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Jun 30, 2007 06:11 AM

Making Pulled Pork Today - Need Advice

HI All,

I have a 6 lb pork butt in the oven today (starting at 9am) and it will be cooking for the next 10-12 hours. Obviously I will be serving this tomorrow, but the question is - should I keep the hunk of meat whole in the fridge until tomorrow and "pull" the meat tomorrow or "pull" it tonight and either put it in sauce or leave dry?

Anybody have any suggestions?
Thanks and have a great day.

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  1. its always easier to pull meat (whether it be pulled pork, taking turkey off the bone, whatever) when it's warm. if you're going to do it tomorrow you'll need to re-heat the whole i over again and then pull it, which is more time-consuming than if you were to pull it today and let it sit in the sauce. it should be extra tasty is it stews in the sauce tonight.


    1 Reply
    1. re: kimberlya

      The meat's connective tissues set upon cooling. I cooked a roast, ONCE, expecting to be able to "pull" it cold. NO WAY! You'll be glad you took the time to do it this evening. It doesn't take long.
      My kids, as teens, fell in love with pulled meat sandwiches. I'd get soft kaisers, make up the pulled pork, mixed with it's sauce, cooled and made into "patties", put in the kaisers, and freeze them. All the kids had to do was take them out of the freezer and heat in the M/W. This was perfect for the times when everyone in the family was going different directions at once.

      Enjoy your pork, and have a good holiday!

    2. As already pointed out, definitely pull it today. I'd recommend going out and getting a pair of Orca gloves ( can dip your hands in boiling water with no discomfort) and start pulling as soon as you get it out of the smoker. You are smoking it, I assume?

      3 Replies
      1. re: GroovinGourmet

        Unfortunately, I am not smoking it. I put a paprika/brown sugar based rub on it last night and have it in the oven today. I know the oven isnt going to give me the smoky flavor, but I am going for ease and constant temp without a fuss. I did use smoked salts and smoked paprika - that should give me the classic smoke flavor right??? HAHA just kidding.

        My main reason for asking whether or not I should pull tonight was that I thought the meat might dry out by tomorrow if I were to do so. But if I had to reheat that big hunk of meat tomorrow that might dry it out even more. I think I'll just do it tonight and put some sauce on it.

        Thanks for all the suggestions

        1. re: nielubow

          At the risk of being skewered by purists, I find a drop or two of liquid smoke imparts a pretty nice smoky flavor when I make cheater's Kalua pig in the oven and then pull it.

          1. re: nielubow

            I did oven roasted pulled pork a couple of weeks ago (spice rub, roasted a 2 lb shoulder roast at about 200 overnight), then pulled it before it went cold and doused it with a vinegary bbq drizzle. It stayed moist for a week while we ate it.

        2. In the oven, have you got it tightly covered so as to retain the juices?
          If so, when it's done, pour off the juices and then separate the fat from the 'stock'. The stock will be the start of the fluids to keep the pulled pork moist.

          1. In my experience you want to pull the meat, and add some of your sauce of choice, then pack it up and refrigerate. You can then reheat with the sauce keeping the meat moist. Think about adding just a little rub tomorrow after the reheat... helps bring back those flavors.

            1. Excuse my ignorance, but what does "pulled" mean?

              21 Replies
              1. re: coombe

                When most muscle meat are cooked for a long period of time, they separate into individual strands. When a pot roast is cooked, you cut it across the grain of the meat; but if it's been cooked a long time, the slices across the grain will fall apart.
                This is the texture that pulled meat aims for; when fingers or forks can pull it apart. And it is so tender.
                Not a fast cook technique at all, but a way to make cheaper cuts of meat delectable.

                1. re: shallots

                  If you're blessed to have a Crockpot you could sit the entire shoulder[uncut]in the bowl,put the setting on low and let her ride all night long.Take two large forks in the morning and start shredding.This is my mom's technique and it's golden.

                  1. re: scrumptiouschef

                    That's how I make it, with a slow cooker. I put a couple of layers of thinly sliced onions in the bottom of the pan with some whole cloves, set the meat on top, and then add a little water. I remove the fat cap after eight or nine hours, give it to the neighborhood stray cats, and shred the meat up and put it back in the pot for an hour with a generous amount of homemade sauce (leaving the onions, draining the cooking liquid) Some ham stock would also be great in this. (The meat should be falling apart, and you will have to remove it in chunks. I haven't figured out a way to get it out in one piece.)

