Pork Shoulder Fail

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by 1750shooter, Aug 14, 2014.

  1. 1750shooter

    1750shooter Newbie

    Been smoking for about 3 months - chickens great, ribs, great, 2nd(!) brisket really nice. Did a 5# shoulder yesterday - mustard & rub overnight, injected with apple juice, 6 1-2 hrs @ 250, internal temp of 190, took out, covered withfoilfor 45 min. Meat was dry with little taste, a little tough, & wouldn't "pull". Bark & fat cap tasted great, though. Any thoughts/suggestions on what went wrong? It's so bad I'm going to feed it to the dogs! Thanks.
  2. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You did everything right however,I would take your Pork to be pulled up to 205°, 190 is borderline , too low for pulling and maybe too high for slicing.

    The only thing that has me baffled is the DRY part, should not have been dry, are you sure it was cooked enough, sometimes if its too low of an IT it may appear dry because the magic has not begun (breakdown of the fat and connective tissue)

    Did you probe it in various spots?

    I'm leaning towards being undercooked.
    Last edited: Aug 14, 2014
  3. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    OH 2 more things

    1) Welcome to the forum

    2) hell with that dog RECYCLE.

    swoodze likes this.
  4. 1750shooter

    1750shooter Newbie

    Thanks, guys! You're exactly right. I started to cut it up for stir-fry or stew & it's still pink inside. Next time I'll go to 205* internal. It's surprising how much 15* differs.
  5. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Using a good digital temp probe helps a lot. I have a Maverick 733 and I don't know how I ever smoked without it. If you have a good temp probe, then your only problem was IT. When you get it to 205, it's fall off the bone pulled pork and pulled pork is GOOD. Also, find a good finishing sauce, NOT STORE-BOUGHT. Then, pull it and put it on a sesame seed bun, add a scoop of KFC coleslaw and several jiggers of Texas Pete Hot Sauce. Dang-it, now my shirt has drool on it.
  6. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Undercooked butts are often dry as the connective tissues haven't broken down yet.   You end up with stringy pork that is dry and hard to pull.  It's the same way with brisket.
    wkearney99 likes this.
  7. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yes I know that they are dry somewhat at a significantly lower internal temp but not dry enough to say it's going to the dogs at 190°,  I think more is going on here, the fact that he had an internal temp of 190° and states that it was dry.  If he had an actual Internal of 160° or lower I would then say yes its dry.

    Probing may have not been accurate...I get readings all over the place when checking IT

    I have had some juicy Butts at 190° ha ha juicy butts, I like that...

    Anyhow, there's more going on here than meets the eye, I am curious to hear from others if they have had dry buts at 190° ha ha dry butts that sounds funny too, anyhow I think a lot of guys have had juicy meat at 190° when slicing, OMG did I just say that, what I mean is that folks that are pulling at 185°-190° for slicing have had moister butts, damm there's no way around these verbal innuendos.

    My suggestion to the OP would be to check the probe for accuracy, probe all over the place and try foiling at 160° internal and bring the the internal temp up to 205°, foil, towel and rest an hour or so.

    After a successful cook, try it without the foil if preferred.
    Last edited: Aug 15, 2014
  8. Also check your probe for accuracy.  At 190F it shouldn't have been very "pink" inside.  Pull at 203F and wrap for an hour in foil and towels.  You will be happy happy
  9. I did a pork shoulder for about 6 hrs but couldn't get the internal temp over about 160, so I tossed it in the crock pot and finished it. Turned out pretty good. I don't think I ran the temp quite high enough while smoking it.
  10. alblancher

    alblancher Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member


    You simply didn't run it long enough.  Shoulders and butts have gone as long as 10 - 12 hrs for me.   I think you just got caught in a stall.  Next time you do a large chunk of pork like that be prepared for a loooooooong smoke.  Start with a full cooler of beer and and work your way through it!
  11. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Classic example of the stall. When butt hits approx. 160-170 degrees the moisture in the meat begins to evaporate more rapidly, causing the surface of the meat to cool. Kind of like when you sweat, and the internal temp will "stall" until enough moisture evaporates that the meat temp will again begin to rise. It can last for several hours.
  12. GM, is there a way to prevent that?
  13. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    Wrap in foil when it hits the stall, or cook at higher heat. I did my last one, a 9-pounder, at 285 that took 10 hours, no foil.
  14. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    There is NO WAY that meat was 190°F and still Pink. Pink pork is no higher that 140-150°F. So although edible a cut that is loaded with collagen like a butt would be tough and tasteless. The Thermometers measuring meat temp and Smoker temp need to be tested...JJ
    Last edited: Aug 27, 2014
  15. wolfman1955

    wolfman1955 Master of the Pit

    The last butts I did {two at 7-1/2# each} pit at 225 deg. hit 165 IT at about 6-1/2 hours and didnt reach 170 till 11 hours. They hit 200 at about 14 hours. So yes I would say you just needed to hang in there thru the stall.
  16. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Folks, if you are having time issues, don't be afraid to bump up the temp to 275 or so.

    If you like running at 225-250 that is fine, just start out higher like 275, for 2 hours then dial it down. Don't worry...the Low and Slow police wont beat down your door.

    I just worry some guys aren't getting through the danger zone quick enough.

    Don't probe your meat until after the first three hours.

    As grill monkey said, foiling will help you get through the evaporative process (stall).

    For the non-foilers don't be afraid to try this once you hit the stall and once the temp starts creeping up again you can remove the foil, and no one will know the difference, just make sure to delete the picture of your cook that shows the foil....

    If you get tired, run out of time, fuel or patience, toss in the oven or crock like greyfox done ...we wont tell, and again delete the pics of the crock pot when posting q-view... no one will know the difference.

