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Pork didn't pull...

bobbydrake

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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?
 

adiochiro3

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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.
 

meateater

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

forluvofsmoke

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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:

http://www.hi-tm.com/Documents/Calib-boil.html  

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?

Eric
 
Last edited:

mballi3011

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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. 
 

smokinstevo27

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Had to be the thermometer. I've never had one that I've taken to 195 or above that didn't fall apart.
 

pit 4 brains

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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..
 

scarbelly

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

bigal

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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.
 

bobbydrake

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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.
 

pineywoods

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

SmokinAl

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

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