Pulled pork question

Once the shoulder has come up to temp (~195F), how long does it need to rest before, well, pulling it? :slight_smile:

This is my third try, and both previous times I had to return it to the smoker for 1-2 hours before it would shred (however I only rested it wrapped in foil for 15-30min)

Thanks in advance!

How long did you smoke it? A 30 minute rest after coming out of the smoker should be more than adequate if you’ve actually smoked it long enough. Just getting it up to temp of 195 isn’t going to scratch the surface when it comes to breaking down the collagen and making a tender, “pullable” pork.

Fair question, I’m very new at this; bought a cheap barrel-style smoker on a whim a few months ago.

Smoked for 4-5 hours until the temp stalled, then wrapped in foil and returned to the grill until the probe thermometer reached 195, approx. 2-3 hours.

Sounds like you were running too hot. Keep the temperature lower and let it go longer. Also, put in a pan or on a makeshift pan made from aluminum foil. The juices that collect on the bottom will help out. But you may need to drain it occasionally depending on the meat.

ETA: Seeing the previous post, you just need some more experience with the smoker to control the temperature over long times.

It ain’t ready to shred until it’s ready to shred.

You can bring it up to temp in the smoker, then tent it and put in in your oven at 225 until it’s shreddable, just makes it easier to control the temp and check on it.

Once you can scrape some off really easily with a fork, pull it out and rest it at least an hour. I rest it until it’s cool enough so I can use my hands on it.

smoke @ 225-275 until the internal temp is 195-197 - until the meat ‘slumps’ in on itself. A fork inserted from the top or sides should all but literally slide into the meat - meeting almost no resistance.

You do not ‘rest it’ to get it up to temp - you ‘rest it’ to redistribute the juices - it will go well beyond the 195 mark while resting.

The collagen breakdown (snappy song title) happens during the platue period which happens around 175.

Sounds like you pulled it too early to me.

How big is it, and at what temperature did you cook it? 4-5 hours is a really, really short cook for a normal sized shoulder. I think you’ve got a roast pork and not BBQ on your hands. If you’re doing shoulder, a good way to tell if it’s done is the bone. If you can grab the bone, jiggle it, and feel that it’s loose, it’s done. In my experience, you can pull the bone right out of a properly cooked shoulder when it’s ready to come off.

I normally cook pork butt at 225 or so, and it takes at least 13 hours to come up to 190ish (sometimes frustratedly longer.) Once it does, I take it off and wrap it in foil. It usually rests 20-30 minutes – Like DonLogan, my rule of thumb (literally) is that if I can stand to pull it with my bare fingers, it’s time to pull.

Our protocol is to smoke it until we lose patience, then put it in the electric roaster in the garage overnight at a very low temp (I think my husband uses 200). With the lid keeping moisture in you basically can’t overcook it. Also the house doesn’t get smelled up.

Take it up to 200 instead of 195 next time. We pull ours off at 200 and have never had a problem with it being tough to pull.

My beef ribs are 5 hrs in my SmokeMaster 1000. Isn’t pork shoulder supposed to be closer to 8?

If you want pulled pork that doesn’t take forever, get boneless country-style ribs, which is really (almost always) pork shoulder butts (Boston Butt) cut in strips. Look for the leaner cuts - BJ’s usually has a good selection.

Way too hot of BBQ temp if you hit 195 in 5 hours!

I smoked mine Friday night / Saturday (an 8.5 pounder) over hickory at 220 for 5 hours, then moved to oven, no foil, for another 12 hours at 225. Boston butts shred so well when you prepare them Low and Slow because you allow all the delicious fat and collagen to render. Once I hit 195, I wrap it in foil and towels and place it in a small cooler. It will stay at food safe temps for at least three hours, which allows me a nice window to hit a dinner time. I pull it right at dinner, and hit it with a apple cider vinegar NC-style finishing sauce.

If you get it to 195 too fast, you’ll have the consistency of sliced pork. The foil rest is not the key. BBQ slow.

Like that’s a bad thing? I always dab a little behind my ears.

Why is everyone under the impression that the OP only cooked it for 4-5 hours? He clearly says 4-5, then another 2-3.

That’s still too short by half for the average pork butt. I do a 7lb butt for 14 hours at 225.

Good reference source:

Me, I’m blaming the rye. Regardless, that’s still too quick for a normal supermarket-sized shoulder.

This, and other answers in this vein, are correct.

There is no absolute 100% foolproof target temp to take pulled pork to where it shreds. It shreds when it shreds. I’ve had pork shred at 190. I’ve had pork not shred until 200 or slightly more. If I had to pick a number, 197 is a good one, but USE YOUR SENSES! This ain’t rocket science, you don’t need probes and gadgets to figure out when its done. It’s done when the following holds true:

  1. The meat slumps upon itself
  2. The bone can be removed with little to no resistance
  3. A fork inserted into the meat twists with little to no resistance

That’s it. The meat is done when it tells you it’s done.

It’s quite possible your thermometer is off. My own digital thermometer, for example, reads about 4-5 degrees high. (Just stick it in boiling water to get a rough idea of how off it is. If it’s well off 212, well, there’s your problem.) The only reason I ever probe my pork shoulder is to get an idea of how far along it is. I do not ever pull it based on temperature. Never ever. I pull it when it feels right.

That said, I tend to prefer chopped pork to pulled pork, so I generally pull it before it becomes shreddable when I’m making it for myself. For parties, I take it all the way.

I do a typical pork butt in 6-9 hours in the smoker @ 250-270. It’s shreddable, it’s soft, it’s juicy. You don’t have to sit around for 12-14 hours for it to be done. In fact, I prefer slightly higher temps, as I swear the pork tastes juicier to me, and it’s got a better bark. The OP’s timeline is not crazy off and should yield a fine product, although I never foil my butts while cooking. (I will very occasionally foil a brisket.)

As for rest, I’ve done it with no rest, but 30 minutes to an hour wrapped tightly in foil in a cooler seems to do well for a butt. But I typically only do that when I have to hold it. Otherwise, I just serve it as soon as it comes off the smoker.

Seriously, just use and trust your senses. If it ain’t done, it ain’t done. Give it time. And nothing wrong with your time (other than not waiting long enough) or temps.

Not really. Chefs routinely cook Boston butts in the oven for 6-7 hours for other applications, and they turn out with basically the exact same texture as pulled pork barbecue.

ETA: Rye!

Man thanks y’all for talking me out of doing this. It’s worth a few extra bucks to buy it. :slight_smile: