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Pulled Pork - Help!

mitchelld1

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Hi everyone.  Need to do a post mortem on a half Boston butt I smoked today.  This was a 10lb butt the butcher cut in half.  The half I bought came in at just under 5 lbs and was boneless.  I smoked it for 9.5 hours at a temp that ranged from 200 to 230.  I have a Great Smokey Mountain vertical charcoal/water smoker.  It is very similar to the Brinkman and GrillPro models.

The intent was pulled pork but what came out was of a similar texture to a tender grilled pork chop or loin.  Definitely not pulled pork.  I've been smoking for about 5 years but I mostly stick to short duration smokes like ribs, chicken/turkey breasts, fish, brats etc and I do those well. But this is my 2nd attempt at pulled pork and I have not gotten it right either time.  First time was actually a little closer.

I would appreciate some thoughts on what might have gone wrong.  I have read that cooking time is 1.5 hours per pound but I've also read others that say it is closer to 2 hours a pound.  Are mine cooking too long or not long enough?  Unfortunately I did not have a meat thermometer in so I cannot say what temp it was at when I took it out.  I took it out, rested it for about 15 minutes and we dug in.

As a side note my wife can put a 3 pound pork loin in the crock pot for 8-10 hours and it falls apart when you pull the lid off and stare at it.
 

ak1

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When I do mine, I let it get to 165-170 internal, then foil and let it go to 205-210, then wrap it in towels and let it rest in a cooler for at least 1 hr before pulling. 

It sounds to me that the temp didn't get high enough. 

Usually I smoke a butt for 15-16 hrs.
 

tyotrain

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What was the internal Temp of the meat.. To have pulled pork i like to have a internal temp of around 200F than let it rest for a hour... sound like maybe you didn't reach a high enough Temp..  When i do pulled pork i will bring the meat to around 165-70 than foil it put back on the pit till i get my target temp.(200F). Hope this helps
 

double rl

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FYI I ,smoked a butt yesterday and it took about 12 hours.I dont smoke on a time table butt I use a temp table,195 to 200 depending on the size of the butt.I think if you would try that your sucess would be a little better.Great smoking Double RL
 

dirtworldmike

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Agree with the other posts, It probably didn't reach a high enough IT. (200 degrees or above.) All is not lost, you can finish it off in the slow cooker for a few hrs.
 

mitchelld1

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Is it possible I overcooked it?  What if the internal temp was say 220 the last hour or two?  Would that make it turn out as I described?  Another follow up question, what has to happen to make the meat break down inside so that it falls apart.  From what you all have said, the pork needs get to 165, wrap it, then get to 200/205.  But the trick is to get it there slowly right?  So is there a general rule of thumb that you need to it to take x hours to get to 200 degrees?  Does the 1hr rest period after it reaches 200 degrees contribute to the tissue breaking down or is that just so it cools off enough to handle easily?  Sorry for the dumb questions - I want to get this figured out for next time.  
 

cliffcarter

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The first thing you need to do before you cook the other half of that butt is buy a meat thermometer. I suspect that you didn't cook it long enough, if you had cooked it too long it would have fallen apart. It may help to get your temps up to the 220°-240°F range, also.
 

SmokinAl

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I agree with the rest of the comments, it wasn't cooked long enough. You have to go by internal meat temp, not time. For pulling you should be around 205 IT. Get a good therm & I'm sure the other half will come out fine. There is NO way to do this by time. 
 

dirtworldmike

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The resting period continues the tissue break down. It also redistributes the juices back into the meat.
 

eman

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Have to agree w/ the others , it's all about the internal temps.

  There are folks that have done many butts on their smokers and can pretty much say, a butt on my smoker at Y temp  will take X ammount of time to get done. but that comes w/ alot more experiance than i have.
 

reardenreturns

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I'd agree with all of these post. A meat thermometer is a MUST HAVE item! Let it get to 165-170* then double wrap in foil then bring it up to at least 200 (if not 205). Then let it rest, while still wrapped, for at least an hour. It will make a huge difference and be just like you like it. Good luck!
 

ak1

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Is it possible I overcooked it?  What if the internal temp was say 220 the last hour or two?  Would that make it turn out as I described?  Another follow up question, what has to happen to make the meat break down inside so that it falls apart.  From what you all have said, the pork needs get to 165, wrap it, then get to 200/205.  But the trick is to get it there slowly right?  So is there a general rule of thumb that you need to it to take x hours to get to 200 degrees?  Does the 1hr rest period after it reaches 200 degrees contribute to the tissue breaking down or is that just so it cools off enough to handle easily?  Sorry for the dumb questions - I want to get this figured out for next time.  
I don't think it was overcooked. Simply because, once temp is reached it will shread apart nicely. If you go beyond that point and overcook the meat, it still shread's nice, but the meat isn't tender.

That's my experience at least.
 

jirodriguez

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Also if you can get a dual probe digital thermometer that would be best. Then you can use one of the probes to tell what the true temps are at the grate level. The thermometers that come stock on almost all smokers are generally crap and can be off by 50-100 degrees!
 

jakerz66

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The first thing I learned was temp not time when slow cooking internal temperature is the secret to good BBQ.....and always let the meat rest so the juice stays in the meat and not all over the board. Listen to the experts and get a good thermometer.
 

ellymae

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When I do s butt (or anything for that matter) I take the meat our of the fridge about the same time I get the Egg fired up then I apply the rub.

Once the Egg gets up to about 230 degreed I put the meat on and make sure it returns to temp.

I leave it alone till the internal temp gets to about 190 - 195 and I start probing the meat. For me it's Time, Temp, and tenderness - the last part is to test it - it's not done till a probe slodes in like a hot knife through butter - typically around 200 - 205.

When figuring out how long I think a cook will take I figure 1.5 hours/pound then add at least two hours.

Once the meat is ready to go (temp and tenderness) I wrap the meat in foil and towels and put it in a warm, dry cooler to let the juices redistribute. IT will stay hot in there for hours.

Good luck!
 

forsenpork

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I usually smoke butts around the 7-9 lb range.  This is my method:

I place my butt in an aluminum pan on the smoker at 225-250 degrees for about 4 hours (adding Apple/Oak every hour) or until the internal temp gets to 150-160 degrees.  Then I cover the pan with double foil.  At this point I increase the temp inside smoker to around 325 for another 4 hours or until it reaches internal temp of 205-210.  I then remove pan from smoker and let the butt sit in pan for about hour until I pull the meat.  This being said, the best advice for you is to go to Academy Sports and get one of them ten dollar battery operated temperture probes so you will know what the internal temp is during the smoke.

bf 
 

bbqking

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I just did (4) 8 pounder's this past weekend. They took almost 22 hours to reach 195-205 IT. I agree with the other posts, the IT didn't get high enough (195-205) to pull easily. Definitely make the small investment in a digital thermometer. Because of the plateau, you can't predict by time alone but I use 1.5/2.0 hrs per pound for estimation purposes only. It's not a bad thing if it's done sooner than later because you can leave it rest for a couple of hours and still have warm, tender, easily pulled pork. There's nothing worse than trying to anticipate when it will be done by time only and having your dinner guests arrive only to find that dinner needs another few hours!
Good luck with the other half and happy smokin'!

Kent
 

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