Pork is one of the most popular meats enjoyed in a variety of cuisines all over the world. It has different types of cuts and, depending on the part of the pig it comes from, it can differ in its taste, texture, and appearance.
Some of the most popular cuts include bacon, ham, pork belly, pork chops, and pork steaks. Although very different, it is common for people to get confused between the various cuts of pork, especially pork chops and pork steaks.
If you love cooking with pork and incorporating it into your recipes, you need to know the small and big differences to help you choose the best piece of meat.
So, what is the difference between pork chops and pork steaks? Pork chops come from the loin section of a hog and are usually lean with little intramuscular fat, whereas pork steaks come from the shoulder section and are succulent with a large amount of intramuscular fat.
Read on to find out more about pork chops and pork steaks and how they differ in their taste, texture, and uses!
What Are Pork Chops?
Pork chops are a delicious piece of pig meat that comes from the loin area of the animal, running from the hip to the shoulder.
There are several varieties of pork chops, such as ribs, loins, blades, and boneless chops, depending on where the meat is taken from.
Pork chops are lean and have barely any intramuscular fat, which is why they are considered to be on the drier side, and depending on which variety you are buying, the taste may vary considerably.
The most common way to cook pork chops is by pan-frying or grilling them over high heat until they have browned on each side, followed by cooking them on low heat for about 20 minutes before sprinkling them with some salt and pepper.
Cooking pork chops is slightly challenging and requires a bit of practice to get it right. Since they have a low-fat content, it is easy to overcook them, resulting in dried-out meat.
What Are Pork Steaks?
Pork steaks, also called Boston butt or Boston shoulder, are a cut of pork taken from the pig’s shoulder. Despite their name “Boston butt”, they don’t actually come from the hind leg but the part of the pig located above the shoulder blade.
It is a delicious cut of meat rich in intramuscular fat, which makes it moist, juicy, and extra flavorful. It is also easily recognizable by the intricate lines of fat all over the meat, giving it a marble-like look.
A popular choice for pulled pork sandwiches, pork steaks are usually sold boneless in large pieces to be used for slow cooking.
Preparing pork steaks is easy and they take less time to cook due to the absence of bones or skin. Also, due to their fat content, they remain soft and moist and do not turn dry when overcooked.
Difference Between Pork Chops And Pork Steaks
Being able to differentiate the various types of meats and understanding what makes them different is important to be able to choose the best one for your dish. Here are all the ways pork chops and pork steaks are different from one another!
Variety Of Cut
Although pork chops and pork steaks come from the same animal, they are sourced from different parts of the pig. As mentioned earlier, pork chops come from the loin area whereas pork steaks are taken from the pig’s shoulder.
It is very important to remember this difference because it not only defines the taste and texture of the meat but also the way it has to be cooked.
Nutrition And Flavor
Pork chops are a lean meat cut, which means they have less fat and calories as compared to pork steaks that are high in fat content.
Compared to the marbled and flavorful meat of pork steaks, pork chops and much milder and require seasonings and flavorful marinades to help add flavor to them.
Given the differences in their fat content, the nutritional content of these cuts is:
|Nutritional Value||Pork Chops||Pork Steaks|
Therefore, if you are looking for a healthier option, you may want to go with pork chops. But if you want something juicy, tender, and flavorful, pork steaks are your best choice.
Pork chops and pork steaks look different since they come from different parts of the pig. Pork steaks will have a marbled look due to the presence of intramuscular fat, whereas pork chops will look leaner with little or no fat.
Pork chops will also usually have a slightly darker shade than pork steaks due to the meat density, and in the case of rib chops, they will have a distinctive bone on one end.
When it comes to cooking, pork chops and pork steaks are prepared in very different ways due to their varying taste and texture.
Pork steaks are tender and juicy with a lot of fat and are perfect for pulled pork sandwiches, sausages, and other dishes that call for the pork meat to be fatty and succulent.
However, if you feel like grilling some pork meat, pork chops are a great way to go since they taste best this way.
You also need to keep in mind that in order to be safe for consumption, cooked pork meat needs to have an internal temperature of 145°F.
This, however, may lead to overly dried pork chops, which is why you need to be extra careful when cooking them.
In terms of how they are served, pork steaks are usually served as one piece while pork chops typically come in pairs, unless they are chopped up to make a stew or a similar dish.
Another difference between the two pork cuts is their costs. Pork steaks are generally cheaper than pork chops, mainly because there is less meat on the pig to produce pork chops, as compared to pork steaks that are easier to find.
Although the price will vary in different butcher shops, pork chops can be twice as expensive as pork steaks.
That being said, if you find pork chops to be too expensive, you can use pork steaks that are more flavorful and easier to work with.
Now that you know the difference between pork chops and pork steaks, here are a few additional questions we thought you might have:
Can you substitute pork chops with pork steaks?
As mentioned above, pork chops and pork steaks are two very different cuts that vary in terms of their flavor, texture, appearance, nutritional value, and cooking methods.
Keeping that in mind, it might not be the best idea to substitute one for the other.
How do you prevent pork chops from drying out?
Pork chops are notoriously difficult to cook since there is a small window between perfectly done and overcooked, and it takes a lot of skill and practice to master this particular cut of pork.
There are, however, certain techniques that you can follow to prevent them from drying out.
Working with bone-in pork chops makes a world of a difference since the bone conducts heat and prevents the meat from overcooking, and the added fat gives it some moisture and a nice flavor.
Using a simple marinade with a combination of acid (vinegar or lemon juice), salt, oil, and your preferred aromatics not only breaks down the proteins but also seasons them from the inside out.
Making sure to bring the meat to room temperature before cooking ensures that it cooks evenly and retains maximum moisture.
Also, if you want a juicy chop, start cooking it on the stove and then transfer it to the oven. You may add a splash of chicken stock to prevent it from drying out.
Lastly, using a meat thermometer is a great way to make sure the pork chops are done (we’d recommend this one).
Although 145°F is the recommended internal temperature, it is best to take them out of the oven between 140-145°F so that they can continue cooking while resting and reach the desired temperature.
What is the difference between ham and bacon?
Similar to pork chops and pork steaks, ham and bacon also come from different parts of the pig and differ in terms of how they are prepared, cured, packed, and used in the end.
Ham comes in various cuts and sizes and is preserved using a process called curing, which may or may not include smoking.
Some common uses include ham hash, cubed ham, cold cut sandwiches, sliders, breakfast casseroles, and pasta dishes.
Bacon, on the other hand, although also cured, can come from various parts of the pig, the most common being the back and belly.
It comes in strips with varying thickness and can be smoked and cured with different flavors. Some common uses include breakfast burritos, sandwiches, pizza toppings, salads, and of course a delicious side for eggs.
Here’s a great video on how to make some delicious barbecue pork chops from the folks over at Babish Culinary Universe!