging like a prisoner on trial. "What's in your pockets," I asked, still baffled.
Dan stood up and retrieved four pieces of pork and two cooked carrots from the front pocket of his jeans, all of which were now covered with pocket lint.
Glen was laughing. I was trying not to laugh; I was trying to be mad. If I had tried to pull something like that as a kid, I would have had to eat every bite of that lint-covered food.
I compromised with Dan and he agreed to eat two extra helpings of vegetables in exchange for not eating the pork.
Glen told me later that he was watching as Dan held the food up to his mouth like he was going to eat it and then slyly slid his hand down to his pocket to deposit the food.
I said it was a good thing we didn't have a house dog, or there wouldn't have been any proof of the deception.
Plus, those braised pork shoulder steaks are way too good to feed to a dog.
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