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Butt - Pulling on Day 2

Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,560
edited January 2012 in EggHead Forum
i made my first butt last night.  Had hoped to eat around 7pm, but it went slower than expected and it came off the grill at 10:30pm.  After letting it sit for a little while, I wrapped it whole in foil and put it in the fridge. 
Any suggestions on whether to partially reheat the Butt then pull, or pull it cold and reheat the pulled meat.  If pull it cold, any tricks on the reheat or just use a covered pan and low oven temp?
Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.


  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,560
    didn't save the juice.  Was looking forward to making sandwiches so it is ok if doesn't look the greatest.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,540
     If you haven't sliced it already your best bet is to reheat it and pull it. That is if you want it to resemble pulled pork.
  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,540
    edited January 2012

    Did you ever try to pull a whole butt that has been refrigerated? If you
    had then its you trying to steer the OP in the wrong direction. And if you
    never have then why would you give advice on something you know nothing
    about? I've done it and it is a lot more work then pulling it when it is still hot.

    My advice to the OP, take everything tweev says with a grain of salt
    because you never know if he is really trying to be helpful. Most times
    he has another agenda.

  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,540
    edited January 2012
    Ahh, your just kidding again like you always do right?  :x
  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,540
    edited January 2012

    some people never learn, have some more rope......

  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,560
    edited January 2012
    Just finished dinner a little while ago. Here's what I did: 

    I left it double wrapped in foil and brought it up to about 100* in the oven at 225.  Took more than hour.  I was nervous about going too high for fear of drying it out.  When I unwrapped it, I could feel it would fall apart so I just pulled it.  It fell apart nicely.  In a few places I could have sliced it, but pulling it worked well.  By the time I was done and it was served, it was back down to room temp.  I **gasp** zapped my sandwich for 20 seconds to warm it up.  Tasted good and it wasn't dry.  Some of the bark, especially a little bit with fat in it, I put on foil and broiled in the toaster over for 2 minutes to get it hot crispy, similar to what I do with day old turkey skin.

    I wish I had taken out the fridge earlier so that it was at room temp before heating.  I thought about putting it in ziplock and submerging in warm water to speed up the process of bringing it to room temp, but did not bother.

    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,540
    edited January 2012

    Glad everything turned out good.

    I have one more question, Have you ever checked your thermometer to make sure it is accurate? This could be a cause for cooking times to be off.

    Here is a guide:

    FWIW I have no idea why someone would suggest that cooling it as fast as
    possible should be your goal. I've never heard that before. In fact it is not uncommon to wrap it and
    let it rest before pulling it. This helps to redistribute the juices thoughout the meat.


  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,540
    edited January 2012
    Actually the bacteria forms on the outside of meat, where it is exposed
    to air. I'm not going to go into the safe handling of meat because off
    hand I can't give you all the facts accurately.  Maybe you can educate
  • Hungry JoeHungry Joe Posts: 1,540
    I'm just not really sure what it is you are trying to prove here. I
    understand what pasteurization is. What does this have to do with
    internal temperature of a roast? Does that mean eating a rare or medium
    rare steak is unsafe? How does bacteria make it to the center of a
    boston butt unless it is seriously mishandled?
  • jerrypjerryp Posts: 230

    the best way to reheat pulled pork that I've found is to put it into a ziptop freezer bag, press out as much air as possible, and drop it into boiling water to bring it up to temp.

  • gerhardkgerhardk Posts: 938
    How does bacteria make it to the center of a
    boston butt unless it is seriously mishandled?
    I think the reasons for cooking to safe temp are to kill bacteria so I would agree that pasteurization is the goal.

  • I cooked a 7 pound butt and refrigerated overnight.  Did a lot of research on this website and wish I remembered who to credit.  Heated in oven at 300 covered in foil until internal temp of meat reached "North of 150," as the poster put it.  Then pulled it.  Very juicy and tender.  My brother was visiting from North Carolina (where they know something about pulled pork), so called him over when I started to pull to see "if it looked right."  My actual motive was to brag, which he called me on right away.  My conclusion on this cook is that pork butt is more forgiving than I thought, and probably didn't need to worry as much as I did.  Glad yours turned out so well.
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,560
    Joe, checking the therometer was on my to-do list so this was the motivation to do it. Just did the check. Looks to be within a five degrees or less of expected, based upon the boiling water test. 

