Salvaging Dry Pulled Pork

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Nate52

Meat Mopper
Original poster
Jun 22, 2021
215
257
Queensbury, NY
I wanted to stock up the freezer for the winter, since I won't be able to run my smoker in colder temperatures. The price of butts have skyrocketed here, but I found picnics for .69/lb. I know its a different cut of meat, but I'm still a dumb newbie and figured close enough. I grabbed three of them. Once I skinned them, I did everything the exact same way as my previous flawless butts.

Everything was going well and I was running at about 250° until I lost the sun around noon. At that point I was struggling to keep it over 200°, which also happened to coincide with the start of a 6 hour stall at about 155°. I would have pulled everything to finish in the oven hours earlier, but my wife decided yesterday was the perfect day for a baking marathon, so I had to wait my turn. I got them in the oven at about 6:30. I checked them at 201°, and they weren't even close to probe tender. Still not as tender as I'd like it at 205°, but the clock was ticking and I couldn't keep it in there much longer.

There was nothing positive about how this meat turned out. It was tough and dry. Didn't pull very well. The bark was like a hard shell that you couldn't crack with a hammer. I had to throw most of it out. It was very reminiscent of the Griswold's Christmas turkey. I'm sure I'm mostly to blame, but the weather and meat get some blame, too.

So now that I've told the mostly irrelevant story about my unfortunate day, here's my real purpose for the post. I have a 2 gallon ziplock bag of dry, yet still very flavorful, pulled pork sitting in my fridge. And I'm wondering how I can salvage it. My goal had been to do vacuum packs in 1 lb quantities to take out and reheat in water whenever necessary. Does it make sense to add broth to the packs before vacuuming? I've seen them do it on cooking competitions on tv to make a marinade work quicker by forcing the liquids into the meat.

Or if anyone has a better suggestion, I'd love to hear it.
 
Usually if my PP gets dry I will add some of my rub to a stick of melted butter and pour it over the top. Gives you the moist tender mouth feel you are looking for with pulled pork.
 
I'm interested what some of the more experienced folks have to say but something isn't quite adding up here to me. A six hour stall isn't unheard of but it would definitely be on the higher end, and not out of the question if you are running around 200. The meat not being probe tender at 201-205 also sounds off to me. Every picnic and shoulder I've done will practically fall apart above 202-203.

Are you sure your thermometer is giving you accurate readings?

As for what to do with the meat - if it has good flavor you can try a finishing sauce to moisten it up.
 
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The wife got me a Meater+ for my birthday, so this was my first time using it. But I had been double checking IT with a trusty old analog thermometer that I've come to rely on. . It was within a degree.

I didn't think to have a backup probe because for smoker temp. I guess I was just too in love with the wireless aspect of it.

I'm not crazy about the finishing sauce, just because I want more versatility when I thaw it.

I'm kicking myself for throwing out those three big leg bones. That would have made a killer stock.
 
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Picnic is my favorite shoulder cut next to the money muscle in the butt. Picnics, to me have a better texture and flavor.

As to the dryness, it could be that hog was ornery, or maybe it’s the pitmaster’s fault. Either way, I would continue on with the original plan and freeze. Once those packages are thawed out, you can go whatever direction you want. Might be soup, might be sandwiches or could be nachos. Whatever, I would let my cook determine what kind of sauce or liquid I use. Chicken broth or vegetable broth are two that I like.
 
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I prefer picnics too. If it's a bit tough, I would throw it in the slow cooker with some broth and rub (add butter or sauce or whatever instead of broth) and cook it til it pulls. Or a pressure cooker. I saved some short ribs with the pressure cooker a few weeks ago. I'm sure what's left can be salvaged. Good luck!
 
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A quick way to moisten PP that seems a tad dry is simply to add a bit of water. It doesn't take much.
A nice finishing sauce also does the trick...but...again...it doesn't take much.

FWIW - I prefer picnic roasts for PP.
 
I'm not crazy about the finishing sauce, just because I want more versatility when I thaw it.
I dont think these are mutually exclusive concepts. I use a finishing sauce on all my pulled pork, and I use it all kinds of other cooks: mac and cheese, stuffed peppers, tacos, etc. I dont see it as a limiter to versatility at all. Quite the opposite. A good finishing sauce makes the whole batch more flavorful for any use.
 
I'm not crazy about the finishing sauce, just because I want more versatility when I thaw it.
I agree . Unless I know I'm going to use it all as PP , I just season with salt and pepper , then season for tacos or what ever later .


That is strange. The last couple of picnics I smoked probed tender between 195° and 198°.
Yup . Not as much to render .
 
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I dont think these are mutually exclusive concepts. I use a finishing sauce on all my pulled pork, and I use it all kinds of other cooks: mac and cheese, stuffed peppers, tacos, etc. I dont see it as a limiter to versatility at all. Quite the opposite. A good finishing sauce makes the whole batch more flavorful for any use.
I'm not against adding more flavor. Its just that not everyone I would potentially be serving it to likes the same sauces.

