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Pulled Pork... Best time to foil? and more importantly WHY??

Discussion in 'Pork' started by jstanford, Sep 25, 2010.

  1. jstanford

    jstanford Fire Starter

    Think I know the answers but you guys are the professionals, got one waiting in the fridge for tonights marathon smoke-a-thon
  2. I'm by no means the professional or even as experienced as the other folks here however I foil are around 165 or so (no earlier then 160) and leave it foiled till it hits 200 or above. Then it gets wrapped in towels and finds a nice resting spot in a empty cooler.

    Why? I think it speeds the process along a little bit but more importantly I think the meat is more tender when completed. The down side is the bark isn’t really “crunchy” as it get’s softened up by the juices as well. When I foil I’m prone to put just a little extra moisture in the foil like a little apple juice or maybe a touch of beer. Really depends on my mood and what I have around.
  3. miamirick

    miamirick Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    i believe when you foil it trapps in the juice, (add some apple juice) and makes the meat more tender in the end,  butt you do lose the crust in the process
  4. rdknb

    rdknb Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I agree that the foiling may make it a bit more moist, but for me I so love the bark that I do not foil.  I suggest you try it both ways and pick the one that suits you.

  5. pandemonium

    pandemonium Master of the Pit

    i dont foil either and they come out plenty juicy
  6. meateater

    meateater Legendary Pitmaster SMF Premier Member

    I foil at 160*-165* and take it till 200* then let it rest
  7. bacardi

    bacardi Fire Starter

    Meat cannot absorb much smoke after 140f, I would foil at around that temp.  My most recent butt, I smoked until 145f, and brought the butt inside and finished in a 5qt crockpot.  A covered crockpot is very close to foiling.  It's also well insulated, so at your desired temp of let's say 200f, you cut the heat and now you're in the resting stage, right in the crockpot compared to dirtying up a cooler.  You can even pull your pork right in there and after it's done, if your crockpot has a warm setting, when you're ready to serve your guests, turn it to warm.
  8. jstanford

    jstanford Fire Starter

    I'm more confused now?!?!?! The question lives on
  9. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member

    Meat will absorb smoke as long as you apply smoke to it . The smoke ring quits forming at around 140 degrees F.  if you wrap in foil and use towels for insulation ,You shouldn't dirty a cooler. Foil at 160 -165 w/ some liquid and back on the heat till 200+ .Wrap in heavy foil into an ice chest insulated w/ towels or a blanket for at least an hour and it should stay hot for 4 or 5 hrs.

     If you want a crusty bark skip the foiling and just smoke to 200 degrees and let rest for 1 hr then pull
    Last edited: Sep 28, 2010
    BigRyGuy likes this.
  10. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    I agree with the "foil at 165˚" crowd, but "RdKnB" said it best in---"I suggest you try it both ways and pick the one that suits you."

    grillard likes this.
  11. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    For your first time foil at 165-170, take the internal temp to 200-210°, rest it for 1-2 hrs., pull and enjoy!!

    Once you feel you have a good handle on them try one unfoiled. Main thing is it will take a lot longer unfoiled, but the bark is quite good - also when you cook unfoiled lower your cooking temps to 210-220.

    Remember you rub flavor is primarily on the outside of the meat, so don't be afraid to "go big" on the flavor, once it is pulled and all mixed together it will even out the flavor across the entire thing.
  12. jstanford

    jstanford Fire Starter

    When using my Charcoal Smoker, The pork turned out great, now that I'm using a propane smoker and able to dial the temp to 225 on the nose, It takes FOREVER to get to temp, My pork this weekend never hit above 170 and I had to serve it like that..... With the charcoal, i would get temp spikes all the time 250,300,200,etc and it cooked in 6-8 hours and tasted GREAT.... I'm beginning to wonder if the perfect temp is my achilles heel. Yes, I have calibrated the thermometers
  13. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    Foil at 140*? Don't like any bark?  It's been my experience that it takes 3 to 4 hours to reach 140*, not really a lot of time to develop much bark.  And usually that's just about long enough to get a spritz or two in.  Do you wrap  yours at 140*?  How does resting a double foil wrapped butt, in two towels, dirty up a cooler?  There may be some rare situation that comes up causing someone to finish in an oven or crockpot as you suggest, but IMO, shouldn't be the norm.  If it is the norm, might as well start it in the crock and get you some liquid smoke and give a neighbor the smoker.  Just sayin.  [​IMG]

