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Pulled pork using whole boneless pork,loin

I know this isn't the right cut of pork for this but I found two whole boneless loins in the freezer at the soup kitchen where I volunteer. And when the food bank gives you pork loin - which just about never happens - you make something with it. And I'm going to make pulled pork.

So when I make pulled pork in the oven with a whole shoulder, I do it low and slow (250o for at least 10 hours). I don't add any liquid - just rub with spices and roast uncovered. Any suggestions on how to adapt for loin? I will NOT be using a slow cooker, so please no suggestions using one. I don't know exactly how much meat I have - maybe 15 to 20 lbs. Will cook pork at home and pull the day before serving. Reheat with BBQ sauce at the soup kitchen the next day.

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  1. Frankly I wouldn't cook the loin low & slow. I'd treat it, no matter what the weight, like a roast pork loin. Meaning about 375F - 400F, seasoned. Take it from oven when internal temp. reaches 150F and let it rest while you get your BBQ sauce together.

    I find low & slow for a loin cooks it too long for no reason. Although there's fat in the loin there's not enough to make it tender and juicy.

    1. However you decide to cook your loin, brine it for 12-24 hours first in salted water with bay leaves, peppercorns, brown sugar. This will keep the pork loin moist while you cook it in the oven. If you want to make pulled pork out of it, you mat want to opt for chopped pork as it may be difficult to pull this cut. Good luck with your roasts.

      1. I just made pulled pork with a loin a few days ago. It was only about 4 lbs of meat, but I agree with Gio on the higher temp, less time thing. I did 375 and it took about 40 mins (not sure exactly, I just kept checking temp). I did it in a giant packet I made of foil to keep the moisture in, and as I pulled the meat, I'd put it back in the liquid fat left in the packet so it could soak up the juice.
        I did the whole loin with just with salt, pepper and spices, then simmered the shreds in my sauce later in the day. Turned out pretty decent.
        Good luck!

        1. I use pork loin all the time for pulled pork. I put rub it with salt and pepper and then put it in the crock pot with onions, a can of coke (sorry gourmands), chopped onion and barbecue sauce. Sometimes I mix up my own sauce, but if I'm in a hurry I use bottled sauce. Then I cook it on low for 8 hours. Sometimes the sauce is a little thin, in that case I pull some sauce out at the end and heat in a sauce pan with flour and then put back in the pot.

          1. I'd roast it too. Pork loin just won't cooperate with low and slow, IME. I'd roast, cut into slices, cover with gravy, and reheat the next day.

            7 Replies
            1. re: tcamp

              Because this is for a soup kitchen, where we absolutely have to stretch the meat as far as possible, slicing it and serving like that just won't do. We have too many clients and the number can't be predicted. Some days we have 140 people, other days 90. You have to be prepared to adjust servings to accommodate the crowd. So although we have done loin as a roast, we only do that when we have LOTS of meat available. We need to turn this into something different - pulled would work well. I assume it can be done.

              What if I "simulate" a slow cooker by cooking it low with some liquid? Would that be better? Or am I best to just roast til done, then pull as well as possible and reheat in sauce?

              1. re: Nyleve

                Nyleve, it Can be done. <"What if I "simulate" a slow cooker by cooking it low with some liquid? Would that be better? Or am I best to just roast til done, then pull as well as possible and reheat in sauce?">

                Roast till done, pull as well as possible, reheat in sauce. That's my final answer. LOL. Good luck, Nyleve. You have been doing such a great job with this assignment.

                1. re: Nyleve

                  The reason for the coke is to help breakdown the meat.

                2. re: tcamp

                  I think using the liquid to simulate the slow cooker would work. The flour-thickened sauce and onions really stretch the meat. I usually cook a 2.5-3lb loin and it fills the pot by the time it's done. You can serve it over hamburger rolls or white bread to save money with some coleslaw. This is not an elegant meal, but it is hearty and affordable.

                  1. re: juliep999

                    That's what we plan to do. Buns, cole slaw. Maybe pickles. Probably some dessert - either day old cakes from a friendly supermarket or some fabulous thing we make ourselves. If it's hot, just watermelon would be good too. One of the other volunteers will be making the barbecue sauce from ingredients collected in the soup kitchen pantry (starting with a giant can of ketchup).

