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Old 03-13-2009, 10:11 AM
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BigRedQ BigRedQ is offline
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Default Pulled Pork - How I have learned from my BBQ family.

Itís getting closer to the season when more people start to BBQ, and those Christmas presents start getting used for the first time. Iím sure some questions will start coming in, and thought Iíd add how I smoke my pulled pork. Many of you are very seasoned smokers, and many of you Iíve gotten this advice from over the years. Iím hoping that this will give some of the newer folks a place to start or at least give them enough information to ask the right questions.

**This is in no way, the ONLY way it can be done. However, it has worked for me so far.**

First thing a lot of people ask is ďHow long does it take to finishĒ You have to get this thought outta yer head or rather NOT make it a priority. But we all need to know when the meat will be done approximately so we know when to start the other foods and tell everyone when it will be time to eat. So, if you use the 1.5 hr per lb. of meat guide not forgetting to add the time for resting AND time for pulling. That should give you a good starting point.

:ballchain: BUT DO NO LET YOUR GUESTS RUSH YOU. :ballchain:
You can spend all the time you want on a nice rub and sauce but if you donít smoke it Low and slow they might as well have ordered it from the joint down the street.

I try and find a nice cut, most often itís a Boston Butt (these usually have a very nice fat cap on them) I try and find them in the 9 lb. range. Since I usually always do more than one at a time, ( great leftovers for other recipes) I try and have them all about the same weight so they can smoke as evenly as possible.

At some point the day before (this is a choice, some people feel an hour or two is plenty of time for the rub to be on the butt prior to smoking) I take the butt and rinse it, Look for any of the blood clots or veins and remove them. After rinsing, I will pat it dry. Than I apply the rub of my choice for that day VERY liberally and work it into every surface area of the meat. At this point I wrap it in plastic wrap (nasty crap to work with, but a must) and put it back into the fridge till Iím ready for smoking.

The next day, I remove the butt an hour or so before Iím going to start smoking. Somewhere down the line Iíve read that the meat will smoke/cook more evenly if it doesnít start off cold. The explanation made sense to me so this is what I try to do. So, The buttís have been sitting covered on my counter an hour.

This is when I start my first chimney of coals and when they are ashed over I will put them in the side fire box and bring my smoker up to 225 degrees. Itís not always easy to maintain this temp and Iíve often done them at 250 degrees with some hotter spikes. Personally, I think this is fine but is surely where a lot of debate can come into play. When the smoker gets to a stable temp, I place the buttís in the smoker ( my choice is fat cap up) I wait an hour or so before inserting my thermometer at this point I will apply my first spritz or mop. If Iím spritzing (using a spray bottle) I use apple juice and bourbon, Mopping recipes are plenty also. Personally, the only time I spritz the meat is when Iím opening the smoker and try not to very often maybe every 1 hr to 1.5 hrs. when you add wood is a good time frame to use. Remember, every time you open your smoker your letting the heat out. So be prepared, have everything ready for when your going to open her up.

Many people will wrap their butts in foil at some point during the smoke, I never do. I believe itís done when the temp of the meat hits somewhere around 150 Ė 160 degrees. Iím sure someone will pipe in on this, hopefully explaining why. The reason that I donít is simply because I like a nice dark butt and keep wood smoke to it the entire time. ( this is strictly personal choice)

[Editor's comment]
The wrapping in foil facilitates the collection of the "Liquid Gold" The broken down collegens and fats that are typically defatted and mixed back into the meat after pulling and/or included in a finishing sauce. Also it MAY help finishing times, as the foil tends to help hold heat.

If foiling, be SURE to not have any leaks! Especially if you are going to towel wrap/cooler the puppy for a hour or so till serving time.

You meat will also reach a point, itís called ďThe PlateauĒ where the temps just refuse to climb. Guys this still gets me worried every time it hits and I have to fight the urge to stoke up the heat. FIGHT THAT URGE! This is a process of the meat breaking down. I canít explain it but itís easy enough to look up and find the answers. I believe, thatís enough for me. I usually notice this plateau hits when the temp reaches around 145 Ė 150 degrees but can be different at times. Trust that the temps WILL start to climb. This would be a good time to crack open a beverage of choice.

Ok, like Iíve said, I donít foil during the smoke. Once my buttís get to about 195 degrees, I take them off the smoker, wrap them in a heavy duty foil. (Iím not stingy, they get wrapped and re-wrapped) cover them with towels or blankets and put them in a cooler to rest. The length of time you let it rest in the cooler is up to your time schedule but should be at least 30 minutes. I try and work the rest period in my overall time so that I have a good 2 hrs of rest time. I have had them in a cooler for up to 4 hrs before and still have them at over 140 degrees when ready to pull apart) Believe me, the meat will still be hot. Hot enough to still burn your fingers as your pulling. Something that I picked up is that after I unwrap the butts, I will slide the bone out and break the meat up into the sections that it allows me to. Usually 3 or 4 sections that it breaks into, and let them sit a few minutes to cool. Pulling or breaking the meat up at this point is another preference thing. You can use a large fork, buy a tool sold for this or just use your fingers. Guys, I like the finger thing Itís Primal LOL and much easier for the samples that your surely going to be taking. ( 1 for them Ė 2 for me Ė 1 for them Ė 2 for me etc ) Iím usually full by the time the meal is ready and donít fix a plate till much later.

