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Pulled Pork - Refrigerate or Freeze?

I'm having my husband's co-workers and their spouses over for a casual dinner Saturday evening. Since I have a very busy week at work, I decided to cook my pulled pork in advance.

I purchased my pork Sunday afternoon, applied a spice rub Sunday evening, roasted my pork in a 500 degree oven Tuesday night to create some "crust," and finished cooking it in my crockpot with dark ale, garlic and a couple of bay leaves. My pork is now pulled and in a plastic container in my fridge. Once the cooking liquid cools to room temp, I'll refrigerate it, separate the fat, then use the remaining liquid to make my BBQ sauce.

I've never made pulled pork more than a day or so prior to serving. Should I freeze my meat on Wednesday, then defrost in the fridge prior to serving on Saturday or will it be okay in my fridge until Saturday evening? Should I store my meat dry or should I keep it in some cooking liquid?

Any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. I'm planning to warm my pork in my crockpot prior to serving Saturday evening. I've also got an enameled dutch oven I could use if you think that would work better than the crockpot for warming.

Thanks in advance for your help!

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  1. I would just put it in the fridge as is. Perhaps put some plastic wrap right on top of it. On the day of the meal, if it seems dry, dump some beer in there with it to help steam it.

    DT

    3 Replies
    1. re: Davwud

      DT, thanks so much for your input. Anyone else have experience cooking pulled pork this far in advance? Will it really be okay in the fridge until Saturday evening???

      1. re: cvhound

        If it cooled down quickly (I don't know how much you made or how you refrigerated it), WED-THU-FRI then re-heat on SAT will be fine.
        I'd suggest leave it be, then reheat with your sauce, so make plenty of sauce so you wont have a dry finished product.
        I've done pulled pork on Tuesdays, chilled, and served Wed to Sun no problems.
        I'd even suggest freezing your leftovers (in sauce) for a quick meal later on.

        1. re: porker

          Thanks for the quick reply, Porker and Sarah! I feel much better about keeping my pork in the fridge until Saturday. My husband works in law enforcement and I was having nightmares about accidentally serving "bad" pork to so many of his coworkers.

          I cooked 8 lbs of trimmed pork, pulled it after removing it from the crock pot, and put it in the fridge overnight while the meat was still a bit warm. Normally, I would have let the pork come to room temperature before putting it in the fridge, but it was well after midnight when it finished cooking and I didn't want to leave it out overnight.

          Now, just have to worry about making my coleslaw, baked beans and dessert. Thanks again!

    2. I have cooked pork well in advance and had no problems just refrigerating. I was not as happy with the frozen product - have done it both ways.

      1. As with other responses, I agree it should be fine if refrigerated. My only addition (and probably goes without saying but will anyway just for good measure) is to make sure you bring it back up to at least 160 degrees before serving. Regarding freezing, I just pulled out a chunk of pork out of the freezer on Saturday that I had used the other half for pulled pork, thawed it slowly in the microwave, shredded it and used it in a mexican dish. It worked great.

        2 Replies
        1. re: jodymaryk

          Yes, I agree, not essential to freeze in the circumstances you have outlined, but freezing does work just fine. I live in one part of the country and my husband in another for 9 months of the year. I cook pulled pork (among other things) for him when I visit, cool enough to "pull' and then pack into individual containers for his freezer.

          While he is mostly very independent in the kitchen and happy to cook for himself, on days when he feels a little low or just plain lazy, he warms up one of these, grabs himself a big ol' soft bun and enjoys a bit of 'togetherness on a plate'.

          1. re: LJS

            That's so sweet! Must be hard being apart so much of the year.

        2. Just wanted to report back and thank everyone for their helpful comments/tips on whether I should freeze or refrigerate my meat. My pork that I seasoned on Sunday, cooked on Tuesday and served on Saturday was a great success!

          On the advice of a poster, I refrigerated the pulled pork in a plastic container and covered the meat with plastic wrap before burping the lid. Probably not necessary, but thought it couldn't hurt. I stored the defatted cooking liquid in a separate glass container.

          I removed the meat and cooking liquid from the fridge Saturday morning, dumped everything into my crockpot, and let the meat and cooking liquid come to room temperature. About 4 hours before our guest arrived, I started my crockpot on low and covered my meat with BBQ sauce. The cooking liquid and BBQ sauce did a great job of keeping my meat moist during warming.

          I served the BBQ pulled pork on mini challah buns with homemade coleslaw and baked beans. Appetizers consisted of a pickled relish tray, potato chips with onion dip, carrots with ranch dip, deviled eggs and an assorted cheese tray with crackers. Dessert was chocolate fondue with chocolate rum cake, bananas and almond brittle.

          Thanks again to everyone who responded to my post!

          6 Replies
          1. re: cvhound

            I am working on a similar menu for the 6th. Where did you get the mini Challah rolls? I think I want a roll the size of a Krystal (sourthern) or White Castle (northern). Also, I am drawing a blank on desserts to serve at this end of summer picnic supper. pulled pork, fried chicken, slaw, potato salad, slice tomatos and ..... if I can find help, I'll serve a few Southern style apps ... sausage pinwheels, cheese straw, fried green tomatoes? Any other suggestions for apps and dessert?

            1. re: jwg

              My two cents . . .

              for another side you could do a vinegary cucumber salad (with dill if you like), or corn on the cob.

              Dessert I would think peach or blackberry cobbler with ice cream.

              And for appetizers, I would suggest celery stuffed w/pimento cheese, deviled eggs, and those sausage balls (are those the same as the pinwheels? I'm not sure).

              Like this:
              http://www.foodnetwork.com/food/recip...

              1. re: jwg

                I purchased the mini Challah rolls at my local Trader Joe's. I think they only recently started carrying them, as I'd never seen them there before. If you can't find those, you might want to check your local grocery store for the mini sweet Hawaiian rolls which are the similar in size to the White Castle buns.

                I think the Hawaiian rolls would actually hold up better than the super flat White Castle buns. The mini challah rolls were the perfect size, because after eating all the appetizers, people didn't want an entire hamburger bun.

                I also offered individual sliced Ciabatta rolls that were similar in size to a regular hamburger bun. I was surprised to see that even the men at our party selected the mini challah roll over the Ciabatta.

                This is the coleslaw recipe I used for our party. It keeps a really long time and you can easily make it with less sugar and oil.

                http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article...

                Fruit crisp with vanilla ice cream might make a nice dessert. Great b/c you can make it the night before and just warm before serving. Let me know if need recipes. Or if you want to go super simple, just served fresh sliced fruit or ice cream sundaes.

                Hope that helps!

              2. re: cvhound

                Sorry for intruding in this-it all sounds like it went well and I am so please for you-just couldn't help but LOL at the thought of pork on challah bread! Politics may make strange bedfellows, but Chowhounds do it better!

                1. re: LJS

                  You know, I didn't give it a second thought b/c I've always loved challah bread and the mini ones were the perfect size to serve at our dinner. But now that you point it out, I guess it is kinda funny, lol... Loved your last comment, btw!

                2. Has anyone tried pressure canning pulled pork?

                  3 Replies
                  1. re: sarah galvin

                    I've canned pickled pork tongue and pigs feet. Not pressure canning, but simple heat processing.
                    Too chicken to store on the shelf, so I store them in the fridge - been 4 months and still great.

                    1. re: porker

                      A pork butt roast makes a lot of meat. Next time, I think I'll try pressure canning the left overs so I can keep them for a later meal.

                      1. re: sarah galvin

                        Just put it in the freezer. I think that the fat rendered makes it like a confit. I have never found that the texture was affected by the freezer.