    I've been bumping my propane smoker up to about 240* for butts.  As someone else mentioned to me before on here, 225* is good for ribs.  At 225* it does take time to reach temps, for example my last butts I done 2, 9 pounders, one finished in 11 hours and the other 12 hours and this was at 235* to 245*.   Previously at 225* a 9 pounder could take me upwards of 15 hours.  I've went back to foiling mine at 165* because I had difficulties getting out of the stalls on 3 or 4 straight smokes.  As others suggested, try both ways and see what works best for you. 
  14. deannc

    deannc Master of the Pit

    JS - as you know, smoking a pork butt is a time consuming adventure...it's filled with a lot of fat and connective tissue and could take hours to render the fat and breakdown the connective tissue.  A good planning figure is 1 1/2 to 2 hours a pound, low and slow.  The pay off is usually very worth the time invested..

    As for why some folks use foil, bottom line I think is that it accelerates the cooking process.  I respect those who don't use it, as I've said, I've tried a few attempts without it and dealt with major stalls, so I choose to use it.  But foil traps heat and moisture around the meat, accelerating the rendering of fat and the breakdown of connective tissue into soft gelatin. 

    The downside to foiling is that the bark softens and won't be as chewy.  I have recently read an article that after taking the butt up to 190* or so in foil, unwrap it, put it back in the smoker to take it up to 200*-205* which will dry the bark back out.  You would then either wrap again or cover in a foil pan to rest an hour.  I have not tried this method yet, however, it's on my short list.  
  15. jstanford

    jstanford Fire Starter

    I feel better about bumping up to 240 or so, I can invest all the time I need to but I was concerned about it taking sooooo long compared to my textbook smokes on the charcoal when I was able to baby sit it... A luxury I don't always get. I will continue to use the propane smoker with the advice you all have given me. I am confident that I will be showing some Q-Views of my smokes to come but i'm in the learning stage right now.... What's the worst that can happen, you still get to eat your mistakes! Gotta love that
  16. dick foster

    dick foster Smoking Fanatic

    I don't foil at all unless I'm putting it in a cooler and stalling for time until it's time to eat or something. I don't pull it out of the smoker till it's 190 min to a max of 200 or so. It's solely a time till dinner type of thing with me.

    When I get the meat done and ready to pull roughly at the same time we plan to eat, I just put a foil hat or cover over it for 30 mins or so to slow down the temp loss while the juices redistribute. After that it's pull it and dig in.  
    Last edited: Sep 29, 2010
  17. scarbelly

    scarbelly Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I agree with Bear on this. Most importantly don't forget the qview and to send a sample to the two of us for uh "quality control" is what we call it this week
  18. thunderdome

    thunderdome Master of the Pit

    Ok...has anyone ever tried to

    Smoke to 165. Then foil to 200, then take out of foil, apply some more rub, and put back on the smoker till 210? Seems like you might get a nice extra bark sorta burnt ends style
  19. Bearcarver

    Bearcarver SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Group Lead OTBS Member

    Hmmm, That's a great idea. It might have to go back in a pan, because of it wanting to fall apart by then, but it sure sounds like a good idea!

  20. Man has been cooking meats with fire for almost a Million years...."Modern Day" BBQ (whole Hogs etc) is usually traced back to Colonial times...400 plus years ago...generally in/to the Carolina Colonies..  To my knowledge the use of tin foil in BBQ (As A Crutch) is a modern "fast food" practice..only being in place for maybe 3 or 4 decades. ~~ Only in very recent history does man need, a Roll of Tin Foil, A Pound of Brown Sugar, A Quart of Apple Juice, Swaddling Clothes, and a 48 Quart Igloo Cooler to Cook ..XYZ....(You fill in the blank)

    When to foil? Don't!! ...  Learn to Cook instead.

    Why Foil?... Other than the obvious..I don't have a clue. 

    cowgirl, dick foster and smokin jaynh like this.