                    But we just got a grill with a smoker, so the next experiment with pork shoulder will involve smoking. I know I could search online, but I tend to trust you guys, so my question is how do you keep the grill hot for a long time with natural briquettes? We have one of those chimney things that you can start the briquettes in separately; it just seems like it would be a pain to keep adding more of them throughout the day or night. Perhaps it would work to smoke the shoulder for a couple of hours and then finish in the slow cooker, or vice versa? I'm thinking you'd bank the coals on one side of the grill and place the shoulder on the other side. It's the kind of grill that looks like a barrel on its side with a wood chip chamber on one side. It also has a temperature gauge on the lid, but I don't know how accurate this will turn out to be.

                    1. re: diva360

                      hey diva. what you're describing sounds like an offset smoker: cooking chamber (barrel) with not a wood chip chamber but a fire box on one side. Is this right? you would make a wood/charcoal fire in the box, and the heat/smoke travels into the cooking chamber. those can take a lot of tending. I use Weber kettles and I create a "rope" of charcoal, laid like dominoes that have fallen over, in a ring, touching, around the outer edge of the kettle. Light one side and it burns slowly, like a fuse, to give me a 5-hr burn without tending.

                      1. re: woodburner

                        wow, woodburner, you've earned the Genius Award for today! I'm doing your "rope of charcoal, laid like dominoes" and I am absolutely delighted. For the first time, I am able to control the temperature in my old Weber kettle - this works like a charm. My dry-rubbed rib slabs cooked slowly for almost three hours to internal temperature of 160°, and I have time to finish two more racks before midnight. I've been adding my soaked hickory chips slowly as I go.
                        - I just had to have a taste...moist, with a nice pink smoke ring - and the dry-rub flavors are subtle, not overpowering. I might just skip the bbq sauce tomorrow, or, offer it in a squeeze bottle at the table.
                        - Thank you, thank you! :^)

                        1. re: Cynsa

                          That technique is the best thing since formed briquettes!! I only modified what I learned as the Minion Method for laying a load of unstarted charcoal on the bottom of a Weber Smoky Mountain pan, then adding lit coals on the top... same result: a very slow burn at low temp. Glad you got a good result.

                      2. re: diva360

                        diva,the part you describe as a pain is actually a pleasure...the slow tending of the fire,coaxing the perfect amount of heat,smoke and fire into the flesh...taming a 19lb brisket from a cold mass of meat into a luxuriously charred-fatty-salty plate of deliciousness....what could be better?So,build a medium size fire of hardwood,lump charcoal[I use oak but you can head on over to the lump charcoal database on the net and figure out which one you prefer]when it glows smother it with thoroughly soaked chunks of hardwood[Hickory for instance]let it smolder[smoke]til it's extinguished itself[should be about 6 hours]build another fire in your chimney thing and repeat process.

                        1. re: scrumptiouschef

                          With two exceptions, I couldn't agree more...I don't soak my wood (creates too much steam), and there's gotta be a BEER or three in there somewhere!

                          1. re: ricepad

                            I guess I was confused about how they worked. I thought you would have to keep moving the meat and lifting the hot grate to keep fresh coals under it. The BF has done most of the grilling, but I'd like to learn to use the new contraption.

                            1. re: diva360

                              Diva: Not sure what kind of grill/smoker you have... can you describe the physical structure further... make and model... is it a rectangular grill with a height-adjustable coal tray so you can grill up close and smoke with the heat moved down low? Are there two different chambers?

                              1. re: woodburner

                                Hi woodburner,

                                Thanks for your help in advance. There is the separate firebox and then the main cooking chamber. (I'm just learning what to call all these things).

                                I started another post about this topic because it seemed like a reasonable all-around question to post in the home cooking boards:


                                This particular grill is called a professional "Chargriller." The firebox is set on the side lower than the regular cooking chamber, probably to allow for the fact that heat rises. There is a grate in the firebox that would allow you to lower or raise the coals. In addition, in the barrel part of the smoker, you can also raise or lower the grate that holds the coals should you be using coals in that portion. I would think you would use this part to quickly grill things like burgers, steaks, fish, or vegetables, while saving the firebox/smoker to cook things like ribs, brisket, or pork shoulder low-and-slow. So what I'm thinking is that you can use this contraption much as you would a classic Weber kettle grill as well as a slow-smoker, depending on where you build/stoke the fire. There's also a drip pan--I don't know if it would be best to fill this with aromatic liquids or to wait for the drippings to come off the meat.

                                I don't think the BF bought a really high-quality metal version of this appliance since it cost less than 200, but we'll see what happens. He likes playing with fire in the Texas heat so I'm hoping we'll have some delicious results. I'm just hoping we can have something that works like a grill on weeknights (burgers, fish, veggies, etc.), and a slow smoker on the weekends.

