I made a really good...but not great Pork Shoulder yesterday (tips?)

Discussion in 'Pork' started by johnnysou, Aug 12, 2013.

  1. First off, let me say that this is my first post and I am a newbie to the site.   I'm looking forward to a great experience over time with this community.  :)

    I smoked my first boneless pork butt yesterday and it was delicious, but just a little tougher than I had hoped.   I would love any feedback on improvements for next time.  

    Here is my post mortem of the process:

    * It was a small 3 1/2 pound roast

    * I generously applied a dry rub consisting of brown sugar, Kosher salt, Lawry's seasoning salt, cayenne pepper, black pepper, and a little premixed dry rub mix from Austin, Texas' Salt Lick BBQ.

    * I put the roast with rub in a bowl and covered overnight in the refrigerator

    * I smoked in a horizontal (side firebox) smoker with pecan and hickory for 7.5 hours maintaining a temp window of 190-225.  

    * I pulled it off when it hit 175 degrees (this is where I suspect I made my error) because I feared that taking it to 190 would dry it out.  

    * I let it rest for about 20 minutes before cutting into it

    It tasted magnificent and everyone loved it.  The bark was especially tasty.   However, I found it to be a little tougher in the center than I had hoped.   I have had super tender pulled pork before and this wasn't it.   Thanks for any thoughts on making it better for next time.


    Here is a pic of the roast a few hours before I pulled it off of the smoker.

  2. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

    Next time take it to 190*-200*, at about 190* start checking for tenderness by probing with a toothpick or other probe. When it slides in with no resistance like going into warm butter is is ready. It won't dry out, butts and shoulders have enough fat in them that they have plenty of natural juices to keep them moist.
    johnnysou likes this.
  3. jirod

    jirod Smoke Blower

    The first couple I did I did the same thing.  That was when you were supposed to cook pork to like 160-165, so I cooked them till like 170 or so, and had to chop them because they wouldn't pull.

    Did some reading and found out to go to like 200-205.  Tried it, and they come out great now.  Like the other reply said, there is enough fat in a pork butt it shouldn't dry out.  At 200-205 all the fat and connective tissue (as it's been explained to me) break down and release more moisture into the meat.  Somone can probably give you a more scientific answer, but it stays moist and becomes sweet at that 200-205 temp.

    Good luck and keep at it. 
  4. kathrynn

    kathrynn Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    [​IMG].....I take mine to about 195-200.  You will find that it makes all the difference in the world!  Will be fall apart tender.

  5. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Jirod is mostly correct. Connective tissue is a protein that does the bulk of it's break down to Gelatin at 180*F. The time it takes to go from 180 to 200 gets the job done. Beyond 205*F the breakdown is so extensive that the meat takes on a mushy consistency. This is true for beef as well. For instance Beef Chuck is taken to 200*F and pulls nicely. Beef Brisket we want tender but sliceable so we take it to 190*F. The 170*F you pulled at is fully cooked and would be great sliced thin hot or cold but with the exception of the outer 1" or so never got above 180*F...JJ

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