Pulled Pork without wrapping in foil???

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Smoke Blower
Original poster
Jun 29, 2016
Bolivar, Ohio

I'm trying a new way (for me) to smoke a pork shoulder with bone in.

I saw a comparison on You Tube of wrapping in foil verses not wrapping, but I don't remember how they did it.

I'm currently at 175, smoker is at about 260.

Meat has been in for 9 hours so far.  It's 4pm in the afternoon.

So, I'm hoping in the next couple of hours the meat will hit 200 degrees.

What do I do then?

I thought I'd just turn off the smoker and let it sit right where it is for an hour and then pull it.

I saw someone online smoke it unwrapped, then when it hit 200 degrees they wrapped it in foil, then in a towel???, then put it in a cooler for an hour.  Doesn't that soften up the 'bark' and defeat the purpose?



Personally I have not done pulled pork that way, I have pulled out of smoker to rest, Then pulled and dressed half and leave half plain. I do wrap briskets and put in the cooler for a few though...
I know, but it's soft.  :)

I'd like to try it one time with a more crispy bark, that's all.

You're look great by the way.

Well, looks like I'll be taking it off in a few minutes.

It's at 198 degrees right now.

No real responses on what to do next, so I think I'll just turn off the heat, and let it rest in the smoker for a half hour or so until I pull it apart.

I'll let you know how it turns out.
I usually just let them rest on the counter for about 30 minutes.

At that point they are cooled down enough to pull with silicone gloves.

I want to share the results of my experiment of smoking the pork shoulder without wrapping in foil at 170.

I am very happy with the results.  Here's the comparison between the two methods.
  1. Bark Texture:  As we've discussed already, the pulled pork that is wrapped in foil finishes with a very soft bark, although very flavorful.  The unwrapped pork has a definite 'harder' crust - although it is not 'crispy' hard, or tough to eat.  It is a very pleasant texture, and really adds an element of difference to the overall pulled pork when mixed together.  I must say, the taste of the thicker, bark pieces was amazing.
  2. Tenderness of Meat:   Both versions were equally tender.  It's difficult to describe, but I'd have to say that the pulled pork wrapped in foil had a bit of a consistency of being just a little more 'mushy' feeling than the unwrapped - if that makes any sense - however, the unwrapped was definitely tender.
  3. Juicy:   I expected the foil wrapped version to be a lot juicier, but in reality they were very close to being the same.  With that said, the way I finish the pork for presentation is probably different than some people.  To explain, when I pull apart the meat after it's been foil-wrapped, I always separate the lean meat from the remaining larger pieces of fat.  It's personal preference, I just don't like mixing in extra fat.  So I'm expecting that my finished product of foil-wrapped pork may be less juicy than others and that might be why it was very close to the unwrapped version.
  4. Pulling Effort / Time:   Sounds funny, but pulling the pork apart always takes me some serious time.  Mostly because I'm so particular about what parts are included in the bowl for eating verses what I end up throwing out (pieces of fat).  To my surprise, the unwrapped version had nothing  to separate.  I didn't find any pieces of fat to discard while pulling.  I had the whole, 7 pound pork pulled into bite size pieces in literally 1 to 2 minutes.  Awesome!  I guess, being unwrapped, all the fat liquified?  Someone can explain better than I can, but I was pleasantly surprised.
  5. Cooking Time:   Here's the biggest difference.  I try my best to keep my Masterbuilt Smoker at 240 to 260 degrees.  For 4th of July, I smoked (3) 8 pound pork shoulders at the same time.  They hit 170 degrees between the 7 to 8 hour mark, (then I wrapped in foil) and somewhere between 9 and 10 hours - they were at 200 degrees.  Done.  For the unwrapped pork, it took all of 12 hours to finish, then I let it rest for about a half hour before pulling it.  So for quicker cooking, it seems like wrapping in foil wins by at least a couple hours.
I made one mistake when smoking the unwrapped version - I didn't put a pan under the meat so I didn't have any drippings to mix back into the pulled meat at the end.  

I guess that's it.  Sorry no pics - My mistake.  It was getting late and I had to get moving with dinner (I know, poor excuse).

Next up will be an attempt at Beef Brisket.  I've never made one and I'm really excited to try it.  From what I understand Brisket takes even longer on the smoker, so I'm not sure how  to make that happen.  Not really looking forward to starting it in the middle of the night.

Thanks for your opinions and help - as usual.
Let us know when that happens, Mmmmm brisket....
     Glad to hear your PP turned out, The review was good, makes sense. 

 For brisket depending on the size, I have been putting on at midnight or before I go to bed. Guess it depends on what you are using for a smoker as well. Good luck I'll be watching...
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