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Pulled Pork Question

I would love to smoke a Boston butt, but alas my smoker cannot handle a constant temperature for 8-10 hours. I can get maybe 2-3 hours of good smoking out of it, and that's about all the time I can spare to baby sit it. I tried smoking for 2 hours then cooking in the oven for 2-3 more, but the meat never became tender.

Here's the question: I have a pressure cooker that could easily fit a full butt, and I've seen recipes for pressure cooker pulled pork. If I wanted to smoke + pressure cook some barbecue, what order should I do it in?

rub -> smoke -> pressure
pressure -> rub -> smoke
rub -> pressure -> smoke

??

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  1. Rub > smoke > pressure (or oven)

    Meat picks up smoke flavour from raw state to, I think, about 140 degrees internal temp. A lot of smoke folks will actually foil their meat once it's hit 165 and finish it in the oven. SO I don't know if you actually need to use the pressure cooker at all.

    You mention that the meat never became tender when you tried to finish in the oven. In order to get to the pulling stage, you need an internal temp of over 190 degrees, which is when the collagen and connective tissue breaks down. It will most likely get stuck at 170-180, possibly for a couple hours, but that's normal.

    The other thing about the pressure cooker, the stem could leach out the smoke flavour, possibly. That's why I'd focus on the oven.

    2 Replies
    1. re: grandgourmand

      Your numbers are good. I finish in the oven until an internal temp of 205.

      1. re: grandgourmand

        Ditto. OP's total of 5 hours would almost certainly not be long enough (though, as mentioned, much better to cook by temp, not time).

        Also, remove the skin prior to smoking. Smoke doesn't penetrate skin well. I use whole shoulders, and smoke the skin on the lower grate till it gets to crackling stage.

      2. I am far from an expert, but advice from other Hounds has led me to this method.

        Two to three hours under smoke. Wrap tightly in heavy duty foil and into a 225 oven until the probe thermometer reads 190.

        Go slow and go by temp, not by time.

        Others will have greater detail, but this is where I work from.

        Good luck!

        2 Replies
        1. re: Monch

          You don't need much more detail than this.

          1. re: grandgourmand

            Pretty much agreed except I don't bother with a thermometer.

            I'd smoke for as long as you can. Place it in an aluminum tray and cover. Put it in the oven at a low temp (225) and let it go. I'd start in the morning (8ish) and finish it just in time to pull it for dinner. It should be good to go. Save the juices that accumulate in the pan. Pour them into a measuring cup and let it separate. Skim the fat and keep it. It's good stuff. I add a bit of the actual juice back into my pulled meat and mix it in with some of my BBQ rub. I don't rub it at all at first. It goes on the smoker as is. I usually do a whole shoulder so my cook times are substantially longer.

            BTW, this is basically how the fine folks at Jack Daniels do their butts/shoulders.

            DT

        2. I agree with the consensus that you don't need the pressure cooker, as long as you have it in the oven long enough.

          1. I agree with the others on beginning with as much time as possible in your smoker and finishing in the oven. Figure total cooking time 1 3/4 to 2 hours per pound at 230 to 240 cooking degrees. I 've had some finished at 195 degrees others at 200/205.
            I personally would not wrap it in aluminum foil for the oven time as that tends to steam the meat and break down any of the flavorful bark that develops. I would just put it in a pan big enough to catch any drippings. In fact I would elevate the butt so it would not be nested in the drippings, but that is just me maybe.
            Give yourself enough time and enjoy.

            8 Replies
            1. re: RondoChar

              One other thing I just remembered. No one has mentioned to smoke it skin side up.

              DT

              1. re: Davwud

                I think because most people choose to smoke sans skin, in order to create more surface area for bark.

                1. re: grandgourmand

                  No, no, no, wrong, wrong, wrong. You want that lovely layer of pork fat to render and baste the meat. There's plenty of surface meat for bark.

                  DT

                  1. re: Davwud

                    I dare you to tell the legions of Weber Smokey Mountain devotees on the virtual weber board how wrong, wrong, wrong they are...I don't think I've ever seen a single picture of skin-on butt.

                    All the butts I've made have been skinless. Nothing wrong, wrong, wrong about my results. Plenty of internal fat to baste the meat.

                    Personally, I have nothing against skin-on. But like many other things, there are no absolutes, just opinions. I was just opining that most pepole smoke skinless butts (yes, this is a food site despite that last statement).

                    1. re: grandgourmand

                      Most supermarkets sell it sans skin. Unless you buy a large piece, or directly from a butcher, I think it's more difficult to find w/skin on, unless you special order it. At least, here in the major market of LA.

                      1. re: grandgourmand

                        Not trolling, just saying: I truly am amazed and impressed with the level of dedication barbecuers are to their ideas. It's a testament to how wonderful the product is that so many fantastic ideas can be held with such conviction.

                        Everyone do your own thing and if it tastes good....CHOW DOWN!

                        1. re: grandgourmand

                          I know. Most people I hear about do it skin on. Then make cracklin's with the skin after.
                          To each his/her own. As long as the end product tastes good, who cares??

                          DT

                        2. re: Davwud

                          No, you've got it wrong. You pull off the skin, not the fat. There will still be a layer of fat on the meat. But in any event, pork shoulder/butt has a ton of intramuscular fat that will baste the meat. Surface fat is insignificant in contributing to moistness. No bark forms on skin, and the skin covers most of the meat.

                  2. No pressure cooker......!!!
                    Apply a generous coat of rub......
                    On your outdoor cooker as long as possible......
                    Into your oven at 225*-250*.....
                    Uncovered in a roasting pan elevated somewhat... out of the juices that will collect. (I don't cover/wrap in foil etc in my pits...Why would I want to inside the house?)
                    Target internal temperature 190*-195* (At temperatures above this the meat will begin to get mushy) I want the meat to offer a slight resistance to the tooth.
                    Rest it for 30 minutes...
                    Pull and Enjoy!

                    1. rub it, smoke it on the webber kettle, indirect with cherry wood for around 2 hours. Throw it in the pressure cooker with a beer, or wine or chicken stock, or a combo, or just water for 60 minutes. it pulls perfectly. yes the bark gets ruined, yes some of the smoke flavor gets diluted with the liquid. get home from work at 3:00, pulled pork for dinner at 6:30. it works well.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: zigglerpiggler

                        But if you put in in a low oven 200-225 It can go the whole time you are at work and you come home to a Butt that is perfect. No ruined Bark, diluted Flavor or wet mushy Texture.

                      2. Why don't you smoke and finish in the oven?