    I would have thought the reason for the rapid cooling was stop the brisket from further cooking.  My wife is a nervous nelly on bacteria.  Me, I remember how lax things were growing up and nobody got sick because something sat out of the fridge for an extra couple hours.
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    there's no bacteria in a butt that you need to worry about, unless it is boneless (was cut open, handled, tied back together)
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • my .02 

    When finished cooking put the butt in a oven bag and wrap in towel place it in a cooler for at least 30 minutes this lets the butt rest and finish rendering all of that connective tissue. After 30 min so take it out and the meat will crumble in your hands at this point I put it all in tuperware place it outsided to cool (Wisconsin) and then freeze it.  Upon reheating all of the juice and flavor will still be in the meat. It makes for great dinners when no one wants to cook.
  • Ragtop99Ragtop99 Posts: 1,560
    I've seen others talk about wrapping it in a towel and putting it in a cooler.  What does wrapping it in a towel do?
    Cooking on an XL and Medium in Bethesda, MD.
  • Serves as insulation.
  • TheophanTheophan Posts: 2,127
    @Ragtop99, please be aware that big hunks of meat can stay MUCH warmer in the middle than you might suppose, and can take many hours to cool, even in the refrigerator.  That means that even though you put it in the fridge, the middle of that beast might be spending a loooooong time in the temperature "danger zone" that's lower than 140 and higher than 40.  That's an important reason to pull it into shreds before refrigerating it:  You can wrap or bag several smaller portions that are much less thick and massive, and that, if you space them around in a cold refrigerator, will cool MUCH faster than the original big hunk of meat.

    The same thing can happen in reheating a big hunk of meat.  It gets hot on the outside, but inside it's spending a long time in a temperature zone where bacteria can multiply frighteningly fast.  And some bacteria, like Staph and Bacillus cereus, make a toxin, a poison, that doesn't get destroyed by cooking.  So even if you get the meat hot enough (at last) to kill all of the bacteria, if there was a time before it got that hot when those bacteria were "doing their thing," you and the people you served it to may wind up desperately sick.

    Here is a free booklet available online (PDF) that explains some really helpful things about cooking, refrigerating and reheating large enough quantities of food to feed a group, which is almost always what we're doing when we smoke a bunch of stuff:

  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    at theophan...after you have cooked a piece of meat, please explain how the bacteria are introduced into the interior again where they can multiply during reheating....
    they can't.

    this isn't a lasagna served at a buffet, stirred with a licked spoon and coughed over, then kept at ideal bacterial temps, reheated thru the same temps, and then served again.

    the rules are a generalization, and not entirely applicable to this case.

    those rules do not permit me to leave an apple out on the counter for three days.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • TheophanTheophan Posts: 2,127
    ...after you have cooked a piece of meat, please explain how the bacteria are introduced into the interior again where they can multiply during reheating....
    they can't.
    You seem very knowledgeable, so I'm not saying you're wrong or I'm right, and I hope it's clear I'm not trying to fight with you!  I've enjoyed and benefited from many of your posts on both forums, and I look to you as someone I can learn from!

    But here's how I understand this issue, anyway.  First, "cooked" and "sterilized" aren't the same thing.  Our bodies can handle a certain amount of bacteria without getting sick.  Perhaps sometimes, no kidding, a hunk of cooked meat actually has zero bacteria in it.  But meat that's perfectly safe to eat might still have a few bacteria in it, way too few to make us sick, but a few that can become zillions if given the right conditions.

    Second, though, most of the knowledge on food safety is empirical -- based simply on observing what happens.  When there are outbreaks of food poisoning, people investigate and try to figure out what caused it.  And the people who investigate such things make very clear that sometimes the cause appeared to have been food that was improperly reheated.  Maybe you're right that the guidelines they issue don't apply to some of our specific BBQ practices, but last year I specifically looked into food poisoning and BBQ, and I found very frightening how many case reports I found of people sent to the hospital and some people dying from pulled pork barbecue cooked by experienced people who had been cooking BBQ for many years.  And when I learned that salty hams have caused severe food poisoning both because they didn't get as hot, deep inside, as quickly as people had supposed, and they didn't cool down, deep inside, as quickly as people had supposed, and the result was severe illness, holy moly, that says to me that we can't necessarily count on the meat deep in the middle of big hunks to be sterile!  Just a few bacteria can become zillions of them if given the right conditions.

