Pulled Pork Experiment...180* Temp Hold to Finish: qview

Discussion in 'Pork' started by forluvofsmoke, Jun 11, 2010.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Today's experiment is a continuation of a theory I have about finishing temps. Instead of taking the internal temps of the meat to over 200*, I feel a longer soaking at lower temps to finish will get the job done just the same, without exposing the meat's interior to such high heat.

    I've used the temp hold method to finish meats after foiling to steam many times with good results, only at 200* temps for 10-12 hours, instead of 180* for over 18 hours as I used for today's project.

    I smoked this butt to an internal temp of only 150* in 8.5 hours, then panned and tented with a cup of water and held at 180* for 23 hours, and here's the resulting finished product.........

    After smoking to 150*:

    After the 23 hour temp hold @ 180*...internal probed @ 174-176*:

    The bone wouldn't pull out in one piece...the exposed end just kept crumbling between my finger and thumb until I worked on it for a bit and got it to pull out...the last time I've seen a large bone disintegrate like this was from the slow brazed beef stew like my Mom made when I was kid:

    Moisture was slightly below average from the previous times using this method, as I used less water than I should have, but still had the liquids in the pan to toss into the PP for a finishing sauce after de-fatting it. Also, I didn't plan on doing the temp hold for the 23 hours...everyone got together for dinner a few hours later than I anticipated. 18 hours or less would have sufficed to accomplish this task.

    So, this proves it to me that I no longer have any reason to reach high internal temps for pulled meats. When I saw the bone crumbling in my fingers, I knew I had accomplished something very different than you would with a normal foil/steam/resting method to finish the PP.

    Thanks all!

  2. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    My question would be why would you want to spend that much time smoking a butt? I can smoke a butt in 12 to 14 hours that is as moist and juicy as you could want. I'm not sure I'm understanding the benefit in smoking something that long. The info I've read says that the tenderizing portion of smoking a chunk of tough meat is above the 180 degree internal mark. I have cut down the heat and let a piece of meat smoke longer under certain circumstances (went to bed) and found that I can actually have a very tender piece of meat that hasn't reached that 195 internal but has been held at a lower internal longer and is fall apart moist. I'm just not understanding why you would want to spend that much time smoking a butt. Not being critical... just curious.
  3. caveman

    caveman Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    You know Eric, I like the fact that I don't have to ever in this life, eat dried out pork anymore.  I looked at the differences from photo 1 to photo 2 & I was a little surprized.  The shrinkage is killer & out here on the West coast, we pay much more for meat than opposed to the midwest or the south.  (Not too sure about prices in the south but I know everytime I see someone not on the West coast with a good score, I get jealous.)  I know that in order to have a successful smoke, you need to start with a good cut of meat, whether that is Pork or Beef.  Now, in my neck of the woods, we have an abundant amount of grocery chains but I have found my best cuts at a butcher located 16.5 miles from me.  I guess my concern is for those that don't understand shrinkage, keeping them away from the actual smoking process.  (It's been so long since I've prepared a roast of any type in the oven, that I can't remember the ratio of shrinkage to the pound of purchase.  I think my oven is lonely.)

    Again, Thank you for the successful experiment & sharing with us. 
  4. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    My understanding of the actual tenderizing period during cooking is that the period of time which normally is the plateau (stall) is when the connective tissues are melting. I read somewhere that this occurs at approx. 156-164*F (if I remember correctly). Heck, I can't remember where I read this, either. An SMF thread possibly, or a USDA web page.

    This was just an idea I've been playing around with for doing my smokes early and then being able to hold the meat at temp over longer periods. It fits into what I can plan on being able to do better sometimes, as I may not be able to smoke, foil and rest, and have the meat ready when I want it done. This way, it allows me to start the smoke much earlier than necessary and have it ready whenever we want. Basically, it gives me a much larger window of opportunity, and I don't have to sweat it when I can't start the smoke at the optimum time.

    Besides, there can be many factors which can delay the finish of a smoke (weather or other unforeseen circumstances), and this method can remove most of these possible issues from the equation, for the most part, as it allows me much extra time if any problems do arise, to get everything finished on time.

