Lunchbreak: Caramelized midwest pork steaks, prepared by 17th Street Barbecue’s Amy and Mike Mills and details about the Windy City Smokeout

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Amy and Mike Mills

17th Street Barbecue
32 N. 17th Street
(618) 684-3722

2700 17th Street
(618) 998-1114

Windy City Smokeout
July 14-16
560 W. Grand Avenue

For more information:

To purchase a copy of the book:

Praise the Lard: Recipes and Revelations from a Legendary Life in Barbecue

Caramelized Midwest Pork Steaks
4-6 servings

4 to 6 bone-in pork steaks (about 1 pound each)
Pure Magic dry rub or your choice
Apple City Barbecue Sauce, or your choice, warm
1 to 3 pounds good quality lump charcoal
1 small (8-inch) piece of apple wood or 2 store bought chunks
String mop (An old-fashioned string mop captures the most sauce and distributes it evenly over the meat.)

Lightly sprinkle the pork steaks with dry rub on both sides. Set the steaks on a baking sheet, cover them with plastic wrap, and refrigerate until you’re ready to put them on the cooker. Note: You can dust the steaks with dry rub up to 4 hours prior to cooking, but if the steaks sit any longer than that, the salt in the rub will begin to pull moisture from the meat. Set up the cooker for indirect-heat smoking: Open the top and bottom vents. Load a charcoal chimney one-quarter full of charcoal and light it. When the coals in the chimney are glowing, dump them on one side of the cooker. Set the wood on top of the coals, replace the grate, and put the steaks over the side with no coals (the indirect cooking area). Close the lid. Don’t open the cooker for 15 minutes, but keep a close eye on the temperature; when it reaches 200 degrees, which might happen very quickly, close the vents about halfway so that less air comes in to feed the fire and the heat in the cooker rises slowly. Let the temperature climb to between 225 and 250 degrees. Maintain your target temperature; if at any point it climbs above your target, close the top and bottom vents further so that even less air comes in to feed the fire. After 15 minutes, use an instant-read thermometer to check the internal temperature of the meat: Insert the probe into the center of one of the steaks, not near the bone. You are looking for a slow and steady climb to between 160° and 165°. Do not flip the steaks over at all during the smoking stage. After you check the meat temperature, reload the chimney halfway with charcoal and light it. You’ll soon need these additional hot coals to sear the steaks at the finishing stage, after they’re done smoking. Check the internal temperature of the meat every 10 minutes or so. When the steaks are between 160° and 165°, pull them off the cooker and set them aside on a baking sheet. Working quickly, add the hot coals, spreading them out all over the bottom of the cooker. Lightly mop the tops of the steaks with the barbecue sauce, sprinkle on a light layer of dry rub, and put the steaks back on the cooker, sauce side down, directly over the hot coals. Cook the steaks for 5 to 8 minutes, mopping with the sauce and flipping them several times to caramelize all over. If there are spots of fat that are dark and blackened, sauce them and caramelize them again. When the steaks are sizzling around the bone and beautifully glazed on both sides and around the edges, they’re done. The internal temperature should be between 170 and 175 degrees.

*To finish them on a cast iron grill pan on the stove top - put pork steaks in a cast iron grill pan on the stove, continue to apply spice rub and bbq sauce to cooked ribs.  Continue to sear each side about 3 minutes each on medium heat.

Pure Magic Dry Rub
Makes 2 1/4 cups

1/2 cup sweet Hungarian paprika
1/4 cup kosher salt
1/4 cup sugar
1/4 cup granulated garlic
1/4 cup chili powder
1/4 cup ground cumin
1 Tablespoon dry mustard
1 Tablespoon coarsely ground black pepper
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper

Mix all the ingredients. Using a spice mill or coffee grinder, blend 1/4 cup at a time to a powder-like consistency so that all of the spice particles are relatively the same size. Store in a tightly covered container in a cool, dark place. The rub keeps for about 6 months, or until the color or pungent aroma fades.
Variation: To make this rub a little spicier, increase the mustard and black pepper to 2 tablespoons each.

Apple City Barbecue Sauce

3/4 cup ketchup (made with cane sugar, such as Red Gold or Hunt’s)
2/3 cup rice vinegar
1 1/2 cups apple cider
1/4 cup apple cider vinegar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons prepared yellow mustard
1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
1/8 teaspoon ground white pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/3 cup bacon bits (real, not imitation), ground in a spice mill
1/3 cup grated peeled apple
1/3 cup grated onion
2 teaspoons grated green pepper

Combine the ketchup, rice vinegar, apple juice, cider vinegar, brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, mustard, granulated garlic, white pepper, cayenne, and bacon bits in a large saucepan. Bring to a boil, stir in the apple, onion, and green pepper, then lower the heat. Simmer the sauce, stirring often, for 10 to 15 minutes, until it thickens slightly. Decant into a mason jar, cover, and refrigerate; the sauce will keep for at least a month. Warm or bring to room temperature before serving.
Variation: To make this sauce a little hotter, add more cayenne pepper to taste, another 1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon. Be careful; a little goes a long way.

The Salty Pig
Rosemary Salt
1 oz sugar syrup
2 grilled grapefruits
4 oz Vodka
rosemary sprigs

Rosemary Salt

2 Tbs fresh rosemary leaves, stripped from the stem
2 Tbs kosher salt
3 Tbs coarse sea salt
citrus wedge or grapefruit juice

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees, with a rack in the center. Pulse the rosemary in a mini food processor or blender until coarsely chopped. Add the kosher and sea salts and pulse a few more times until chopped and blended. The mixture will be slightly damp. Spread on a baking sheet and bake, watching carefully so it doesn’t burn, for 8-10 minutes, just until dry and fragrant but not browned. Alternatively, cook, stirring, in a small skillet over medium-low heat, just until dry and fragrant, again taking care not to burn. Set aside to cool. Stored in a covered glass jar.

Sugar Syrup:
Combine white sugar or demerara sugar and 1 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly for a few minutes, until the sugar is dissolved. Set aside to cool. Decant into a covered glass jar or bottle and store in the refrigerator.

To Make The Cocktail:
Spread the rosemary salt in a saucer. Rim the outer edge of two glasses with a piece of citrus or grapefruit juice and twist the rim in the rosemary salt to coat. Set aside to dry. Cut the grapefruits in half and grill, cut side down, over medium coals for 5-9 minutes, until slightly charred but not burned. Alternatively, char the whole grapefruits all over in a cast-iron skillet over medium heat. Be careful not to overheat or the grapefruit may burst. Let the grapefruits cool until you can handle them. Squeeze the juice into a measuring cup (you should have about ½ cup) and set aside to cool. Combine the grapefruit juice, 1 ounce of the sugar syrup, and the vodka in a shaker. Add ice and shake. Double-strain into the glasses. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

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