Pulled Pork Question For The Experts Out There

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Original poster
Oct 15, 2013
Bay Area, CA
Hello All,

I am fairly new to smoking and am pretty addicted.  This website seems to be a great place!  Thanks for all of the previous posts that I've already read.  I was hoping you could all help me through my most current problem/question.  I was trying to make pulled pork today.  I was trying to smoke what was labeled as "pork cushion meat" which I have seen on a few other posts on this site.  It seems that it's a part of the shoulder and it sounds like it's just fine to use for pulled pork.  I smoked it for about 5 1/2 hours between 225 and 255.  I have made one other pulled pork before from pork butt (I think also called Boston Butt).  That one came out better.  I took this one off of the grill at 190 degrees exactly and let it sit for an hour.  When I went to pull it, it wouldn't quite pull.  It wasn't as "stringy" and moist as the last time.  What I'm wondering....is this because I either over or under cooked it, or is it because of the different cut?  What would cause it to need to be chopped pork instead of pulled pork?  As you can see from the photo, some of it pulled, but not quite all of it.  It tastes great, but I'm pretty sure it will end up dry after a little time.  I know that's usually a sign of over cooked meat, but I took it off exactly at 190 so I'm not quite sure.  Any insight would be greatly appreciated.  I'm trying to learn something from each smoking so I can improve.  Thanks for all of the input already.  I look forward to reading this site more in the future.  Thanks!


chef jimmyj

Gone but not forgotten. RIP
OTBS Member
SMF Premier Member
★ Lifetime Premier ★
May 12, 2011
190°F is Slicing Pork. You need to get 200-205°F to pull nicely. Pork Cushion meat is the large muscle on the outer portion of the lower front leg from the Hock up to the Butt Portion. It is pretty lean so although it will pull, may seem a bit dry compared to Butts you have made before. Options are to chop it smaller reheat an eat putting a sauce on the sandwich or pick a Finishing Sauce or Apple Juice and reheat as is and simmer until it pulls more easily. You didn't post your location in your profile so I don't know if you tend to like Sweet or Tangy finishing sauce so below are both I use...JJ

Foiling Juice

For each Rack of Ribs Combine:

1T Pork Rub, yours

1/2 Stick Butter

1/2C Cane Syrup... Dark Corn Syrup...or Honey

1/4C Apple Cider...or Juice

1T Molasses


2T Vinegar, 2T Mustard and 1/4C Ketchup to make it more KC Style.

Simmer 5-10 minutes until syrupy consistency.

Allow to cool for 5 minutes, pour over foiled Ribs and

run your 2 hour phase of 3-2-1. For the last phase return

the ribs to the smoker BUT reserve any Juice remaining

in the Foil. Simmer the Juice over med/low heat to reduce to a saucy thickness. Glaze the Ribs for presentation or service.

For a Sweet Pulled Pork Finishing Sauce: Make a Double batch, Butter optional or do as I do...Use the Smoked Pork Fat from the drip pan...

Add 1/2 the batch to the Foil Pack or place it in a Pan with your Butt, when the IT hits 165*F.

Cover the pan with foil and continue to heat to 205*F for pulling.

At 205* rest or hold the Butt in a cooler wrapped in towels until ready to serve.

De-fat the remaining Juice from the foil pack or pan and set aside.

Pull the Pork and place it back in the pan and add the de-fatted pan Juice and any additional reserved Foiling Juice to moisten and Serve...OR... Bag and refrigerate until needed.

When re-heating place the Pulled Pork in a Pan or Crockpot and add reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider, as needed to make up the Juice that was absorbed while  the pork was refrigerated. Cover and re-heat in a pre-heated 325-350*F oven or on High in the crockpot to 165*F and Serve.

Note: the addition of the reserved Foiling Juice or Apple Cider should make the PP moist but not Swimming.

JJ's Finishing Sauce (Tangy)

2C Apple Cider Vinegar

2T Worcestershire Sauce or more to taste

1/4C Brown Sugar

1T Smoked Paprika

2 tsp Granulated Garlic

2 tsp Granulated Onion

2 tsp Fine Grind Black Pepper

1 tsp Celery Salt

1 tsp Cayenne Pepper or Chipotle powder. Add more if you like Heat.

1/2 tsp Grnd Allspice

Combine all and whisk well. Let rest, at room temp, 30 minutes for the flavors to meld together.
Last edited:


AMNPS Test Group
Sep 8, 2011
When I smoke large cuts like pork butt/shoulders or briskets I never go strictly by temp, it is just a guideline for me. I go by tenderness to tell me when it is done. I do a tenderness test by inserting a thin sharp clean probe into the meat in multiple place to feel for tenderness. When it slides in with no resistance at all like going into warm butter then I know the meat is tender and ready. Doing this test I have never had pork that wouldn't pull. I will start checking for tenderness when the IT of the meat gets to about 185*. I have had butts tender and very pullable at 185* and others that had to go to over 200*. Every piece of meat is different, some get done faster than others.
I have also adopted the wet to dry smoke chamber method and it has never let me down and has taken my smokes to a whole new level:


Original poster
Thread starter
Oct 15, 2013
Bay Area, CA
Thank you both so much for your replies.  Sounds like I have a fix and an understanding of how to handle it next time.  I really appreciate it!


Smoking Guru
OTBS Member
Mar 30, 2007
Chiefland/Cedar Key, Fl
Looks like some of our Pork Roast. It can be pulled but you don't have near the fat content of the Butts or Shoulders. I have seen these with some Fat Caps, but I would tend to treat them more like Country Style Ribs.


Oct 3, 2013
don't look at it as a failure. you learned how to make chopped pork. not the same as pulled but definitely had its applications. I prefer chopped over pulled for dishes like carnitas and tacos.

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