  5. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yea, that bone was really poking out alot after that long soak in steam...150* internal when I stopped the smoke and panned/tented, and then bringing it up to the mid 170* range removes quite a bit more moisture.

    As far as the cut of meat, it just depends on what you really want to accomplish, and if you are willing to go the extra steps to make it happen. If I want a nice sliced beef, then the leaner cuts of Round or Sirloin work great. For pulled meats, the easiest way to go is with a cut containing much more interior fat, which helps to baste the meat as it cooks from the inside out.

    A chuck, for example, makes great pulled beef without much fuss at all, or if you want to slice it, you can, you just have to work around the fat deposits and some tougher tissues in the roast for the best eating.

    As for pulling leaner cuts, most will tell you that it's not a good idea to use a lean cut and deliberately attempt to pull the meat, as it can become very dry by the time it reaches what is considered to be pulling temps. Using the above method, I believe you can pull any species (turkey, chicken, beef pork, wild game of all kinds), as long as the meat is held at lower temps for longer periods after smoking to the desired internal temp, while kept in a moist environment where it can steam slowly.

    I have done pulled beef from a brisket flat more often than I've ever sliced it using this method...people who know anything about cooking a brisket think I'm nuts for trying it, but it does work. I you ever want to try something crazy and different, that will give you a whole new perspective on how meats can be prepared...it's like playing tricks on mother nature, and getting away with it!!!!!!!!! LOLOLOL!!!!!!!!!

  6. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hey if you have the time........

    Of course I like to eat the same day. [​IMG]
  7. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member


     That is a very interesting way of smoking . Not that i would have / take the time to do it.

     But i do understand the principal behind it.
  8. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yea guys, I know this seems like an excessive amount of time to finish a smoke. I've played with the idea just for the sake of being able to get those longer smokes finished when I want them ready...being able to start it really early, just because timing would be an issue...then when you pan/tent to steam, just slowing the cooking WAY down to nearly a standstill...it can buy you lots of valuable time in some cases.

    This experiment was pushing the extremes pretty hard, being in the 180* steam for 23 hours after pulling from the open grate smoking @ 150* I/T. I only planned for about 18 hours and ended up with 23 instead. But that just goes to show how versatile and flexible this method can be. If I had known exactly when we would be dinning the following day, I could have started the smoke 8-12 hours later than I did, but it would have been a late night start on the smoke. This allowed me to start the smoke late in the morning, pull to pan/tent in the evening, and steam when I wanted to spend some time here on the forums and still get a decent night's sleep...once the steaming starts, that's when the true set it & forget process begins.

    It's just a good alternative for still being able to pull off a good smoke, eating it when you're ready (not when the meat's ready), not having any worries about finish times or being interrupted during critical stages in the smoke. It works out great for me when too many variables could get in the way of a potentially successful smoke.

    Last edited: Jun 12, 2010
  9. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I'm with everyone here to with the WHY question too. If I can get it done in 10-12 hours and it being all tender and juicey I'm gonna do it in a shorter time. Then you have the bone falling apart like that would scare me. If I forgot a chunk of it in the meat and someone choked on it. Now then I would feel really bad.
    Last edited: Jun 12, 2010
  10. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I hadn't thought about the bone fragments being a possible issue, but then, I'm pretty meticulous about my food prep. I guess I separated the bone & meat, took a few pics of the resulting bone fragments, and when straight to the trash can with the bone, then pulled the meat and pitched out the remaining connective tissues that showed up during pulling. I guess it's just a habit of mine to take it one step at a time so nothing is left for chance.

  11. pignit

    pignit Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Ron turned me on to the slow overnight smoking in the MES. I will get a butt started around 6 or 7 in the evening and put smoke to it for about 4 hours then I put it in a pan and cover tightly with foil. Set the MES to 195 and off to bed. When I get up at 9 I pull it out and wahla..... I've got tender juicy fall off the bone pulled pork. I've noticed if I let it go to the extreme on the slow smokin end I have a mushy grainy texture. That happens when you boil meat to long in a stew also... becomes grainy. I have noticed that when I leave it to smoke overnight with a set temp of 195 that even though the internal may be at only 185 or 190.... it is just as tender as it would be at 200. I think it has something to do with the lower temp over a long period of time.

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