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Pulled Pork - 2nd time was not the charm, what went wrong ?

Deeds

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Summary: first cook got lots of juices in the aluminum pan I cooked it in, 2nd time no juice just alot of hard black crust no moisture anywhere. What did I do wrong ?

Currently using a propane masterbuilt sportsman elite (single door): cast iron pan instead of the old chip tray, and drilled hoes into half of the propane burner to try and reduce some of the heat (this model burns way too hot).

First time I tried pulled pork it was amazing: Cooked in an aluminium pan, basted with apple juice over top every hour or two, covered pan in foil after about 150-160 degrees. Pork came out great and lots of juices were left in the pan which I let cool, removed fat and mixed back in.

Yesterday I tried round 2: What happened was that at the end where I was expecting juice was just hard blackened crust all over the aluminium pan and there were no juices to be seen anywhere.

My cooking went as follows:

Trimmed fat cap (my first go round I left it all on)
Mustard rub, and added seasoning (jeff's seasoning), started smoker, added probes and started smoking at 7:30 am.
Smoke temp for most of day ranged between 210-250
After around 140 I started basting every couple hours with a 50/50 bourbon/apple juice.
around 160 i covered with foil (pretty lose covering - I probably should have made it tighter.
Filled water pan at start and half way through
Near the end I let the smoker get hotter as we go to the end, but still didn't over 280 in the last hour or so.

Differences between first and 2nd attempt:

First: Fat cap on / 2nd: trimmed fat cap
First: cooked on highest of two shelves / 2nd: cooked on lower shelf
First: Only Apple Juice, / 2nd: 50-50 apple juice and bourbon
First: Cooked on a day with temp above freezing / 2nd: temperature outside was between -18 to -6 degree Celsius.
First: Didn't rush the finish / 2nd: let the temperature rise from 240 up to around 275 or so during the last hour or so of cooking.

Currently what I will try next time is: leave fat cap, cook on highest shelf, fill water tray more often (with hot water - I have been using cold). Only apple juice.

Any idea what I did wrong with the 2nd one that left me with no juices ?
 

zwiller

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Did you measure IT when you pulled? MUST be 200F or so. I aim 205F. Not uncommon to stall 4-5 hours 180ish +/-. An 8lb butt takes me 15hrs on average at 275F.
 

smokerjim

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sounds like your smoker just got to hot and cooked up all your juices. you don't have a hole in your juice pan do ya.
 

pineywoods

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You answered your own question first one you left the fat on second one you removed it.
Your plan for the next one is fine cold or hot water doesn't matter if you preheat the smoker. What rack doesn't matter as long as you have the smoker temp probe on that rack.
 

Deeds

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sounds like your smoker just got to hot and cooked up all your juices. you don't have a hole in your juice pan do ya.
I put water in it after an didn't see a leak, but leak may have sealed late by some of the burnt crust that formed form the juice. This was a thought I had.

This smoker is a pain to maintain heat, but I try and keep it in 210 - 250 range.
 

Deeds

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You answered your own question first one you left the fat on second one you removed it.
Your plan for the next one is fine cold or hot water doesn't matter if you preheat the smoker. What rack doesn't matter as long as you have the smoker temp probe on that rack.
So the fat cap adds alot to the juices that would end up in the pan. I was thinking this may have been my mistake. I think next time I may leave it, but score it a little. Thanks for the feedback.
 

jcam222

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I’d agree that removing the fat cap was the problem for sure. I may trim mine down a little if excessive but usually I don’t trim them at all. That fat is delicious.
 

dave17a

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You answered your own question first one you left the fat on second one you removed it.
Your plan for the next one is fine cold or hot water doesn't matter if you preheat the smoker. What rack doesn't matter as long as you have the smoker temp probe on that rack.
:emoji_thumbsup: Don't want xtra fat , take it off later
 

pineywoods

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So the fat cap adds alot to the juices that would end up in the pan. I was thinking this may have been my mistake. I think next time I may leave it, but score it a little. Thanks for the feedback.
Yes the fat rendered and so you had lots of juices in the pan which you said you de-fatted and added back to the meat which added flavor and moistness to the finished product.
You also said you foiled with juice in the pan this will allow the butt to braise in it's own juices which will also make it more tender. If I read correctly you foiled the second time as well but you didn't have the liquid to help allow it to braise in it's own juices.

If you like the crispy bark you could smoke with the fat cap on and not baste or foil this should allow for more bark formation then foiling but still maintain moistness by leaving the fat cap on until after the smoke when you go to pull it. If you placed a pan under it to catch the juices go ahead and de-fat them and add back in after pulling.

Experiment a bit and see which way you like best everybody's tastes are different so find what suits you and your family best.
 

smokerjim

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if you want to trim the fat off, you could put the fat in a foil pan with holes in the bottom and set it above the butt so the juices will drip on the butt and still get some in the pan below, check out bearcarvers step by steps (double smoked ham) this is what he does with his hams, but it will work with your butts also. just a thought!
 

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