                    1. re: Nyleve

                      I think bbq with coleslaw is a great way to stretch that food. When you reheat it in the sauce, it becomes plumper and truly seems like more food when it hits the belly. Loin is not that hard to pull. It won't look quite like the real thing, but should be quite tasty. Here is a pic of some of my pulled loin before sauce from the weekend so you know about what to expect.

                      1. re: alliegator

                        That looks just fine to me! Thanks!

                3. I'd go dry rubbed, low, slow and covered firmly to retain juices. Smoked hickory salt or a dash of that liquid smoke stuff is a good cheat, but use sparingly. A little dab will do you. Pull it in it's pan juices. For me bbq sauce or any hotsauce and slaw are personal condiments. I would not mix prepared bbq sauce into the pork itself.

                  Edit: I use whatever I can find for a dry rub - celery salt, onion powder, garlic powder, paprika and hickory smoke salt - careful on the salt. I've made it many times with a partial loin. When they are on sale and you are a family of two, you learn to take advantage of the whole loin in a few meals. If you have canned baked beans and salsa in the pantry that would make a nice side dish. I learned years ago that jarred salsa elevates canned beans. Good luck. Your clients are lucky you put so much thought on preparing a nice meal.

                  1. I'd pot roast it with a little vinegar and stock, some seasoning and maybe some dried peppers. I use canned chipotle in Adobo sauce if I'm using it for tacos or Mexican dishes. Then after you've pulled it you can add some of the liquid back in to season and moisten it.

                    1. I've made pulled pork out of boneless pork loin. It just needs a bit more "love" Typically I buy a whole loin, cut out the "center cut" chops/roasts, then I braise the ends. A rub, and some liquid (root beer gives a nice sweet note) cover and cook till tender. I would chop the loin into pieces to move the process along.

                      Sometimes I've done a quick sear to get some caramelization for extra flavor going to, then deglaze with my braising liquid.

                      Good luck, and thanks for your efforts!

                      1. I'm in the roasting camp. Roasting will save you time and reduce the risk of dry meat.

                        I would brine and roast.

                        Do you have access to a deli slicer at the soup kitchen? If so, I would thinly slice the roasted pork before adding to the bbq sauce.

                        Basically, instead of pulled pork, you're making chopped pork sandwiches.

                        7 Replies
                        1. re: dave_c

                          I don't understand your thesis, nor do I understand adding bbq sauce. perhaps it is a regional thing. When I dry rub and roast a tghtly tin foil roast slow and low, it comes out just fine with enough moisture that has not ben evaporated to reincorporate into the meat. I prefer my vinegar, bbq sauce, hot sauce and coleslaw on the side as a personal choice for the diner.

                          1. re: Bellachefa

                            The OP mentioned that she's adding bbq sauce when she reheats at the soup kitchen. I was just working within the parameters that were set.

                            I believe roasting and cutting thin is just a time saving step so the OP doesn't have to spend 10 hours cooking the pork at home before taking the roast to the soup kitchen.

                            1. re: dave_c

                              I will be cooking it at home because we only have 2 hours to prepare the meal at the kitchen itself. We almost always do some prep ahead of time and finish when we get in. So yes, I will be cooking the meat at home and pulling (or chopping) it beforehand. Will put into catering pans and reheat with pan juices and some (maybe not a lot) of barbecue sauce to serve. Will serve additional sauce for clients to add to their sandwiches at lunchtime.

                              All these replies have been really helpful so thank you for your suggestions. I realize that pulled pork is one of this things that tends to bring out intense opinions so I was a bit worried about asking how to make it with an inappropriate cut. Believe me, if it's even halfway decent, it will be very much appreciated by our people. They are just happy to get a home cooked meal - nobody cares if it's authentically prepared.

                              1. re: Nyleve

                                I tip of my hat to you for your work at the soup kitchen.

                                1. re: Nyleve

                                  I'm sure your clients will love it, no matter HOW it's prepared... I used to help at our church lunch program and the guys were thrilled with practically anything we gave them. They were just glad to have a hot meal in their stomachs!

