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Pork didn't pull...

Discussion in 'Pork' started by bobbydrake, Oct 31, 2010.

  1. bobbydrake

    bobbydrake Fire Starter

    A few weeks ago I smoked a pork butt. I have done this many times without a problem. Temps were perfect, smoke was great, even my timing came down to +/- 3 minutes of my projected finish time. The problem was, when I went to pull the pork, it just didn't pull. The only thing I changed was I cooked it in a throw away aluminum pan I have seen several of you guys use before. It was tender and juicy and tasted fine, but it just did not wanted to pull apart. I ended up chopping it up with a knife. *gasp*Any guesses as to what might have gone wrong?
  2. raptor700

    raptor700 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    What temp did you finish at?
  3. yrrndsmoker

    yrrndsmoker Smoke Blower

    temp probe gone bad???
  4. adiochiro3

    adiochiro3 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I always take mine to 205* and they pull beautifully.  However, some seem to shred easily while others take more effort.  might have been that particular butt rather than technique.  Check your thermo for accuracy to be sure.
  5. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    Yup bad therm, always a good thing to have a few backups.
  6. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Several things are tickling my brain here, so I'll just break this down into a few sub-topics that you can think about...

    For pulling meats, the finish temp is pretty crutial, with upper 190's being the minimum (for most folks here) before resting in foil/covered pan wrapped in towels. Most prefer the low/mid 200's. Be sure the probe is relatively accurate with a water boil check.

    Here's some info on thermometers and a water boil-point temp chart for varied elevation/barometric pressures you can follow:


    Also, the amount of resting time for pulling meats can have a pretty drastic effect...I tried to rush a pulled shoulder once...only once...I think it was only about 45 or 60 minutes out of the smoker, and if I hadn't smoked it myself, I would have swore that it had only been taken to the 180-185* range...it was TOUGH...slicing tough, to be specific. I like to rest for at least 3 hours, with 4-5 being even more to your advantage...I'll even leave the probe in during the rest to watch the temp drop rate...if it stays above 160, you're still good to go, IMHO, and big cuts cool really slow when protected and insulated as described above...you want low & slow to cook, and low temp drop rates when it rests.

    Here's another issue I had over a year ago...I had two butts, one cryovac packed in their (packer's) brine, and one which was fresh/frozen that I thawed a few days in the fridge prior to smoking. The fresh butt would not pull, no way, no how. The cryovac packed was a dream...both smoked side by side and pulled to foil and bring to finish temps at 180* and pulled to wrap and rest @ 205*. I never would have guessed that brining would have such a huge impact on the tenderness of the finished product, but it did.

    I guess this is the question I have: Was this butt fresh with no brine, fresh that you brined yourself, or was it cryovac packed?

    Last edited: Nov 1, 2010
  7. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    For me I'm voting with the probe gone bad. I have done almost my weight in butts and I have never had one not want to pull. I shouldn't have said that........Now my next one won't pull for me. But I think that the meat wasn't done completely. Heck you might have even stuck the probe near the bone or a hunk of fat and it gave you a bum reading or something. Well slice this one now I do that from time to time. Man oh Man you talking about a good sandwich. Guve it a shot sometime. 
  8. Had to be the thermometer. I've never had one that I've taken to 195 or above that didn't fall apart.
  9. pit 4 brains

    pit 4 brains Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I've tried to rush them before and they didn't pull well. Now I set em and forget em..  Even after I get temps in the 200's, I'll let it ride a little longer and let it rest for an hour as well. I usually can pull the pork just by removing the bone it seems. I don't plan on eating pulled pork right out of the smoker anymore. It's usually an over-nighter for me these days with foiling for however long until time to serve..
  10. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I agree, they really need to go to 205 and rest for a while before you try to pull them 
  11. bigal

    bigal Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Boston butt has a built in therm to tell you when it's done.  Feel the bone and when it feels like it will pull out clean, it's done.  I don't even use a probe on a butt anymore and I've found high heat has no affect. 

    It's not the end of the world, you could put it back in the pan, back on the smoker at 225, add rub and some apple c. vinegar to taste and it will "soften" it up, I'm guess'n. 

    I bet it was still good, just different.[​IMG]
  12. bobbydrake

    bobbydrake Fire Starter

    Checked my probe, all good there.

    I smoked until 165 then foiled it.  Brought the temp up to 205 and put it in a cooler for about an hour.  And i tjust didn't want to pull.  I had taken a whole butt and cut it in half and didn't have the section with the bone.  I think the cut of the meat just didn't have enough fat in it to break down and easily pull.  It still tasted great though.
  13. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Sounds like you had things right and just got a weird piece of meat glad it tasted good
  14. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    That's what keeps smoking so much fun and challenging. Every piece of meat is different.