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Hey guys, I'm looking for some advice as to why my last 2 cooks have ended up a disaster!

 

Yesterday I attempted to cook pulled pork for the first time but after a 9.5 hour cook it came out really dry and wouldn't pull at all. I used a shop bought 2kg pork shoulder, trimmed most of the fat off and had it in my kamado for 2pm temps between 225 and 250 the entire time. 

 

The pork stalled at about 135 at about 4pm for around 3 hours, and then slowly rose to 165 before i wrapped it at about 10pm. 

 

I spritzed it regularly throughout the cook and before wrapping, and I pulled it out to rest at 195. 

 

Took it out the cooler bag expecting it to be juicy and falling apart but it was like tough leather on the outside and just dry on the inside. 

 

I tested all my temperature probes and even took the thermometer out the kamado to test and they all checked out fine.

 

What the hell am I doing wrong? 

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Was it a true pork shoulder cut or was it a Boston Butt cut. They are slightly different. A shoulder cut is what you would make spiral hams out of. A Boston Butt is what you would make pulled pork from. 

 

Either way 2 kg is a small chunk of meat. Normally with a Boston butt I would say you pulled it out too early at 195*. It sounds counter intuitive but letting it go to the 200*-203* range will allow more internal fat to render down giving you a more moist final product. Also you didn't say how long you let it rest for. I would have let it rest at least 2 hours. 

 

If you wrapped it at 165* at 10pm this cook would have finally ended and been ready to pull sometime in the middle of the night. If you were attempting to eat pulled pork that same day you would want to start it around 4-6 am not 2 pm. Also don't be fooled by the small size. Small chunks of low-n-slow can take just as long as a bigger chunk. 

 

There's a few thoughts to think about. 

 

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10 minutes ago, ckreef said:

Was it a true pork shoulder cut or was it a Boston Butt cut. They are slightly different. A shoulder cut is what you would make spiral hams out of. A Boston Butt is what you would make pulled pork from. 

 

Either way 2 kg is a small chunk of meat. Normally with a Boston butt I would say you pulled it out too early at 195*. It sounds counter intuitive but letting it go to the 200*-203* range will allow more internal fat to render down giving you a more moist final product. Also you didn't say how long you let it rest for. I would have let it rest at least 2 hours. 

 

If you wrapped it at 165* at 10pm this cook would have finally ended and been ready to pull sometime in the middle of the night. If you were attempting to eat pulled pork that same day you would want to start it around 4-6 am not 2 pm. Also don't be fooled by the small size. Small chunks of low-n-slow can take just as long as a bigger chunk. 

 

There's a few thoughts to think about. 

 

+1...leave it in longer

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13 minutes ago, ckreef said:

Was it a true pork shoulder cut or was it a Boston Butt cut. They are slightly different. A shoulder cut is what you would make spiral hams out of. A Boston Butt is what you would make pulled pork from. 

 

Either way 2 kg is a small chunk of meat. Normally with a Boston butt I would say you pulled it out too early at 195*. It sounds counter intuitive but letting it go to the 200*-203* range will allow more internal fat to render down giving you a more moist final product. Also you didn't say how long you let it rest for. I would have let it rest at least 2 hours. 

 

If you wrapped it at 165* at 10pm this cook would have finally ended and been ready to pull sometime in the middle of the night. If you were attempting to eat pulled pork that same day you would want to start it around 4-6 am not 2 pm. Also don't be fooled by the small size. Small chunks of low-n-slow can take just as long as a bigger chunk. 

 

There's a few thoughts to think about. 

 

Yeah it was a supermarket boneless pork shoulder. I was wondering if maybe I should have left some fat on the top, but if its likely to be that fact i took it off too early and didn't rest it long enough i'll buy another and try again. 

 

I ended up running out of fuel in my Kamado by the end so next time i'll maybe take out the ash basket and just fill the Kamado up normally so i can fir more lump wood in.

 

The disappointment with this one was real. I just made a couple toasted sandwiches with some bbq sauce and cheese and it actually tasted really good. 

 

Next time i'll set up to be cooking by 7am. 

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4 minutes ago, pittmab said:

I have done this with supermarket pork shoulder here in the UK, both bone in and boneless and I'm pretty sure its the same cut as a Boston butt. It will definitely pull once you get it over 200F.

 

Good luck with the next one.

Thanks mate. 

 

Im in Scotland so you can imagine my joy after 9.5 hours checking on it in the pissing rain :lol:

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I started one at 5:30 this morning for dinner this evening. This is my first on the Kamado, but I have always allowed about 12 hours for pulled pork. I usually watch for an internal temp of 203 when cooking on my offset smoker, but only pull them off when the probe feels like it is going into soft butter. 