    I think that it's less black-or-white than it might seem.  I think that "cooked" and "safe to eat" don't always mean bacteriologically sterile, and that following the guidelines developed by people who have carefully studied how food poisoning occurs is a really good idea.  And those guidelines certainly do allow you to leave an apple on the counter for three days, as I think you know perfectly well...  ;)

    Again, I respect you knowledge and experience, and I enjoy reading your posts and learning from them!  I won't claim to be an expert on this, and maybe I'm wrong, but this is how I understand it, anyway.

  • tfoutchtfoutch Posts: 76

    The way bacteria can be introduced into the middle of a hugh hunk of meat is by circulation of the blood when the hunk was used by the animal it was attached to.  There is probably always SOME bacteria at all times in the blood stream and tissures of every living organism, so Theophan's arguments have merit.  Hopefully, safe-handling techniques limit the time the bacteria (pathogens specifically) have the ability to reporduce and reach critical mass quantities to cause illness. 

    No way to sterilize meat and it still be edible, just reducing pathogen populations to acceptable levels I would think. 

    TFOUTCH Algood, Tennessee
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    edited January 2012
    there is bacteria everywhere.  i didn't say there wasn't.  but let's understand that it is not all bad.  there are more bacteria on you right now than there are cells in your body.  that is fact. 

    additionally, your toothbrush has e. coli on it, and you let it sit out for weeks on end.

    why are you not concerned?

    well, i can tell you that you won't get sick from bacteria, even e. coli (the stuff on your toothbrush) unless it is the DANGEROUS strain, or a dangerous bacteria.  your gut is teeming with e. coli.  just not the bad strain.

    so, a chunk of meat.  yep, bacteria in the blood.  bacteria in the meat.  prosciutto is a salt cured chunk of pig which has been bled, salted, and (at least in parts of italy) pressed at ambient temp while it cures.  the interior rocking along at room temp for years, even before the salt gets a chance to reach the center and cure the meat.  there is some thinking that there are beneficial bacteria (see Harold McGee) which additionally transform the prok into 'prosciutto'.  so yeah, bacteria can exist in meat.

    but we need to understand that it is not 'all' bacteria we need to worry about.

    the bacteria of concern in slaughtered animals is that which is found not in the blood of the animal, but in th animal's gut.  if that bacteria, during slaughter,  comes into contact with the meat, that is a bad thing. 

    but it isn't going to get INTO the meat.  unless, like hamburger, you grind it.

    having typed this a bajillion times in a futile attempt to stem the panic, i'll try again.

    why is it i can eat a steak at 125 safely, but if i were to grind that steak first and then cook it, i need to cook it to 160? it's because, i will have risked mixing external bacteria (which might be from the gut of the animal) into the interior of the burger.  that bacteria would safely reside there at 125, in a burger, so i'd better cook it higher to be safe.  in a whole piece of un-molested meat, the danger is on the exterior.

    my point about this poor bastard's pork butt is that after 5, 6, seven hours in the grill, anything on the exterior is DEAD.  unless he rolls it around on some bacterially suspect killing floor, or otherwise contaminates it (puts it out on a buffet line for a typhoid carrier to cough on), his meat is fine.

    although this meat is not 'cured' in any sense, we can still aply the logic.  i can hang an uncooked leg of pork in my basement at ambient temps (right now, 70 ish) because i have taken pains to make it inhospitable to dangerous bacteria.  salt, etc.

    the lesson isn't that we need to cure a pork butt for it to be safe in the grill if the fire goes out, we need to understand whether the meat is in a state which is inhospitable to bacteria.

    let's see.

    salted (rub) on the exterior after rinsing. that's precaution one (and actually the real reason meat ever received salt and pepper to begin with, to dissuade any bacteria from getting a foothold.  and to keep away things that bring bacteria, like flies).

    put into a 250 degree environment.  well.  that exterior bacteria, whatever survived the salt, anyway, will quickly be killed off by virtue of the heat.

    smoke. not an ally of bacteria. another strike against it.

    then i look at the fact that this guy's pork was 130 when he took its temp again.  which means it was ABOVE that.  his re-lit 300 degree fire did not raise a cold piece of meat 130.  that meat was still cooling, and he found it to be at 130. it will still lose heat even in a climbing oven. 