Thats why I'm leaning more towards a broth route, just to keep the flavors as neutral as possible so they can add whatever they want when the time comes.
 
I always add a finishing sauce to my pulled pork. Not really for dryness but for flavor. It would help with a dry one though for sure. The recipe I follow is a popular one on here.
1 cup cider vinegar
2 tbs brown sugar
1 tsp cajun seasoning
1 tsp black pepper
1 tsp red pepper flakes.
Heat the vinegar enough to melt the brown sugar then mix in the other. I usually put it in a squeeze bottle and use as needed. I like to mix it in with warm PP right after I pull it.
 
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I'm not against adding more flavor. Its just that not everyone I would potentially be serving it to likes the same sauces.

Thats why I'm leaning more towards a broth route, just to keep the flavors as neutral as possible so they can add whatever they want when the time comes.
It sounds more like you are describing bbq sauce. The finishing sauce I use is cider vinegar, dark brown sugar ..... hell I can't remember the whole recipe, but it's here on the forum if you search finishing sauce. It is used sparingly to kind of level out the gamier portions of the butt. I like mine with just the finishing sauce, but most of my family will add whatever bbq sauce they prefer when they make their sammies.

Texas Cookin' posted the one I use. I just put the ingredients in a bottle and shake it up till the sugar dissolves, then just sprinkle a little here and there on the pulled pork, then mix it up.
 
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It sounds more like you are describing bbq sauce.
exactly my thoughts. A finishing sauce is thin and pretty much absorbs in. No one you serve the pulled pork to would know any different regardless of how the pork was used.

The Finishing Sauce I use is as follows:

1 Cup Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Course Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

I wouldnt think of making pulled pork without it.
 
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The Finishing Sauce I use is as follows:

1 Cup Cider Vinegar
2 Tablespoons Brown Sugar
1 Teaspoon Tony Chachere's Cajun Seasoning
1 Teaspoon Course Black Pepper
1 Teaspoon Red Pepper Flakes

I wouldnt think of making pulled pork without it.
There have been a few times I thought I had everything for the finishing sauce on hand, and didn't. I think the finishing sauce really makes the pulled pork shine. It's still good without it, but not as good. Maybe I wouldn't miss it if I drowned my pulled pork with bbq sauce, but I prefer mine with no bbq sauce.
 
I wanted to stock up the freezer for the winter, since I won't be able to run my smoker in colder temperatures. The price of butts have skyrocketed here, but I found picnics for .69/lb. I know its a different cut of meat, but I'm still a dumb newbie and figured close enough. I grabbed three of them. Once I skinned them, I did everything the exact same way as my previous flawless butts.

Everything was going well and I was running at about 250° until I lost the sun around noon. At that point I was struggling to keep it over 200°, which also happened to coincide with the start of a 6 hour stall at about 155°. I would have pulled everything to finish in the oven hours earlier, but my wife decided yesterday was the perfect day for a baking marathon, so I had to wait my turn. I got them in the oven at about 6:30. I checked them at 201°, and they weren't even close to probe tender. Still not as tender as I'd like it at 205°, but the clock was ticking and I couldn't keep it in there much longer.

There was nothing positive about how this meat turned out. It was tough and dry. Didn't pull very well. The bark was like a hard shell that you couldn't crack with a hammer. I had to throw most of it out. It was very reminiscent of the Griswold's Christmas turkey. I'm sure I'm mostly to blame, but the weather and meat get some blame, too.

So now that I've told the mostly irrelevant story about my unfortunate day, here's my real purpose for the post. I have a 2 gallon ziplock bag of dry, yet still very flavorful, pulled pork sitting in my fridge. And I'm wondering how I can salvage it. My goal had been to do vacuum packs in 1 lb quantities to take out and reheat in water whenever necessary. Does it make sense to add broth to the packs before vacuuming? I've seen them do it on cooking competitions on tv to make a marinade work quicker by forcing the liquids into the meat.

Or if anyone has a better suggestion, I'd love to hear it.

Put in foil pan, add bbq sauce and a small amount of water, cover tightly with foil, and put in the oven at 325F for 3 hrs and it should braise up tender and be awesome BBQ :)
 
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Put in foil pan, add bbq sauce and a small amount of water, cover tightly with foil, and put in the oven at 325F for 3 hrs and it should braise up tender and be awesome BBQ :)
If we are going down this road. Personally, I would throw it in a pan of New Mexico Red Chile and let it roll. Oh yeah babe.
 
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I usually have extra juices from the pan under my Pork Butt, when it's done.
After I defat that I add it, if needed, and save the rest.
If you don't have any left, I'd go with something like what "Sandyut" mentioned above.

Bear
 
You want to keep the Pork Flavor...Make up 1 pound Vac-sealed bags with 1/2C Box Chicken Stock or Broth in each. The stock will add moisture when the bagged pork is reheated in Simmering Water. For Pulled Pork, 1 hour will reheat and tenderize the meat. For other preparations add the pork and juices in the bag directly to the pot or pan and proceed...JJ
 
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