    And ditto on what Al said, "Start with a full cooler of beer and and work your way through it!"   Not sure if he meant the cook or both but lets say BOTH!

    Dutch Oven Pulled Pork. Shhhhh!

    dada likes this.
  17. The stall killed me the first time around.  I naively thought after TEN HOURS the thing would be done...  Sat there for well over an hour and a half not moving from 160F.  Read up on the foil for next time and when it hit 160F I wrapped it and brought the egg temp up a bit.  Rose through the stall in about 30 minutes.  I'll trade compliments from the folks eating the results over taking flak online!

    But the key is definitely letting the meat get above 195F.  That's where the connective tissues in the meat start to break down.  This dumps their moisture back into the meat.  I find it's worked to foil it at the stall, let it get to 205F, take it off and let it rest for about a half-hour before attacking it with the bear paws.  Even with the breakdown of the tissues and the foil there really doesn't end up being much juice in the foil.  The hours spent smoking and the lack of holes really help the meat keep the juices inside.

    I'll likewise recommend the Maverick remote thermometer.  I've also got the Thermopen dual unit, but the Maverick's wireless remote is fantastic.  Best to put that probe in the meat at the start (in through the top to avoid draining anything).  Just be SURE it's good and clean before putting it in the meat.  You don't want to be poking more holes into the meat as that'll let moisture out.  That and opening the lid to do it wastes the heat, further slowing the process.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
  18. I should add, I double-check all my temps with a separate Thermopen (the fold-out stick kind) when the meat gets close to the desired temp.  This way I'm double-checking that the Maverick's readings are still as expected.  I find the Maverick's air temp tends to run around 5F cooler than the Thermopen wired sensor.  The meat probe tends to be within 3-5F.  Eventually probes fail so it's important to compare the results now and then to avoid problems.
  19. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Here is a breakdown of what happens to meat when heated and at what temp these changes take place. There are different types of Collagen and they breakdown at different temps. The collagen we are most concerned with is the Connective Tissue that holds the muscle fibers together. The temp that the Collagen that makes up Connetive Tissue denature is highlighted in Red below...JJ

    Info taken from...http://www.scienceofcooking.com/meat/slow_cooking1.htm


    105F/40C - 122F/50C  --Calpains begin to denature and lose activity till around 105F, cathepsains at 122F. Since enzyme activity increases up to those temperatures, slow cooking can provide a significant aging effect during cooking. Meat should however be quickly seared or blanched first to kill surface microbes.

    120°F/50°C -- Meat develops a white opacity as heat sensitive myosin denatures. Coagulation produces large enough clumps to scatter light. Red meat turns pink.

    Rare Meats:  120°F/50°C  is the early stages of juiciness in meats as the the protein myosin, begins to coagulate . This lends each cell some solidity and the meat some firmness. As the myosin molecules bond to each other they begin to squeeze out water molecules that separated them. Water then collects around the solidifyed protein core and is squeezed out of the cell by connective tissue. At this temperature meat is considered rare and when sliced juices will break through weak spots in the connective tissue

    140°F/60°C -- Red myoglobin begins to denature into tan colored hemichrome. Meat turns from pink to brown-grey color.

    140°F/60°C -- Meat suddely releases lots of juice, shrinks noticebly, and becomes chewy as a result of collagen denaturing which squeezes out liquids.

    Medium -- Well Meats:  Collagen shrinks as the meat tmeperature rises to 140/60 more of the protein coagulates and cells become more seggregated into a solid core and surrounding liquid as the meat gets progressively firmer and moister. At 140-150 the meat suddenly releases lots of juices, shrinks noticeably and becomes chewier as a result of collagen shrinkage. Meat served at this temperature is considered medium and begins to change from juicy to dry.

    160°F/70°C -- Connective tissue collagen begins to dissolve to gelatin. Melting of collagen starts to accelerate at 160F and continues rapidly up to 180F.

    Well Done Slow Cooked Meats:  Falling apart tenderness collagen turns to gelatin at 160/70. The meat gets dryer, but at 160F the connective tissues containing collagen begins to dissolve into gelatin. With time muscle fibers that had been held tightly together begin to easily spread apart. Although the fibers are still very stiff and dry the meat appears more tender since the gelatins provide succulence.

    NOTES: At 140°F changes are caused by the denaturing of collagen in the cells. Meat served at this temperature med-rare is changing from juicy to dry. At 160°F/ 70°C connective tissue collagen begins to dissolve to gelatin. This however is a very lengthy process. The fibers are still stiff and dry but meat seems more tender. Source:  Harold McGee -- On Food and Cooking

    Anatomy of muscle fiber
    [​IMG]  A muscle is completely enclosed by a thick sheath of connective tissue (the epimysium) and is divided into bundles of fibres by a connective tissue network (perimysium). Individual muscle fibres are bounded by a plasma membrene surrounded by connective tissue (endomysium) which consists of a basement membrane surrounded by a reticular later in which a meshwork of fine collage fibrils is embedded in a matrix. Tendons are elastic collagenous tissues.
    Source: Wikipedia  

    Scattered among the muscle fibers are fat cells which store energy for the muscles. Fat is crucial to meat texture. Waxy when it is cold, fat does not evaporate when you are cooking as does water. It melts and lubricates the fibers as they are getting tougher under the heat. Fat is also the source of much of the flavor in meat. As the animal ages the flavor compounds build up and get stronger. After the animal is slaughtered, the fat can turn rancid if stored improperly or too long.
    Last edited: Aug 28, 2014
  20. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Awesome Jimmy, can we sticky this somewhere?

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