    i don't want to brow beat anyone into eating something they don't feel safe about.  i just, personally, cannot operate willy-nilly, guessing and conjecturing. 

    after a person throws out their first chunk of pork, they should really sit down and research what the heck is going on, and don't simply take a vote from anonymous online people about whether it is safe or not.

    and they shouldn't take my less conservative advice (who the hell am i) any more than they should take the advice of anyone else, even if more conservative.

    they should know what they are doing when they do it.

    i've thrown out a couple butts in my time too.  but now i am not guessing or wishing when i do.

    as for sterilizing meat and still making it edible.  i don't know what that means.  there's a lot of excellent information out there about how food is and can be pasteurized, especially with the sous vide craze taking hold.

    food can be made ridiculously safe, if not technically 'sterile'.  again, 'bacteria' are not bad.  SOME bacteria are.

    if you do not know why you can eat an apple that's been in your fruit bowl for a week, but you will toss out a steak left on the counter for four hours, then time to so some homework.

    i cannot remember a story in recent news about a person getting sick from any whole piece of meat. it has lately been unwashed vegetables, spinach, or ground meat.  even if there were a case of someone getting sick from whole meat, it would be outnumbered by so many other stories of tomato recalls, that it is statistically far less significant.

    face it, people are afraid of what they don't understand.  and when that fear has a tiny bit of truth to it, but is otherwise not  quite accurate, the tiny bit of truth is what is clung to and pointed to, rather than the whole picture.

    witness how many more people are afraid of flying than driving in a car.  there's no underestimating the power of the human mind to misunderstand risk

    carpaccio anyone? rare steak? sunnyside eggs?


    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • tfoutchtfoutch Posts: 76
    edited January 2012

    Hey, I'm not debating the safety of your meat or methods, and do not disagree with Stike, simply answering the question "please explain how bacteria can be intorduced into the interior of the meat...".  Note as well, I refered specifically to "pathogens" in my post as well, so I am aware all bacteria are not bad.

    I think my point agrees directly with yours in that we do not need meat to be "sterile" to be safe, but we should take precautions. 

    Thanks for the useful info, just please recognize that all comments that do not directly echo yours are not meant to be hostile nor call into question your thoughts, but more importantly, are part of a CONVERSATION, a DISCUSSION.  I know some here have been hanging around for many years, and have answered the same question over and over, but that does not mean the indivicuals on the thread have heard the answer more than once.

    I promise, I am not being combative here. 

    TFOUTCH Algood, Tennessee
  • stikestike Posts: 15,597
    i'm not being combative either... a longish explanation is meant to sketch a wider picture and allow for a discussion.

    sometimes posts (mine too, it happens to everyone) seem a bit like "well, i found one minor point that contradicts you, so there", which is why i go to greater lengths to explain my rationale.  it's a double-edged sword: reply with a quick answer and get accused of trying to shut someone down or explain too much and appear like you're berating them.

    i wouldn't type all this stuff if i didn't think a conversation wasn't good.

    i will always err on the side of too much explanation. i think if a person can explain what they are thinking, all the better.  i find zero use in just my posting a link saying "see this".  apologies if you think i am gunning for you.
    ed egli avea del cul fatto trombetta -Dante
  • BotchBotch Posts: 6,335
    Interesting discussion, folks; thanks!
    I'll just add two short points: first, if you've cooked your pork butt to 195, core temperature, all the bacteria are dead (there ARE bacteria that can live at 195, but they only exist in Yellowstone hot springs).  When you put the whole butt into the frig (or your Wisconsin back porch) bacteria can land on the surface as soon as it cools enough to survive.  Now, its a race!  Will the refrigeration lower the meat to a safe level before the bacteria manages to reproduce and invade the interior of the meat?  My bet's on the refrigeration.  Theophan brought up an interesting point: a ham is only heated to 140 core temp, some bacteria won't be killed at that temp, and that's related to my second point.
    Two, what can introduce bacteria into the center of a warm, or hot, large piece of meat?  While I use a digital thermometer to track my cooking temperature, I'll bet I'm not the only one, once the meat's off the cooker and sitting on my cutting board, to spot-check the meat here and there with my Thermopen!  Oops, I may have to rethink that habit!  
    Live fast, die young, and leave a well-marbled corpse.  
    Ogden, Utard.  
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