                                1. re: diva360

                                  Sounds like you have a unit that allows just that: high heat grilling and low and slow BBQ. You have some choices when it comes to BBQ. If there is a "hole" connecting the small firebox to the main chamber (there must be), then you can make a real wood (or lump/natural hardwood charcoal) fire in there, and the heat and smoke will migrate to the cooking chamber, to BBQ those big cuts. That will take a lot of fuel, over quite a few hours of Qing. Other options include making a small wood/coal fire on one side of the cooking chamber, with the meat on the other. Either way, you'll need to tend that fire, and the vents, to maintain a nice 225-250 chamber temp.

                                  1. re: woodburner

                                    Thanks Woodburner! We did chicken and a variety of vegetables today with natural hardwood charcoal as the fuel in both the cooking chamber and the firebox. We put hickory chunks in with the natural coals in the firebox, and the chicken was very good. The smoke aroma made neighbors come out of their houses to see what we were cooking up--this grilling was done using the high heat method you mentioned above. I made a bunch of cold side dishes and baked beans to go with the chicken, and I practically had to roll my guests out of the house at the end of the night. I thought cooking chicken might be a good way to ease us away from the Weber and toward the more complicated smoker.

                                    Next I would like to try low-and-slow pork shoulder, because I think it will be forgiving while I practice maintaining the 225-250 temp. Then I will try an actual slow smoked chicken to get more experience before venturing on to the trickier-sounding ribs and brisket.

                                    I've been reading about creosote build-up resulting in bitter-tasting meats on the internet, so I'm going to go easy on the wood chunks until I learn how to control the smoke and the ventilation system on the smoker. The main problem I foresee is fights with Mr. Diva because he tends to be one of those "me Tarzan--you Jane" types of guys when it comes to meat cooked over fire, though otherwise he is perfectly lovely.

                                    The other thing we do have that may help is one of those chimneys that you can build a fire in separately. I'm thinking this tool may help us maintain a constant temperature in our smoker because we can add hot fuel to the fire instead of cold.

                                    1. re: diva360

                                      Congrats, Diva! I'm not a big fan of the offset smoker (got rid of mine a couple years ago) cause they burn a lot of fuel, IMHO. I don't think the creosote thing should be a problem if you maintain decent air flow. Shoulder (or just butt portion) is easy, since that meat will just cook up and be great when it hits 190-200 internal. Can't screw it up. Fire in the fire side, and butts in the chamber. Hit it with a nice rub before it goes on:
                                      2 tbs paprika
                                      1 tbs each brown sugar, chili powder, cumin, granulated sugar
                                      2 tsp kosher salt
                                      1.5 tsp black pepper
                                      pinch cayenne
                                      Rubs 2 butts

                                      Then pull it apart and hit it with a nice western N. Carolina-style sauce (my version, not full authentic, so apologies to NCers):
                                      1 1/2 cups cider vinegar
                                      1/2 cup brown sugar
                                      1 tablespoons kosher salt
                                      1 tablespoons red pepper (crushed)
                                      2 1/2 cps water
                                      3/4 cup ketchup
                                      bring to simmer to combine
                                      One batch per tray (2 butts)
                                      You can but a cryo pack of two nice butts at Sam's or Costco... about 12 lbs total. Feeds a crowd.
                                      Don't think you need to feed already lit lump into you fire... if you've got a nice lump fire going, you can just add new lump to it every so often.

                                      On the slow smoked chicken, thing I've found is that low temp chicken has a rubbery skin, which I do not like. I smoke chicks at higher heat, 300+, which gives a crispier skin.

                                      Try baby back ribs... easier to succeed, I find. Then go for the brisket. I have rubs and sauces if you want...

                                      1. re: woodburner

                                        PS: Reserve a little of that rub, then once you've pulled it, sprinkle it on the finished product... brightens up the flavor

                                        1. re: woodburner

                                          Here's another question for you, woodburner. I think we are going to do a smallish pork shoulder on Sunday. I'm going to look for a four-pounder, as we are only going to be feeding four people, two big guy 'hounds, and two small woman 'hounds who combined will only eat as much as one of the big 'hounds. Where would you advise placing the shoulder in the cooking chamber? I'm thinking if we placed it near the firebox, it might be too hot. We will turn and rotate it while smoking it. When Mr. Diva did all those chicken pieces, he rotated them around the cooking surface and it worked out fine. But with the roast, we won't have nearly as much of the surface space occupied except for at the end, when I plan on throwing some more vegetable and fruit skewers on.

                                          BTW, are you also in Texas? I think I saw a few of your posts in the Austin boards.

                                          And thanks for the rub and sauce suggestions. The sauce is pretty similar to the one I make when I do shoulder in the slow cooker. I know, not real 'cue, but still good when you want to come home to a delicious smelling house and a good meal without a lot of fuss.