                                  But I have a pork loin in the fridge and now I'm thinking that I might try to pull it myself... a shoulder is far too big for two people, so I usually stick to the half loin.

                                  1. re: Kajikit

                                    When I mentioned to the coordinators that I would be using the meat to make pulled pork, even they went a bit crazy! No one here is a connoisseur of BBQ, so unless it turns out completely inedible (which I doubt) no one is going to criticize the preparation. I love this job - lots of good vibes.

                              2. re: Bellachefa

                                Not to be picky, but it isn't a roast if it is wrapped in tin foil. But it gives me the idea of browning first and then essentially braising it in foil.

                                Regardless, I think Nyleve's approach above is perfect for her or his objective.

                            2. I made crockpot pulled pork loin the other day and I used half a can of root beer in it (I really don't like root beer and I didn't want it to come out tasting too much like it...) half a can of water and some Sonnys bottled bbq sauce. I turned the loin over every two hours or so and at the six hour mark it was starting to break up so I used a fork to split it. Two hours later it was perfect! And no, it didn't taste like root beer, just nice and smoky. You hardly even needed to add extra sauce it was so good. Freezing most of it in meal-sized portions and we've had pulled pork sandwiches two days in a row. Yum! I don't use my crockpot much but this was one dish that came out perfectly... and it didn't heat up the kitchen.

                              2 Replies
                              1. re: Kajikit

                                Do you have a recipe you will share? Curious about the root beer.

                                1. re: Gio

                                  It didn't need a recipe. Somebody upthread suggested using a can of root beer for the liquid in the crockpot and I had some handy to try it... I've seen recipes that use coca-cola or other sodas the same way. I just used root bear and a slosh of bottled bbq sauce.

                              2. Just served the pulled pork today for lunch at the soup kitchen and I thought I'd report on the results. I started with two whole boneless pork loins - probably 10 to 12 lbs. each. Cut them into quarters and seasoned liberally with onion salt, pepper, garlic powder and whatever else I had in my bag of tricks. Then mixed up a witches brew of liquids - one jar of "pulled pork sauce" (found in soup kitchen pantry), some pickled garlic that I've never figured out what to do with, some leftover BBQ sauce and just a bit of water. Covered tightly with foil and baked at 325 for about 6 hours. I know - it seems insane for loin. But it worked really really well. I wanted the meat to be easily shreddable, which it was. Returned it to the pan with about half of the pan juices (fat skimmed off). Reheated this morning at the soup kitchen and served on hamburger buns with slaw, pasta salad, baked beans and miscellaneous condiments. Hugely well received and a really good use of the meat. We served about 90 people.

                                Thanks to all who gave suggestions. It IS possible to make pulled pork from boneless loin!

                                2 Replies
                                  1. re: jnk

                                    (Blush) aw thanks. I really enjoy doing this. We have a good team and have lots of fun planning, cooking and serving the Tuesday meal.

                                1. YES this works and it works perfectly. In a pan or dutch oven simply stew the tenderloins in a little cola, beer, BBQ sauce, maybe some vinegar or any combination you like. Preheat oven to 450. Bring to a boil and then stick covered pot into oven. After 10 minutes reduce oven 220. Cook about 45 minutes per pound. Pork is ready when you can easily pull it apart with two forks. Makes the most delicious and leanest pork BBQ you will ever have.

                                  1. YES this works and it works perfectly. In a pan or dutch oven simply stew the tenderloins in a little cola, beer, BBQ sauce, maybe some vinegar or any combination you like. Preheat oven to 450. Bring to a boil and then stick covered pot into oven. After 10 minutes reduce oven 220. Cook about 45 minutes per pound. Pork is ready when you can easily pull it apart with two forks. Makes the most delicious and leanest pork BBQ you will ever have.k

                                    1. The texture of pork loin will NEVER pull, or shred. Be prepared to chop. Why not brine, then roast and shave for bbq pork sandwiches? Just sayin'.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: letsindulge

                                        ^^^ see picture. It falls right apart