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Fresh Picnic came out tough - What happned

post #1 of 19
Thread Starter 
Last Saturday, (while trying to fight off the flue & I really was not feeling up to the project, but I had made the commitment...sooo...) I smoked over Mystique, a deboned 9* fresh Picnic …the flavors were great but the meat was tough & rubbery. I spritzed with beer about every 1½ hrs during the first 3hrs then switched to my usual mixture of Apple Juice, Rum & EVOO.

My usual rig is a Charbroil H2O Bullet Smoker…heated with a propane burner, that has a pan placed on top containing pieces of lump charcoal then wood chunks on top. Then above that, there is the water pan.

I was having temperature issues in the smoker most of the time…running somewhere between 230* – 260* (sometimes up to 280* briefly).

About halfway through the cook ….during a period of what I guess was insanity (hopefully only temporarily, lol) I removed the water pan from the smoker & continued cooking without it.

The intention was to take the pork to a slicing temp. of about 170* (but it did not seem to be getting any more tender. Because I was running out of time. I pulled the meat at 185* but it was still tough. I wrapped it in foil & towels, placed it in a cooler, hoping that it would soften up some during the ½ hr drive to the event…alas, no such luck.

Where did I go wrong….I suspect my cooking temperatures were too high….In the past I’ve tried to maintain teps. Between 215* – 230*

Is the water pan that critical? Were my temps too high? where did I go wrong?

Thanks for your help.
post #2 of 19
sounds like you didnt cook long enough in your smoker. it takes me 12 to 14 hours for 9 pound picnic roasts (butts) 3 to 4 hours is way to short cooking time.
post #3 of 19
The speed which the bigger cuts come up to temp can affect how well the meat breaks down a bit. Sooo yeah you CAN smoke too hot... but if you were around 250..that ain't bad. Also, you CAN just get a tough hunk. Use the "probe" test to gauge tenderness... slides in hard...still tough. Take it up another 10° and that should help.
post #4 of 19
I don't think you got your internal temp up high enough. Picnics are traditionally a pretty tough cut. I think if you brought it up to 210o over a longer period of time the results would have been much better. I don't think the water pan had much to do with it.
post #5 of 19
Been there and done that. Sometimes it can just be the cut of meat.
post #6 of 19
post #7 of 19
I'll second that. Internal temp doesn't always tell the whole story, but I don't even bother checking pork until it hits 195......usually somewhere between 195 and 205 seems to work for me.
post #8 of 19
Thread Starter 
Thank you all for your input.
post #9 of 19
Of the two shoulder cuts (butt and picnic), the picnic is the tougher of the two due in part to several different muscle groups and the related connective tissue.

I have smoked both picnics and butts and it seems to me that the picnics have a longer stall when going through the plateau. Just remember not to rush things by cranking up the heat and let the plateau do it's thing-breaking down that tough connective tissue.

post #10 of 19
Water pans help tenderrize the meat. Also, as a couple of people have said, you removed it too soon. You should allow an hour and a half per pound for a picnic. Try that at 240 degrees and refill the water pan as needed. That should produce a better picnic unles you just plain pick up a tough piece of meat.
post #11 of 19
I disagree....that is an old wives tale.
Is there a water pan in your Pitmaster?
The water pan is there merely for a heat shield and to add as a heat sink.
Thats why the only time you'll see pans are in Bullet and cabinet smokers.
post #12 of 19
^ Yep, what Bubba said. If you don't want to constantly refill the water pan with H2O, fill it with clean sand and cover it with foil so it doesn't become saturated with grease and become a fire hazard waiting to happen.
post #13 of 19
Thank's Dutch, I guess i should'a explained that too.
Sand in the pan will hold the heat better than water and no refilling or messy clean-ups! wink.gif
post #14 of 19
Here is a great thread from the archives that summarizes and expounds slightly more on some of the good points above:

post #15 of 19
I actually prefer the whole Picnic shoulder to the butt for pulled pork. I usually do 10-12 lbers and it takes just about every bit of 18hrs at 225 to get it to 195 (not always, but usually pretty close). I suspect that it was pulled to quickly.

I've pulled at 180-185 before, and was always disappointed with the tenderness. Never been unhappy at 195.
post #16 of 19
Always the historian......wink.gifcool.gif
post #17 of 19
Ya gotta admit.

It covers the butt vs picnic pretty well wink.gif
post #18 of 19
Yes it does!!
I love the classics! biggrin.gif
post #19 of 19
Great thread , thanks for digging that up , helped me learn a little more PDT_Armataz_01_37.gif
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