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Jun 14, 2010 04:50 PM

A question for the BBQ/Smoking mavens

I've been reading about making pulled pork ahead of time and freezing it. Everything I've read said it comes out great. Two questions, do you freeze it after you've added sauce to it or before?

The second question has to do with smoking a brisket. Can I make this 2 days ahead? If so, how can I store it so that it stays moist?

Thanks all in advance.

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  1. I freeze pork shoulders all the time. Typically I rub it with a dry rub, then wrap it in foil before putting it in a large freezer bag or wrapping it with plastic wrap. Freeze it and defrost it when you're ready. BTW, you never want to sauce barbecue until the very end, because the tomato sauce will burn and char the meat.

    Cook it low and slow, and sauce the meat twenty minutes before you take it off the smoker...but it's really hard to mess up a pork shoulder. Don't worry too much.

    Good luck.

    4 Replies
    1. re: wangjing_398

      Don't sauce it at all.

      Allow the consumer to sauce it themselves.


      1. re: Davwud

        Thanks D-
        I was going to add "some" sauce before I froze it in order to add a little moisture.

        1. re: jnk

          I took your question to mean "sauce AFTER cooking, but before freezing". I would definitely sauce it lightly for the reason you noted. To me, cooked meats that are then frozen "dry", ALWAYs take on a funky taste that sauces/gravies help absolve.

          That said, I would make a light tasting, non-BBQ sauce that won't masquerade the flavor of *your* wonderfully prepared pork! As someone else said, leave the BBQ sauce to the one that will be eating it.

          1. re: jnk

            What I do is finish cooking in the oven in a roasting pan. I pour the juices into a measuring cup. I let it settle and then separate. The smoked pig fat then goes into a jar for later use. Some of the actual pig juice gets poured back into the PP with some BBQ seasoning.


      2. One difficult, one easy. Easy first.

        Smoke the shoulder, pull it and sauce it, as if you were serving it. Assume you'll use a N. Carolina vinegar/CRP sauce, and not something sweet or overwhelming. If you freeze it in containers, fill completely to try avoiding freezer burn. Best bet: Food Saver. I find you can reheat the Food Saver with boiling water, or defrost a container in the fridge first, then nuke (yes, nuke) or heat on the stove in a pot. Have extra sauce/rub handy for a reheat "boost."

        More difficult: I have done the brisket to finished (about 200 internal), then cool, wrap in foil, be sure there is a good bit of liquid or beef broth in there, and fridge. You then need tremendous patience and faith to place the still-foiled brisket on a pan and back into the oven, at no more than about 275. You need to bring the internal temp up to 150 (says the health dept) and it should be moist and tender.

        Reverse option is to cook initially to 180 or so (past the plateau), then reheat to 200. Will this better approximate a "fresh finish" or will it push the meat too far on the reheat? Don't know. I'd use the first approach. GL!

        4 Replies
        1. re: woodburner

          I freeze shoulder both chunked/whole and pulled in my Food Saver. Sometimes with sauce, sometimes without. Since it's vacuumed, it doesn't really NEED sauce; no freezer burn anyway. I recommend a Food Saver to anyone who owns a freezer.

          1. re: sbp

            +1 I do exactly this. Whole or pulled, sauce or no, I've done it all ways, but with the food saver. The vacuum seems to be key. If I am squishing all the air out of a ziplock bag, then I will only freeze it with sauce. Also, I refrigerate it to get it cold before I freeze it, that seems to help keep it moist, too.

            1. re: runwestierun

              Yep, my understanding is that when you freeze directly from hot, the ice crystals that form are larger, which means more burst cell walls/moisture loss. Refrigerating first encourages smaller crystals.

          2. re: woodburner

            I wonder if you can steam a bbq'ed brisket like you would pastrami and how that would taste if you used that to reheat it.

          3. I never sauce my pulled pork. Some people prefer it without sauce. Provide the sauce on the side. The same goes for pork ribs.

            1. I also don't believe in adding the sauce during the bbq. I definitely prefer the sauce on the side. I simply dry rubbed it and froze it, but I mostly did the freezing for convenience. I like chopped pork, but pulled pork is awesome too.

              As for brisket, I have not done bbq brisket myself, but I don't why the same technique cannot be used. Best wishes.

              2 Replies
              1. re: Chemicalkinetics

                The pure meat is indeed wonderful, but a cider vinegar sauce that is very light in color and very thin (not northern type sweet, thick sauce) is, I think, almost universally applied to the BBQ in N. Carolina, with more available on the side. Some of that sauce really helps when the meat is going into the freezer. I serve brisket, chicken and other items with sauce on the side.

                1. re: woodburner


                  Yes, I agree with you. I do add vingear in part of my rub. I guess it isn't really a dry rub per sa. I just don't add the final barbecue sauce.
                  I do like the Southern vinegar based barbecue sauces and the mustard based. Learn those from my residential time in Georgia. I do not like the sweet tomato based sauces as much.

              2. Thank you all for your advice. My biggest concern is the brisket. My guess is that I'll just get up very early, set the grill the night before and smoke it that day.

                2 Replies
                1. re: jnk

                  Depending on the size of the brisket and the temp you're running at you might consider starting the brisket the night before.

                  1. re: jnk

                    Do you make your brisket the way I do--4 or 5 hours in smoke, and then the rest of the time in foil? If you do, I have divided that up between 2 days--smoke the first day, then wrap in foil and refrigerate. The second day maybe 9 hours in the smoker outside around 225F or in the crockpot in the kitchen on low. For some reason I like it better if it's finished in the crockpot than in the oven. Probably the moisture.