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Pulled pork - not all muscle ready at the same time

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Joined Jun 9, 2021
It is the second time that this happen to me. Basically, I start with a 10 pound pork shoulder (pork butt without bone - that is what is available here, not my call).

Setup:
Akorn (i.e. "metal kamado")
Deflector plate on
11 hours on the cooker
250-275F for the entire cook (digital grill thermometer)
Cooking fat side up
No wrap
No spritz
No opening the lid for those 11 hours.

Problem:
After all that time, the pulled pork is ready pretty much everywhere, except for a large muscle (I don't know its name, but is is at the opposite of the fat cap - I would call it under if fat cap up). The pork is pulling really well, its moist, tasty and everything, except for that tough muscle that I need to chop. My final temperature is 190F-195F everywhere except at that stubborn muscle where it stall at 180F. The stubborn muscle is directly on the grill when I cook.

I would like to not have to chop the tough muscle, and have it render like the rest of the shoulder.

Questions:
Have you ever experience that?
What was your solution?

Thanks.
 

jcam222

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I cook to around 203F for butts. Cool the part you have issue with to that temp. If the rest is a bit higher shouldn’t be an issue. Also with that boneless I like to round it out and tie it with twine so there are really thin pieces finishing early or burning.
 

SmokinEdge

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200* + but probe to tender. When the probe goes in like budda and you are around that 200* number, you are done. Never cook to time only. The temp is a zone, 195-210* the probe will tell all for tender.
 

Dutch

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With my boneless butts, I butterfly them so that they are thinner - just basically following the seam between the muscle group. Apply rub to both sides and run them on the smoker around 250°-270°. On the pieces that don't want to pull easily, I just set a side and chop it up and add it to the pulled meat.
Keep in mind that a pork butt and a pork shoulder are different cuts from the front leg. Typically the pork shoulder has part of the front hock and the skin (rind) still on. In the pork shoulder there is a muscle that defies pulling no matter how long you cook it. This muscle always needs to be chopped. I've been out of butchering for so long that I can't recall the name of this muscle.
 

thirdeye

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With my boneless butts, I butterfly them so that they are thinner - just basically following the seam between the muscle group. Apply rub to both sides and run them on the smoker around 250°-270°. On the pieces that don't want to pull easily, I just set a side and chop it up and add it to the pulled meat.
Keep in mind that a pork butt and a pork shoulder are different cuts from the front leg. Typically the pork shoulder has part of the front hock and the skin (rind) still on. In the pork shoulder there is a muscle that defies pulling no matter how long you cook it. This muscle always needs to be chopped. I've been out of butchering for so long that I can't recall the name of this muscle.
I'm sure it's just a difference in terms but in my world the front leg with the trotter removed is referred to as a whole shoulder which weighs about 18 to 22 pounds.... and it has the butt (or blade roast), and the picnic (which is the lower half). In my photo whole shoulders are on top, picnic on the lower left, and butts on the lower right.
7rIKA.jpg
 

thirdeye

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It is the second time that this happen to me. Basically, I start with a 10 pound pork shoulder (pork butt without bone - that is what is available here, not my call).

Setup:
Akorn (i.e. "metal kamado")
Deflector plate on
11 hours on the cooker
250-275F for the entire cook (digital grill thermometer)
Cooking fat side up
No wrap
No spritz
No opening the lid for those 11 hours.

Problem:
After all that time, the pulled pork is ready pretty much everywhere, except for a large muscle (I don't know its name, but is is at the opposite of the fat cap - I would call it under if fat cap up). The pork is pulling really well, its moist, tasty and everything, except for that tough muscle that I need to chop. My final temperature is 190F-195F everywhere except at that stubborn muscle where it stall at 180F. The stubborn muscle is directly on the grill when I cook.

I would like to not have to chop the tough muscle, and have it render like the rest of the shoulder.

Questions:
Have you ever experience that?
What was your solution?

Thanks.
I believe the muscle you are referring to is the one I have labeled loin, because it is one of the leanest muscles on the butt, it's lighter in color and tighter in texture. I inject it heavily to keep it moist but usually wind up slicing it. If you force the pull, it looks like spaghetti instead of moist and shiny pulled pork. It's so unpredictable that competition cooks will not use it.
VCND3PS.jpg
 

chef jimmyj

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Wow! Thanks. I had heard the term Tubes but didnt know what they were until seeing your illustration...JJ
 

kilo charlie

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I know that it's already been mentioned.. but it's really best to take it to the 203F range.. I used to run into the same problem only going to 190 and finally learned my lesson.. it just takes a little more time and a little more patience to get a final product that falls apart and is perfect all the way through. Hopefully everyone's advise helps your next smoke improve to your liking!
 

thirdeye

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Wow! Thanks. I had heard the term Tubes but didn't know what they were until seeing your illustration...JJ
You're welcome, and when eating a pork steak the bites are noticeably better in some areas than others. I wish I could give credit to the cook that snapped this photo, but they painstakingly removed individual tube muscles to make a picture frame around some sliced money muscle.
JRWmdzl.jpg
 
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Joined Jun 9, 2021
Thanks for all your answers. I really like the idea that it is the loin problem, and there is no way to get that to pull. Pointing finger is so much easier ;) I am puzzled because in the past I manage to get the whole bone less pork shoulder (no picnic) to be pulled.

