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Unread 08-04-2013, 06:56 AM   #1
rikun
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Default Help, my pulled pork is getting worse every time?!?

Hi,

I've been doing BBQ for a couple of years now with my UDS. I don't use water pan or heat deflector. I've tried them, but didn't like the results.

I've been mostly doing pulled pork from whole pork necks since pork butt is not available here. It has nice fat and marbling and it's been working out for me just fine. They are around 4.5 - 5 pounds a piece.

For the first year I did my pulled pork low & slow at around 225-250 for about 11-13 hours till internal was about 198-200, no foil. They were fantastic. Some of them I injected, some of them I didn't. There were some minor differences in quality, but nothing major.

Lately I've been experimenting with hot & fast at around 300-325 for about 5-6 hours, foiling when the color is right (usually around 165-170). Then I've taken the meat to around 198-200 and unwrapped & returned to smoker for a short while to make the bark more crispy. These I've been mostly injecting.

The first hot & fast experiments were success, I would even say one those cooks was way better than any low & slow I've done.

But now I've got a big problem, only one the last five or six cooks has been successful. Most of them have been very dry and tough, I've even had hard time pulling some of them. I've taken some of them to 205 and it didn't help.

I'm wondering if I've cooked them too long? However it seems that the overall consensus is that overcooked pulled pork would be mushy, not dry...?

I've tried to probe for tenderness, but I don't have enough experience to rely on feel. I would say the probe went in almost like butter in most places, but on some places it had quite a bit of resistance. Also, when pulled, the neck had some small parts that very quite moist and tender, but one muscle on the side was quite dry.

Should I place my meter always on the same muscle of the neck?

I have no clue what I'm doing wrong, since I'm keeping meticulous notes about every cook and I don't see anything weird...

I've even done two cooks with identical temps, procedures and injections. The other one was fantastic and the other one horribly dry. The successful one was from better meat, though. It was very pretty piece of meat with lots of marbling.

I've checked my UDS temp meters, they are quite accurate (checked with PT-100 sensor). However I'd had some fluctuation in temps, they've been between 290 and 350 for the whole cook. Could that little fluctuation cause bad results?

I've also tried low & slow again, but the results weren't any better. Ended up with dry and chewy pork. Getting a bit desperate here
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Unread 08-04-2013, 07:10 AM   #2
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My guess is your probe is not placed correctly and you're undercooking it.
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Unread 08-04-2013, 07:20 AM   #3
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a lot of what you are seeing, I believe, is due to the quality of the meats you are cooking, you said it yourself that on two occasions one meat was better marbled than the other and the better marbled one turned out better...
next time cook at 275*, foil the meat at 160* internal with some apple juice added and finish the cook until the meat is probe tender....probably around 200* internal...
and remember, it's just barbecue, have fun with it!!!
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Unread 08-04-2013, 07:24 AM   #4
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I am clueless when it comes to pork neck. How are they normally cooked there? Perhaps you can adapt that method to your smoker?
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Unread 08-04-2013, 07:31 AM   #5
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As you stated towards the end, sometime its just the cut of meat. Had the same thing happen with two Boston butts. One came out tough to pull and dry whereas the other was moist and pulled easily. There's just somethings you can't control.
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Unread 08-04-2013, 07:38 AM   #6
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Question, if you can get the neck of the pig, where does the rest go that its not available or what do they do with it?
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Unread 08-04-2013, 07:48 AM   #7
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Are you sure you can't get butts there? It seems odd that such a large cut from an animal simply wouldn't be available. Over here they're called roasting joints usually, sometimes shoulder.. Different name - same cut
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Unread 08-04-2013, 09:28 AM   #8
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No butts here that I know of, it's sometimes possible to get shoulder cuts around 2 pounds, but almost impossible to get the whole shoulder. Well, it might be possible, but I'd need to go to a butcher and make a request. And that would mean at least $6-10 a pound with our meat prices... I'm paying around $3 for a pound right now for the neck.

I've tried the small shoulder cuts, didn't see a big difference in quality compared to neck, and the shoulder comes with skin and a piece of bone. It probably ends up costing more than the neck piece. Usually neck is used to make steaks here and people just grill them. Whole necks are usually just baked in the oven for a long time until they are tender.

Here's an example on how the dry necks looked like:



And here's how the good neck looked like more or less:



(not my pics, the good looking one was from a cook here)

So definitely a difference in texture and marbling, but I find it hard to believe that pork quality has gone down that much in two years.

I'm now thinking that since they weren't that great pieces of meat to begin with, they would've needed to cook more. Also, the bad ones were much better after reheating, so that might also suggest they were undercooked...

