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View Full Version : What do they want in pulled pork?


TBS-BBQ
07-06-2011, 11:23 AM
Went to my first comp this past weekend. We did ribs, pork, and brisket. I was happy with the way it all turned out, but I have a question. What do the judges look for in pulled pork? If I would've had to pick one of the meats to enter, it would've been the pork. It was without a doubt the best I've ever done, and in the top 5 of the best I've ever ate. They killed me on it. They dinged me on the texture. Are they talking about how well it was pulled, or was it over-cooked? Let me know what you all think.

chad
07-06-2011, 11:25 AM
We'd all like to know THE answer to that one! :mrgreen:

In a KCBS or FBA type event, you have 6 judges and possibly the table captain to contend with.
You may have a "sauce queen" or one that focuses on bark or "whatever". It really always "depends". Just focus on doing what you do as best you can and taste, taste, taste. Taste other people's food as often as you can.

Good luck and welcome to the dark side.

Rich Parker
07-06-2011, 11:25 AM
Low texture points usually means under / over cooked. CBJs are taught in the class to see if the pork is mushy so if it was they would ding you on that.

Rookie'48
07-06-2011, 11:59 AM
Mushy pork will tank your scores. Over-sauced will do the same, by that I'm talking about the entry that has so much sauce that you can't see or taste the meat.

Ron_L
07-06-2011, 12:02 PM
It also varies based on region. At a recent competition I was talking to several judges after turn-ins and more than one was complaining that too may of the pork entries had sauce. Not just too much sauce, but any sauce at all seemed to be an issue for those judges. One judge also commented on entries having more than one for of pork (e.g., slices, chunks or pulled) and each different type tasting different. He scored down for that even though those different types can come rom different muscles within the butt and will taste different.

TBS-BBQ
07-06-2011, 12:07 PM
Sauce wasn't the issue. In fact, we were told before the comp by the director that once we plated it, do not add any sauce. That's fine, because I don't cook with it anyway. I want the meat to stand on it's own, then add sauce if you prefer. All I did for cooking was rub it with Lawry's, some black pepper/worcestershire, raw sugar, and used olive oil to hold it on. Ran it at 225 until it got to 180-185 then pulled, foiled, and rested in the chest for about 3 hours. One judge even commented that it would've been perfect if it had a good sauce. guess i just got beat by preference.

AZScott
07-06-2011, 12:17 PM
How do you know sauce wasn't the issue if you didn't use any? I'd be willing to say it is part of the issue.

TBS-BBQ
07-06-2011, 12:23 PM
How do you know sauce wasn't the issue if you didn't use any? I'd be willing to say it is part of the issue.

I don't think it was, because they said not to use it after plating. Maybe I should've mixed some in after I pulled it, then plated? Is that something that is done?

Hogtie N' Ride
07-06-2011, 12:34 PM
At 180 to 185 it may have been under done vs over, normally pull ours at low 190's. We have had best results pulling chunks with bark on them and filling the box with them, brushing on a little glaze (thinned out sauce) right before turning in. We butterfly our butts to get more surface for the rub and smoke rather than injecting.

huminie
07-06-2011, 12:37 PM
You might want to consider resting prior to pulling. If you pulled right after being in the cooker and then let it rest you may have ended up with very dry pork. Try resting the roast whole and then pulling just prior to boxing/plating after resting. I think you will find the meat will retain much more moisture this way.

Adding a little of a good sauce when pulling is definitely a good thing.

Jacked UP BBQ
07-06-2011, 01:51 PM
Pork is a sauce contest.

bbq.tom
07-06-2011, 03:05 PM
Pork is a sauce contest.

NOT!!!

It is all about the flavor of the meat shining through with a wee bit of smoke and sauce to enhance the pork flavor!

I find LOTS more pork entries to be a bit chewy than those that are mushy. Both are detractors. Make sure you have at least 6 bites (pieces) of pulled pork that are as identical as possible in your box, as well as at least 6 helpings of anything else (chopped/sliced/bark/etc.) so that the judges can each grab a sample of the different pork types (IF you are putting more than one type in the box).