Once youíve pulled your meat, using a finishing sauce or some of your BBQ sauce mixed though out works well. I use a vinegar based finishing sauce and keep the BBQ sauce on the side for people to add the amount that they chose to use. The sauces that you use is a preference that you will need to discover on your own. Some store bought ones are fine, but play, experiment, try some of the ones our fine folks here have shared.

A lot of this information has come from different posts that Iíve read. You will find that there can be as many ways of doing the same cut of meat as there are folks smoking. Take the time to read thru old posts, and the responses. Youíll be glad that you did.

and now the trick is to keep them from pushing their way to the food. Keep em lined up.

If you've done enough they will get their share. and not wait to sit down to eat.

Thanks for reading, hope it helps someone get started.

[Editor comments]
And now that the basics are out of the way.... here's some other tips and techniques the pitmasters of S-M have contributed that can personalize your smoke:

Originally Posted by Walking Dude
I use a rub heavy in brown sugar. So a HEAVY, HARD Barq gets formed. So i foil at 170. One, to collect the juices, and the other reason, is to soften the barq. Before i started foiling, it took a jack hammer to bust up the barq, and was too hard to eat/enjoy. So, foiling remedies that problem.

After i foil, i put in the OVEN, at 250 till internals reach 200-205. I then wrap in blankets and put in cooler. I have "rested" the meat for up to 8 hours using this method, and the meat was STILL to hot to handle when pulling.

I also do NOT put ANY vinegar based finishing sauce on the meat, till just before serving, as the vinegar in the sauce will turn the meat into mush. Most of the time I let the person eating the meal put whatever kind of sauce they choose to, be it vinegar, or sweet sauce, whatever their preference.
Originally Posted by Capt Dan
Size doesn't matter, I have done 9 lbers and 6 lber right next to each other, often times they are done very close to the same time, on occasion, I have had the smaller butts in the batch, out last the larger ones. I do try to rotate certain ones around the cooker to keep the colors close to the same.

I like a darker, thicker, spicier bark, so I foil them later at 175-180.I like to capture the juices of the end of the smoke, I personally think the early juices are mainly fat, the end ones are actually running from the inside of the pork after the breakdown has occured.

and of course the Q-shot of the finished platter!

I do inject butts often, usually 3-5 ozs per butt, depending on size and how they hold the solution. If they are leakers, I won't waste as much injection.

I always inject and rub at least 8 hrs prior to smoking, but have done them up to 24 hrs early. Make sure you keep them cool while you trim, inject and rub, then get them back in the fridge asap. I also like to score my caps. Many of you know that this issue has been a topic of discussion over the past 12-15 months with me. I do believe that it does make a difference in taste and texture of the meat.

It definately makes a big difference in the ratio of fat to juice in the foil, the fat content was less with a scored fat cap.
I score them through the top cap( false cap) and thin layer of meat and well into or even through the second cap.

The subject of finishing sauces or bbq sauces is something that is up to the individual chef. I personally don't use a finishing sauce. The one I have tried in the past was a popular one at smf ,sflaquers sauce. It does make a huge difference on the taste of regular pulled pork. Since I spend the time to inject my butts, I do trap the juices and seperate after the cooler rest. I then spread those juices back into the pulled meat and also shake a few TBS of my pork rub into the pulled pork, mix with gloved hands and thats what works the best for me, and the folks I cook for.

Pork butts are fairly easy to smoke, and very cost effective. They last well in the fridge or freezer, and the things you can do to season them are endless. Each cook will be able to find a happy spot in their cooking method to make the best of these fine hunks of pig. When you do find a way that works the best for you, don't be afraid to tweek it just a bit. Little changes are best.

Originally Posted by Bbq Bubba
Fatcap down!
Cook at 275*
Stop all the "spritzing" ya sissies!
It's done when a probe slides in like buttah!
Some DO like the simplistic approach...right Bubba? ;{)

and the practical side...makes sense to me, as I'm a sausage maker as well-

Originally Posted by Gunslinger
That ain't no curve ball, this is.
I trim the fat cap. What do ya think about that?
Them butts have plenty of good veins of fat inside them. I do leave a little of the fat cap left on, but I make so much sausage, I treasure every bit of pork fat that comes my way.
I always smoke my butts above my beans, and trim the bark for the beans.
I also don't foil wrap. I use small enamel coated roaster pans and lids.
And here's a tip from Tip! I happen to like the mustard base before the rub myself...
Originally Posted by travcoman45
Ok, Rub with yellow mustard, cheap stuff.
Rub has moderate brown sugar.
Fat Cap up- Smoke at 250* Foil at 165* an pull at 190*

Spritz each hour with Slaughterhouse spritz, it ain't bein no sissie, it makes a difference that the customers notice!

Let rest at least 1 hour. Oh, ta save on towels I've gone ta usin personal size coolers fer the rest, buts snuggle in there real nice an they er easy ta clean. Pick em up at sales cheap.

Pull an add back defatted juice, that is, put the juices in a mason jar an inta the ice box, scrape off the layer a fat that forms an ya got liquid gold!

Iffin it's gonna get served right away, I add a finishin sauce. But if it's gettin froze fer later use I don't 'cause the vinegar tends ta wanna keep breakin down the meat, add it after warmin up.

I store it in vac bags, warm up by bringin a large pot a water ta a low boil, shut off the heat an put the bags in till there over 140*. Nice moist pulled pork.

So, there it is folks... somewhere contained in the above is YOUR perfect pulled pork smoke!

Thanks to all contributors, and of course to Texas-Hunter, for the great place to share all this!

Last edited by Richtee; 03-14-2009 at 12:36 PM. Reason: Additions

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