I think I'm going to buy one neck, slice it in half and cook the other half to around 200, and the other to around 210. And try which one seems more like buttah ;)

That's not absolutely conclusive, but it's good enough for me :-)

Last edited by rikun; 08-04-2013 at 09:30 AM.. Reason: Smaller image
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Unread 08-04-2013, 09:31 AM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by beer and bbq View Post
Question, if you can get the neck of the pig, where does the rest go that its not available or what do they do with it?
Probably most of it goes to minced meat, Finns eat a lot of minced meat...
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Unread 08-04-2013, 09:33 AM   #10
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Also, got my Linkmeter done today, so I can minimize even more variables with temps..

Yeah I'm pretty scientific even with BBQ
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Unread 08-04-2013, 09:37 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by N8man View Post
a lot of what you are seeing, I believe, is due to the quality of the meats you are cooking, you said it yourself that on two occasions one meat was better marbled than the other and the better marbled one turned out better...
next time cook at 275*, foil the meat at 160* internal with some apple juice added and finish the cook until the meat is probe tender....probably around 200* internal...
and remember, it's just barbecue, have fun with it!!!
Thanks, gotta try 275, that's something I've reserved for my ribs in the past.

Does adding the liquid when foiling really help with keeping the meat moist and tender?

I don't really care for the bark that I get with foiling, and I'd imagine it would be even softer with more liquid in there?

I did one cook with baking paper instead of foil, and I think the bark held up better that way.
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Unread 08-04-2013, 10:27 AM   #12
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These look like pork collars to me. The collar is the upper portion of what we would call a butt, extended back a couple more ribs on the non-US cut. Bottom line is that this should be an excellent cut for pulled pork. There should be ample fat and collagen to give you a moist product. The bottom video here shows an export fabrication and removal of the collar from the long (export) shoulder primal (at about 7:20 in the video). http://www.porkfoodservice.org/Menui...ionVideos.aspx

If I'm looking at this right, the large round at the very middle right of the second picture is the large muscle that sits on top of the shoulder blade. This will be the last muscle to tender up to be able to pull. Probe and temp this muscle to check your cook. You need to be very careful with temps on pork butts and collars because they have so many seams that will carry heat into the interior and not be the 'true' temp.

You don't have a fat cap to protect it, so be very careful with direct heat (I would use a delfector).
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Unread 08-04-2013, 10:51 AM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by rikun View Post
Does adding the liquid when foiling really help with keeping the meat moist and tender?
Yes, this is braising, and the meat will be moist and tender...

Quote:
Originally Posted by rikun View Post
I don't really care for the bark that I get with foiling, and I'd imagine it would be even softer with more liquid in there?
Fair enough, but for me, bark is way overrated. I would much rather have meat that is tender, juicy and melt in the mouth.
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Unread 08-04-2013, 11:17 AM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by MikeJ65 View Post
These look like pork collars to me. The collar is the upper portion of what we would call a butt, extended back a couple more ribs on the non-US cut. Bottom line is that this should be an excellent cut for pulled pork. There should be ample fat and collagen to give you a moist product. The bottom video here shows an export fabrication and removal of the collar from the long (export) shoulder primal (at about 7:20 in the video). http://www.porkfoodservice.org/Menui...ionVideos.aspx

If I'm looking at this right, the large round at the very middle right of the second picture is the large muscle that sits on top of the shoulder blade. This will be the last muscle to tender up to be able to pull. Probe and temp this muscle to check your cook. You need to be very careful with temps on pork butts and collars because they have so many seams that will carry heat into the interior and not be the 'true' temp.

You don't have a fat cap to protect it, so be very careful with direct heat (I would use a delfector).

+1 and very good reply!!!!

I'll add that since you really like your bark and don't like the effect of foiling but are set on pushing through the stall I'd definitely go with the butcher paper method that you said you tried before. It's the best compromise in my opinion for speed and bark.

I'd go 265 till an internal of 165 then wrap in butcher paper and blast her to 325-350 till the large muscle mentioned above probes tender. Make a note as to exactly where it is when you wrap and probe THROUGH the paper instead of unwrapping and checking.
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Unread 08-04-2013, 11:49 AM   #15
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My UDS is set up just like yours I cook the same temp 300-325 No foil No injections. Your problem is the thermometer STOP using it. The only temp that you need concern yourself with is the pit temp. Butts come with a built-in indicator to let you know when it has achieved Nirvana the "Blade Bone". At 300-325 butts average 50 min lb I don't do the metric system so I'll let you do the conversion on that but is is a good indicator as to when Start checking if it ( the Blade Bone) is loose. I the meat is tight to pull It needs to cook longer.
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YOU CAN NOT COOK GREAT BBQ ON A CONSISTENT BASIS BY COOKING TO AN INTERNAL TEMPERATURE OR BY TIME ( XXX MIN PER LB) YOU MUST COOK BY FEEL! For Brisket it must pass the poke test(probe like soft butter in the thickest part of the Flat) Ribs pass the Bend Test, Pork Butts when the bone wiggles loose. These are the only reliable methods to ensure that your cook will be a success. There is one exception to these rules and that is Poultry which must achieve and internal temp of 170 deg in the thickest part of the thigh and 165 in the breast.
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