Hogtie N' Ride
07-06-2011, 03:19 PM
[QUOTE=huminie;1699488]You might want to consider resting prior to pulling. If you pulled right after being in the cooker and then let it rest you may have ended up with very dry pork. Try resting the roast whole and then pulling just prior to boxing/plating after resting. I think you will find the meat will retain much more moisture this way.


agree....
We let ours rest for 2 hours before pulling / prepping for turn in. It seems it tenderizes the meat as well as distributing the juices. We are very frugal with the glaze / sauce.

Hub
07-07-2011, 05:19 AM
Overcooked or mushy pork will not have much or any of the natural meat grain left. You will be able to eat it with almost no chewing -- it will liquify in your mouth. If you try to separate a piece with your fingers it will just disintegrate rather than splitting.

A good pork entry (no matter how presented) will be tender but retain the natural meat texture. It should present some resistance when bitten into. As to flavor (the heaviest score weighting) there should be an interesting and pleasing blend and balance of the natural meat flavor, the cooking method, and any spicing used (rub, injection, mop, sauce) with no one thing dominating the flavor profile.

I think most judges concentrate on juding taste when it comes to pork. Very seldom do we ever get a tough entry, but there are some overcooked and mushy ones. Pork tastes good even when overcooked so most judges aren't too discerning about the texture of it.

As to appearance, pork is always a challenge. Other than the vague "marking" rule there are no presentation rules or standards. The box should be an attractive presentation featuring meat of good color, consistent sizing, and apparent moisture. The lowest scores go to "dumped in the box to get it over with" (which is somewhat common) and the highest go to creative presentations that entice the judge to want to taste it ( good looking pieces of uniform appearance ).

TBS-BBQ
07-07-2011, 08:58 AM
A good pork entry (no matter how presented) will be tender but retain the natural meat texture. It should present some resistance when bitten into. As to flavor (the heaviest score weighting) there should be an interesting and pleasing blend and balance of the natural meat flavor, the cooking method, and any spicing used (rub, injection, mop, sauce) with no one thing dominating the flavor profile.

This is what I was shooting for, and I felt like we were there. Im not gonna beat myself up over it. It was a local backyard bbq, with local, uncertified judges. I did let it rest before I pulled it, about 3 hours in a cooler. I think what I'll try to adjust is to maybe thin out some BBQ sauce and add it after it's pulled to give me a little flavor.

Lake Dogs
07-07-2011, 09:05 AM
> It was a local backyard bbq, with local, uncertified judges.

Honestly, this is probably 90% of your answer (ala. the problem). When you bring together un-trained un-certified people to judge they tend to bring their personal biases with them (judges are trained to drop most of those at the door). Not that CBJ's dont have biases, but non-CBJ's REALLY REALLY bring them to bare. Un-sanctioned comps, frankly, IMHO, are willy-nilly. Go, have fun, and dont read anything into any scores you get.

Plowboy
07-07-2011, 09:10 AM
Went to my first comp this past weekend. We did ribs, pork, and brisket. I was happy with the way it all turned out, but I have a question. What do the judges look for in pulled pork? If I would've had to pick one of the meats to enter, it would've been the pork. It was without a doubt the best I've ever done, and in the top 5 of the best I've ever ate. They killed me on it. They dinged me on the texture. Are they talking about how well it was pulled, or was it over-cooked? Let me know what you all think.

Remember that it isn't a Pulled Pork category. It is a pork category. A traditional pulled pork, if that is what you did, is the wrong way to go. It loses flavor and moisture too fast. Sauce won't save you.

Pork is a sauce contest.

Totally disagree. I use 2 tablespoons of sauce on my pork.

TBS-BBQ
07-07-2011, 10:56 AM
[QUOTE=Plowboy;1700484]Remember that it isn't a Pulled Pork category. It is a pork category. A traditional pulled pork, if that is what you did, is the wrong way to go. It loses flavor and moisture too fast. Sauce won't save you.

Good point, but the director specified pulled pork at the comp meeting. Oh well, it wasn't all bad. We cooked our ribs to the point that when i picked them up by the end the meat started to crack. We scored 102 out of a possible 110 on them and ended up third overall. Broke even with the prize money, so I'm happy.