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Apr 27, 2011 07:29 AM

Pulled pork, again - how to have ready by 11 am without babysitting

Yes, another pulled pork question...

I have made pork butt many ways with great results. The last pulled pork I made, I did in the gas grill with wood chips which helped me to maintain an even temperature. I can't remember how long I cooked it. I know I have gone all night in the oven for lunch the next day. Whatever method I use, I like to cook at 225 until it reaches 195-205.

I now have a Char-Griller Duo. I am planning on smoking 2 - 8 lb butts on the charcoal side. I need for them to be ready by 11 am. How can I do that without monitoring the temp all night? What if it finishes at 3 am and I am sleeping. I don't have a wireless thermometer, but I am thinking of getting one - suggestions for a model are welcome.

Some thoughts...

1. Cook all day the day before, refrigerate, and then bring back up to temp in the morning.
2. Partially smoke in the charcoal side and then put in the gas side all night.
3. Is there a way to cook in the charcoal grill that would ensure even temp all night? I have looked at the Minion method, but this party is not a place to experiment.
4. I know I can hold them in a cooler for a few hours. How long could I hold them in a low oven (150), tightly wrapped, without it drying out.

Opinions and approximate cook time would be appreciated. Today is Wednesday and the party is on Sunday at my house, so I have access to grill, oven, microwave, refrigerator.

One more question... I see a lot of recommendations for tighlty wrapping it for a while, even if not holding, to soften the bark and keep moist. I kind of like that crunchy exterior. What do you all prefer?

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  1. In my many many years of smoking butts on both Treager and Brinkmann smokers, I have found that there is seldom a "defined time" of how long things will take.

    There are some general guidelines of 1.5 hours per/lb done at 225, but really, it's done when it's done.

    If smoking outside, consistancy of fire temp, ambient air temp, humidity, temp of water pan water, quantity of meat and temp of meat when starting all add to the variable factors.

    When i need consistancy, I usually will smoke in the smoker for 8 to 12 hours, then cover and move over to a std. kitchen oven and finish there where temp. is steady and I figure out when things would be done.

    In the case of an event like yours, I'd give myself a 24 hour window from start to finish as you can always rewarm or hold , but it MUST get done so you will have food. I'd put both butts on on Sat. morning and just cook til 200. If you want to push them , then put on later and then move to oven overnight while you are sleeping and adjust temp to meet your time needed Sunday if afternoon or later.

    Smoking meat is a science, but trying to time doneness is something that can be tricky on a schedule.

    And BTW, buy a remote probe thermometer. I use the std. ones and not the wireless units, but it's almost impossible to smoke meat without one unless you like to keep lifting the lid and looking smoke and heat checking in on your pork.

    1 Reply
    1. re: jjjrfoodie

      Thanks jjj - I think you are right about starting Saturday am. I have to take my daughter to taekwondo and that is a 2 - 3 hour window. I will have to get it going before then and check when I get back.

      I do have a remote probe - just not wireless. I am going party shopping today and will see what I can find. I couldn't live without the one I have for indoor cooking.

    2. 1. You can cook in advance, bring back to temp, but the bark won't be as barky. I like crunch bark, which is why I don't wrap in foil (though this is often recommended). Don't worry about drying it out; pork shoulder has enough fat that as long as you don't cook it past 210 internal, you should be fine with a reheat.

      2. Meat takes on smoke till about 140 degrees, so you could smoke a bit, then finish in the oven.

      3. I have a Weber Smokey Mountain smoker, which does a great job of maintaining temp int he smoke range for hours and hours. However, you really MUST have a probe thermometer to do it right and get some sleep. I have an old Nu-Temp (they are out of business) and an old Maverick, one for the meat, one for the smoke chamber. The new Maverick ET-732 monitors both at once.

      1 Reply
      1. re: sbp

        Thanks spb for the recommendation on the thermometers. As I said in my reply to jjj...
        I have a remote probe - just not wireless. I will look for one of the Maverick's.

        It is useful to know that I can get the best smoke until 140. That should be easily accomplished on Saturday.

      2. I stumbled across this site earlier thx to the folks on the kalua pork thread (on the Hawaii board). good ideas for roasting/smoking or crockpot with a few last minute revival techniques for pork butt (I wouldn't touch the crock, but not bad ideas.

        1 Reply
        1. re: hill food

          While it may not be true pulled pork as not from a smoker, I have charred the outside of the butt and then put it in the crock to cook with onions and peppers, liquid smoke, chili peppers etc. and then shredded and placed in a tin foil pan on the grill and for what it is, it comes out well, but it isn't BBQ.......there is a place for the crock, depending on your restrictions (ie. live in a city and can't have a smoker etc.)