Hungry for something meaty and satisfying? A delicious pork chop or pork steak could be just the ticket. But which one will you choose –and is there a difference? While they both come from pigs, there are several differences between a pork steak vs. a pork chop.
Pork steaks and pork chops are two different cuts of pork. The pork steak comes from the pork shoulder or pork butt. Pork chops are sliced from the loin area. The different areas of the carcass where these cuts come from change their texture, flavor, and tenderness.
Let’s look at some of the differences between pork steaks and pork chops.
What Is A Pork Steak?
Pork steaks are cuts of meat that come from the shoulder of a pig. The shoulder – also known as a Boston butt – is usually cut into roasts or used for pulled pork. But this cut is very large when left whole! When sliced into grillable-sized pieces, it becomes a pork steak.
Pork steaks are typically cut into larger sizes than pork chops. They may be 1 ½ to 2” thick, and weigh up to a pound a piece.
The pork shoulder is marbled with lots of fat and connective tissue. So pork steaks need to be cooked for a long time in order to render some of the fat out, distribute the juices throughout the meat, and break down the tough tissue. Slow cooking will get the most flavor out of the meat and make the steak more tender.
What Is A Pork Chop?
A pork chop is a slice of the pork loin. The loin runs along the back of the pig and is one of the most tender areas, since it’s not a muscle that gets a lot of daily exercise. The loin has a fat cap rather than fat marbling. The fat cap may be removed, giving you a very lean cut of meat.
The pork chop doesn’t need to be slow-cooked to become tender. In fact, the longer you cook a pork chop, the tougher it gets! It just needs to be cooked to a safe temperature of at least 145°F before you can enjoy it. It has a mild and juicy flavor – if it’s not overdone.
Butchers often cut pork chops to the customer’s preference so you can choose how thick you want each chop to be – typically somewhere between ¾” and 1 ½”. It’s typically available as bone-in or boneless
5 Differences Between Pork Steaks And Pork Chops
At first glance, you might not think there could be that much difference between two cuts of meat from the same animal. But there are actually several things that make them different from each other.
The price of meat can differ based on each store and your location, but in general, you will find pork steaks for a much more affordable price than pork chops.
The cost is determined by the amount of meat on the cut. The area around the shoulder where the pork steak comes from yields a lot more meat than the area around the groin where the pork chops come from.
Butchers can get more pork steaks from one animal, which makes them cheaper to cut and produce. Pork steaks are also fattier and tougher, so the demand for them is lower.
Pork steaks come from a frequently-worked muscle, which makes them tough with short cooking methods. But they become delectably pull-apart soft with slow cooking! You can, of course, use baking soda or a meat tenderizer to soften pork steaks.
Pork chops come from the loin area, which is one of the leanest areas on a pig. This lack of fat can make them tough if overcooked, but they are very tender with a quick sear.
Pork is known as a super fatty meat, but if you get the right cut, it can be a lean and healthy option. Fat content depends on the section of the pig that it’s taken from.
Pork chops are typically leaner cuts of meat, which means they are lower in calories and saturated fats, and higher in protein per pound.
Pork steaks have more fat marbled into them – but they are full of collagen and beneficial minerals.
The pork steak is simply a pork shoulder (or Boston butt) that has been cut down to make steaks. It usually includes a section of the shoulder blade bone.
Pork chops are cut sections of a bone-in pork loin. It can be cut into different thicknesses, the fat can be left on or trimmed off, and the bone may be left in or left out. The size of the pork chops you get depends on the size of the loin and how it was trimmed off the animal.
You can prepare pork steaks similarly to beef steaks, or you can slow cook them. For the first option, just season them, and then sear and either bake or grill them to perfection. For the second, stew them in barbecue sauce or let them sizzle for awhile on the smoker for pull-apart goodness. You can chop pork steaks into stew meat as well.
Pork chops are flexible. You can coat them in panko and pan-fry them for a quick dinner. You can braise them in sauce for a crock pot dinner. Or they can be ground up, cubed, or chopped and quickly cooked to be added to soups, salads, casseroles, omelets, and even beans.
Tips For Cooking Pork Steaks
You may need to try some different cooking methods to find what works best for your preferences, but here are some general cooking tips that can help you get a delicious pork steak that is tender and packed with flavor.
Use Premium Cooking Oil
Pork steak can be tough if you do not cook it long enough. Longer periods of cooking mean a good oil that can maintain a consistent temperature and prevent the pork steak from sticking to the grill or pan.
For best results, marinate the pork steak for 24 hours in olive oil, salt, and acid like vinegar. Not only will this make the pork steak tender, but it will also make it more flavorful and help other seasonings and rubs stick to it.
Cook Low And Slow
The key to a tender pork steak is to cook it low and slow. Turn your grill or stove on medium or low-medium heat and allow the pork steak to cook until it becomes tender.
This usually takes around 15 to 17 minutes, depending on the steak’s thickness. You can also stew it or braise it in sauce, like a pork shoulder.
Use A Tenderizer
If you are worried that you won’t achieve the level of tenderness you want with your pork steaks, take some time to tenderize it before you cook it.
You find tenderizing tools and seasonings that help break down the muscle and tough parts of the pork steak so it will be tender when it cooks.
Tips For Cooking Pork Chops
Pork chops are very versatile. You can cube them and use them in casseroles or stir-fries. If you just want to enjoy this cut whole, there are plenty of ways to make it juicy and tender. Here are some tips to keep in mind.
Use A Marinade
Pork chops tend to have a more mild flavor compared to other cuts of pork so you may want to add some new flavors to the chop by letting it sit in a marinade overnight.
You can make your own or find different options online and in a grocery store. The marinade will prevent moisture loss in the pork chop and help make it tender and juicy.
Sear Before Cooking
You don’t want to lose any of the pork chops’ flavorful juices when you cook it, so searing the outside will help keep them in.
Searing meat creates a crust or barrier that helps hold in moisture. You can cook your pork chop to your liking and won’t have to worry about the juices cooking out of it.
Buy The Bone-In Option
Bones release fat and flavor when they are cooked – so choosing to buy pork chops that have the bones in them will make them more flavorful. You may need to cook bone-in pork chops longer than the boneless option, but they are well worth the wait and will be tender and full of flavor.
Which Is Better: Pork Chops Or Pork Steaks?
The cut of meat you choose really depends on your personal preference and the type of meal you are planning. If you have time to cook a dish low and slow, pork steaks work great. But if you need a leaner cut that you can quickly pan fry, you’ll get better results with a pork chop.
If you want to chop pork up to use in a stew, stir fry, or casserole, either cut can work. But because of the connective tissue in a pork steak, you’ll need to slow cook it or tenderize it chemically or mechanically to get a tender result.
Pork chops tend to be more mild while pork steaks have a meatier and stronger flavor. Both are delicious options as long as you take the time to prepare them properly and serve them correctly.
Both pork steaks and pork chops are delicious cuts of meat and can easily be prepared to your liking. Although they are both slices of pork that are roughly 1” thick, there are actually several differences in the cuts that determine the flavor, how long they should be cooked, and the best cooking or serving method for each cut.