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25 minutes ago, SPD500 said:

I usually watch for an internal temp of 203 when cooking on my offset smoker, but only pull them off when the probe feels like it is going into soft butter. 

Probing is key. I did @ six pound butt yesterday on the Treager. 4-5 hours at 225. Put it in a aluminum pan and loosely tented with foil, raise to 250 for a few hours. Raised the temp to 275 last couple hours. At 190 on my wireless probe, I started probing with a Thermoworks instant probe. Read 190+ up to about 200 (several positions around butt. Pulled it as the probe was going in easily. The meat still had a little texture, but tender. Not quite a shred, more pulled. Another hour or two would probably have gone to shredded, if that's what you like. I can go either way.

 

An old school trick is to wiggle the bone. When it is loose and pulls out clean, the butt is ready. No probe needed.

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Ronnie sorry to hear of your troubles with pulled pork. I have a few questions for you

1 How cold was the butt when it went on the smoker?

2 You said you spritz regularly how often is that? The more you spritz the longer the cook. From my stick smoker days "if your looking you ain't cooking" I love our southern friends they have such good phrases and food.

3 In Scotland you have pissing rain ? In Ohio we have freaking snow.(hope this doesn't offend anyone)

4 That stall at 135 has me puzzled mine usually stall at a higher temp. If your short on time wrap in foil at the stall with a cup or 2 of broth pop in oven at 350 till temp hits 200 let it rest for an hour or so and enjoy

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12 minutes ago, John Setzler said:

Here's one of the pinned posts from the top of this section of the forum:

 

 

 

This writeup covers about everything you would want to know about cooking a butt :)

 

Thanks John. I'll study it to the letter and report back, hopefully this time with a perfect pulled pork ;)

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8 minutes ago, len440 said:

Ronnie sorry to hear of your troubles with pulled pork. I have a few questions for you

1 How cold was the butt when it went on the smoker?

2 You said you spritz regularly how often is that? The more you spritz the longer the cook. From my stick smoker days "if your looking you ain't cooking" I love our southern friends they have such good phrases and food.

3 In Scotland you have pissing rain ? In Ohio we have freaking snow.(hope this doesn't offend anyone)

4 That stall at 135 has me puzzled mine usually stall at a higher temp. If your short on time wrap in foil at the stall with a cup or 2 of broth pop in oven at 350 till temp hits 200 let it rest for an hour or so and enjoy

Hey Len! Thanks man, I think i'll just chalk this one up to being a practice run.

 

The pork was out the fridge about 20 mins before it went in the smoker, and from memory I'm sure the probe came in at 42

I spritzed once every hour after hour 2 with apple cider vinegar, apple juice and water mix

In Scotland it sometimes feels like the difference between summer and winter is only warm or cold rain ;)

The stall at 135 had me really puzzled as well. It crept up around 2 degrees every 45mins or so from 135

 

 

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19 hours ago, Ronnie9 said:

Thanks mate. 

 

Im in Scotland so you can imagine my joy after 9.5 hours checking on it in the pissing rain :lol:

 

:-) I am also in the UK, so I can definitely imagine your joy! I recommend a garden parasol to keep you a little drier - and an LED worklamp on a stand which can be had from Toolstation for £36. That way you can stay dry and see what you are doing....

 

A remote thermometer is also a wonderful thing as you don't need to go out to check. If I am cooking a pork shoulder I normally don't wrap it at all and will not open the dome once between putting it on and around30 minutes before it is done. Don't open the dome to spritz or anything like that - just put the meat on and leave it alone. "If you're looking, you ain't cooking".

 

As for the cut of pork, exactly what you are looking for is a "neck end pork shoulder with the blade bone left in and the spine removed". Rind off - but keep the rind to make crackling. This cut of meat will typically run about 5kg and you'll need to speak to a proper butcher to get good quality cut the way you want it. You do want to leave the fat cap on.

 

I cook at 110-130C until the internal temperature reaches 85-90C, then pull it and the latent heat will take it to 95C. Leave it to rest at least 30 minutes before you want to eat.

 

Finally, you need to leave plenty of time. For a 5K piece, I will normally put it on the Kamado around 10 or 11pm. It will normally be done somewhere around midday the next day. When it's done, I wrap it in a double layer of foil, then some towels and then leave it to rest in an insulated cooler. It will stay hot like this for hours, and will be perfect for a meal around 3-6pm which gives you plenty of time to make sides etc....

 

 

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