Whole Hog - When to Remove from Cooker?
We're doing a 60 - 70 lb porker this weekend on a gas cooker and will be smoking it with wood, the standard low and slow technique. We want the meat to come out fork tender for pulling and I know collagen will melt at 180 deg. F. I am also aware of the standard advice to remove from a cooker before the final desired temp because of the heat momentum. I will have temperature probes in a couple of the hams. So my question is at what temp should I remove the hog to be sure the meat will be nice and pull apart tender once it rests for about a half hour?
In addition to what John E. said (all good, BTW), I'd add that you don't have to worry about yanking it from the cooker the instant it hits 190F....it'll hold at 190-200F for a LONG time, with no problems. Certainly enough time to finish your beer (or even start and finish another one!).
I'd say about 190. The thing where you remove the meat before the desired final temp doesn't really apply here as it does wtih prime rib or other beef. You'll want the hams and shoulders to get that hot for a while so they will pull apart nicely. You'll also have to let it rest for longer than a 1/2 hour, not because of cooking temp but because it will be too hot to handle.