                                          1. re: diva360

                                            couple thoughts: remember that the whole shoulder is both the butt end and the picnic, and will weight a good 12-16 lbs. each piece alone will weigh about 6. Finding a 4-lb butt is not likely... but you can find 4-lb picnics since they get trimmed with a bit more variation. Remember that you want the shoulder picnic... the rear picnic will cook up like a ham (cause it is a ham!!!!)

                                            Another reason I love smoking butts on the Weber kettle... it takes a lot less fuel for the exact same result. Putting 4 or 6 lbs in that big barrel and burning half a cord of wood seems like a shame... but I would place it roughly in the middle, and turn occasionally like you said. If you keep the overall chamber temp to 225-275, it will cook fine anywhere... just faster by the firebox.

                                            If you're just doing that one piece, you could take the opportunity to "map out" your smoker... that is, take a few temp probes and place them at different sites around the chamber, and take comparative readings, to determine where the hot and cold spot are. Good to know. You could push a probe through a potato to place it just above the grill, but not touching. You could use one probe and move it around from time to time. You'll find hot and cold spots beyond just the difference between near the fire and away from the fire.

                                            I'm not in TX, but I took a trip where I was more Chowpig than Chowhound... I did 27 BBQ places in 10 days (you do the math). Did write ups and took lots of pics, all posted here:


                                            I think Kreuz Market and Smitty's in Lockhart, and Cooper's in Llano, are my favorites. Let me know what you think.

                                            1. re: woodburner

                                              Haven't tried Cooper's as Lockhart is closer to the E. side of Austin. I like Kreuz and Smitty's the best, as well as Luling City Market in Luling. Maybe we'll use the Weber using your method of ringing the outside of the kettle with lump until we bbq more meat. Did I understand you correctly that you only light half the coals on one side of the ring, and that eventually the coals on the other side will ignite? Maybe with a couple of chunks of wood for smoke?

                                              1. re: diva360

                                                Coopers is different from many others in the area, in a couple of ways. They have big burn pits outside, where they bring the wood to coals. Then they move the coals -- by shovel -- over to one of several big long pits, but they shovel the coals under the length of the pit, under the food -- like the carolinas. Not just fire on one end of the pit. All the cooking is outside, and you pick your food off the pit and they weight it, etc. Go inside to pay and eat. You can see a bunch of pics at the site I posted above, if you go to the Texas Pictures area.

                                                I would definitely say try the Weber for a small butt. I use briquettes (Kingsford) for the "fuse burn," since it burns slower and cooler than the lump. You can also hand-place a nice ring of charcoal, like fallen dominoes, about 3/4 of the way around the fire grate. A run of two briquettes side by side, and a third row between them, on top. I light only about the first six or eight coals on one end of the "fuse," and after 10 min. you're ready to go. The fire will slowly burn around the ring. Use a couple of chunks of wood placed in the first third of the burn, for nice smoke. Leave top and bottom vents open. You will get a 5-6 hour burn. If it gets too hot, close down the top vent about half way for a while. You can then add coals at the end of the "burn run" til you are finished cooking. Adjust the position of the butt to keep it away from direct heat (shift left or right on the grill). Much less wood/coal than an offset running for 10 hours. Let us know how it works out.

                                                1. re: woodburner

                                                  Well, I thought I'd get back to woodburner and the rest of you who offered helpful suggestions a couple of weeks ago. We ended up doing a brisket, but I don't think we got it quite up to temperature because it wasn't tender enough. This procedure took two days, because Mr. Diva decided to start the fire at four in the afternoon and then go golfing. I told him it wouldn't stay hot enough if no one was around to add fuel--I had a commitment with a friend so I couldn't tend the fire. (I had tried to convince him to do the shoulder first, but our dinner plans changed and he saw brisket on sale at the store). I ended up getting home before him, and the temp had dropped to @ 150. I added more fuel to get the temp up, and managed to keep it pretty hot for several more hours. Mr. Diva decided to finish the brisket in the oven the next day when a couple of guests were coming over. The meat had a nice pink smoke ring and good flavor, but could have used an extra hour of cooking. I think that all the time the meat spent at a cool temperature affected our outcome.

                                                  Next time--probably next Sunday afternoon--I'm going to insist that we smoke some meat all in one sitting, and I'm going to insist on pulled pork. I'm the researcher in our couple, so I'm going to have to convince Mr. Diva based on what you guys have said that it's going to take longer to do than he might think. In any case, I've had better brisket, but I considered this a reasonably good first try on the smoker: the meat was tasty, just not as tender as I would have liked.

                                                  1. re: diva360

                                                    Thanks for the update, Diva! Sounds like Mr. D is a pain in the rump roast!! LOL

                                                    Were you tracking the internal temp on the brisket? you need to get up at 195-200 or so for some tenderness.

                                                    Good luck on the butts. Get it up to the same temp... start early in the am.