The temperature of that tough part was not rising at the end, and for more than one hour! I don't know, maybe my dripping pan was centre there, limiting the flow of air and heat?
 

thirdeye

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Thanks for all your answers. I really like the idea that it is the loin problem, and there is no way to get that to pull. Pointing finger is so much easier ;) I am puzzled because in the past I manage to get the whole bone less pork shoulder (no picnic) to be pulled.

The temperature of that tough part was not rising at the end, and for more than one hour! I don't know, maybe my dripping pan was centre there, limiting the flow of air and heat?
Well different feed, different breed, different age can all make a difference in meat quality. I still cook pork butts at barbecue temps for that very reason. Most other meats I'll sneak up on 275°. If you can consistently break down a butt and get some moist and tender pork that has the fats nicely rendered you can overlook one or two muscles as not being truly pullable.

etxHIPS.jpg
 

forktender

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200* + but probe to tender. When the probe goes in like budda and you are around that 200* number, you are done. Never cook to time only. The temp is a zone, 195-210* the probe will tell all for tender.
I can't stand when I see people post things like take it to 205* or 210*..nope, cook it until it's done.

Heck, it's got a bone in thermo that tells you when they are done.

When the bone comes out clean, it's done,

When my wooden probe/ sharpened chopstick slides in with little resistance it's done.
 

SmokinEdge

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I can't stand when I see people post things like take it to 205* or 210*..nope, cook it until it's done.

Heck, it's got a bone in thermo that tells you when they are done.

When the bone comes out clean, it's done,

When my wooden probe/ sharpened chopstick slides in with little resistance it's done.
Yes sir. That’s the way it is.
 

thirdeye

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I can't stand when I see people post things like take it to 205* or 210*..nope, cook it until it's done.

Heck, it's got a bone in thermo that tells you when they are done.

When the bone comes out clean, it's done,

When my wooden probe/ sharpened chopstick slides in with little resistance it's done.
I have a calibrated ice pick for the same task.... :emoji_nerd:
GIEb7.jpg
 

chef jimmyj

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I can't think of a single land animal, that with Low Heat, <300°F, a Lot of Time and/or maintaining a Moist Environment, won't become Fall Apart Tender!
In simple Food Science terms...Muscle Fibers are bound together in bundles by the Connective Tissue Protein, Collagen. Collagen denatures when heated. The protein coils unwind and the collagen liquifies forming Gelatin. This process of denaturing can start around 130°F, SV for 48 hours, but accelerates when the IT hits 160°F through 180°F. Add Moisture, and the process goes even faster as moisture, Steam/Foiling Liquid, transfers heat energy more efficiently than hot air. Once the majority of Collagen Gelatinizes, then muscle fibers Fall Apart.
Different degrees of Gelatinization gives the meat textures we desire. Example Smoking Brisket at 225°F long enough that the IT reaches 190 to 195, Probe Tender but Slight Resistance, a 1/4" slice holds together but a light tug on the ends and the slice easily separates in two. Give the same Brisket a couple more hours at 225, the IT get to 205 to 210, Probe Slides in No Resistance, and the same meat muscle fibers can be Pulled apart into Small Bundles and Strands of muscle fibers. Let it cook even longer or Foil Wrap the 205+°F meat tightly and cooler rest the beef for a few more hours, and so much Collagen will have been converted to Gelatin that the muscle will shred/fall apart into nearly Individual Muscle Fibers so fine you don't need Teeth to Eat It!
Bottom Line...If your Hunk o' Meat, or any portion of it, is Not Pulling Apart, it has not been Cooked Long Enough...JJ
 

chef jimmyj

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An interesting take on Pulled Pork....
I can't remember all the details, but the documentary was highlighting different Pitmasters around the South. One that caught my eye, was a Pitmaster that specialized in Pork Butt. They showed the man poke at the Butts with a Pot Fork, then carry a Smoker Rack of 4 Butts over to a 6" deep plastic tub. The man TOSSED the Butts into the bin, turned the Rack on End and Chopped the Butts, using the Racks edge, about 5 or 6 times. The meat was Smashed into what resembled Pulled Pork! I watched and thought, " DAMN! They were some Tender Pork Butts! "...JJ
 
3
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Joined Jun 9, 2021
It is the second time that this happen to me. Basically, I start with a 10 pound pork shoulder (pork butt without bone - that is what is available here, not my call).
[...]
Heck, it's got a bone in thermo that tells you when they are done.
Locally, I can only source "pork butt" that are de boned, I could not use the bone trick.

Does the bone help cooking more evenly?
 

chef jimmyj

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Does the bone help cooking more evenly?
Not really. The Shoulder Blade Bone is porous and like many bones are Insulators. A Bone-In Butt takes a bit longer to get pull apart tender....JJ
 

thirdeye

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Locally, I can only source "pork butt" that are de boned, I could not use the bone trick.

Does the bone help cooking more evenly?
Not really. The Shoulder Blade Bone is porous and like many bones are Insulators. A Bone-In Butt takes a bit longer to get pull apart tender....JJ
I like the horn muscle meat better when it's cooked on the bone so to speak, than when the bone is removed. Those plugs in my photo above are from the horn. They are silky and slightly sticky at the same time.
 

schlotz

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I'm thinking it was just not cooked long enough. I always take mine to 203-205º, then place in a cooler with towels for a minimum of 2 hours. wonderful things happen to it during those 2 hours.

Boneless or not, this meat is very hard to mess up. Probed tender is one thing but that doesn't necessarily equate to being pull apart ready throughout. Take your next one over 200º then rest it. My bet is you'll have 100% pullable pork.
 
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