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Jul 25, 2009 10:08 AM

Whole Pork Shoulder Transport- Pull Now or Later?

I'm going to slow smoke a whole pork shoulder. Then I'm going to take it with me to a friend's house, 6 hours away and serve it for dinner the next night.
Should I pull it apart and sauce it before I hit the road, or leave it whole and shred it right before I serve it?

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    1. I'd say whatever is easiest for you. If you'd be more comfortable in your own kitchen with your own stuff, then do it at your place. I've done plenty of shoulders and heated them up the next day and they were still great. I'll pour a little beer into the tray, cover and warm in the oven or on a grill. The beer will steam the meat a bit.

      It also means you can keep the drippings if you so choose.


      1. Pork Shoulder is best pulled hot - so take it our of the smoker when done, let it cool a bit then pull it. it reheats really well

        1. What I'm reading is that the trip is 6 hours plus you're not serving until the following night.

          If that's correct, I would smoke the shoulder until you get to your desired pulling temperature (195-200)...then let it cool for 30 minutes to an hour. Wrap the whole shoulder in foil and refrigerate. You can do this a couple days in advance. When ready tot travel, add another layer or two of foil and cover the shoulder with ice in a cooler. You'll want to keep it below 40 degrees for the entire trip. Place it in the fridge once at your friend's house. When ready to reheat, just leave it in the foil and place in a 300 degree oven for three hours. You want the internal temperature to come up to 165 on the reheat. Once there you can unwrap and pull to your heart's content.

          I would not recommend pulling and saucing before the trip. I've seen bad things happen when trying to reheat pre-sauced bbq. If you don't sauce and try to reheat pulled pork, it's very easy to dry it out around the edges. Keeping the shoulder whole will solve all these problems. It will reheat fine and be in perfect condition once you get it back up to 165.

          4 Replies
          1. re: JayL

            Okay. I'll give that a try. I was worried about reheating the shoulder whole - worried about it drying out during the cool down and reheat - but I guess if I wrap it well enough it will retain its moisture. Thanks a lot.

            1. re: Fenwick

              Save as many drippings as you can initially and add some back if it's a bit too dry.


              1. re: Davwud

                Most of the drippings get lost to the smoker, but once I take it out I'll wrap it tightly and try and preserve as much liquid and moisure as I can. I still don't have a consensus on the best time to shred it, but maybe that means both options will work.
                Thanks again.

              2. re: Fenwick

                I would be worried about trying to cool down a whole shoulder to under 40 degrees in under 2 hrs as reccomended for safe food handling. A normal residential fridge wouldn't be able to manage this. Much safer to pull and allow the pork to cool quickly by spreading it out. Put the pork in some zip lock bags,add some apple juice, dripping and some sauce and keep in the fridge to you are ready to travel. Can re-heat by simmering the zip locks in a pot of water or dump it all pot/tray and add more liquid as needed. It will be fine.

            2. While I was in NY I catered a wedding rehearsal party for a friend in VA. The groom wanted pulled pork with all the trimmings for the dinner. I smoked and pulled the pork and placed it in foil roasters along with the drippings (Caught in a pan beneath the pig) in NY, transported it to the site in VA, rewarmed it there in a low oven, and then dressed it with the sauce and allowed it to warm a little longer. My trial run showed that pulling the pork after it was refrigerated was more time consuming and resulted in larger chunks than pulling it warm immediately after cooking. The pig was received with raves, especially comforting to me since it was being served to people who know and love their BBQ!

              4 Replies
              1. re: morwen

                Makes sense. Very helpful information. Thanks morwen!

                1. re: Fenwick

                  My first mass-quantity pulled-pork experience was similar to morwen's, though I was oven-roasting two shoulder butts to make fake kahlua pig for a big Tiki-theme party at our house. I cooked the pork the day before the party and then shredded them hot into two foil pans just as he did, with juices poured over. These were reheated at party time and served with sauce on the side. This was in Nashville, so I wasn't feeding the ignorant either. I think the extra storage and reheating helped further to blunt the whang of liquid smoke; anyway, both pans were clean after the first hour.

                  1. re: Will Owen

                    While I didn't use liquid smoke (not that I don't from time to time) I agree that the storage time in the drippings seemed to deepen and enrich the smokey flavor. It was a subtle bass note that I don't notice when smoking, pulling, saucing, and serving immediately. Then the smoke flavor is more "brassy".

                    Oh, by the way, "...two foil pans just as *she* did..." ;-)

                    1. re: morwen

                      Sorry - I was brought up (a very, very long time ago!) to use masculine as the default gender when the subject's sex is unknown. Which - thank you! - is no longer the case.

                      Yes, I think the worst thing about liquid smoke is that it produces the cartoon version of what happens when meat is smoked. Too simple, flat, one-dimensional. Like the difference in flavor between pre-salted meat and meat salted at the table. But when the liquid stuff was used before cooking, and then given even more time post-cooking to blend with the salt and the juices, that sharp licking-the-ashtray tang goes away.