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Reheating Pulled Pork - VINDICATION!!!

Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 14,717
edited June 2014 in EggHead Forum
I have been saying for years that it is not possible to reheat pulled pork so that it tastes even remotely as good as it did when it was fresh off the cooker. It isn't awful, but it's not close to the same. People here have all sorts of methods; boil-a-bag, Coca-Cola, saucepan with sauce added, oven, etc. All will certainly heat it up, but it will not be as moist, tender and flavorful as when it was fresh. 

So anyway, to my point. I decided to try to get a professional opinion so I called two NC barbecue joints this afternoon - Wilber's in Goldsboro and the Skylight Inn in Ayden (the video I posted yesterday). I told them who and where I was, assured them I didn't work for the competition :) and asked them how they recommended reheating their stuff... "If I bought a pound or two today for tomorrow's lunch, how should I reheat?"

Both said, basically, "Aww, man, you don't wanna do that! I guess you could try a double boiler. Or maybe wrap it in foil and put it in the oven, Do NOT use the microwave! But no matter how you do it, it won't be as good! It just won't"  

They do not reheat theirs of course. That's why you hear chopping all day long. It stays hot and moist better (or can be kept that way) as a whole hog so they leave it whole as long as possible, chopping to stay just ahead of demand.

Had a real nice chat with both places, but especially the Skylight. Great guy, very helpful, we must've talked for at least 15-20 minutes. He even (sort of) gave me their cole slaw recipe.  :D  Will definitely stop there next trip south.

I'm reheating some tonight. Wish I had a better way.

I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

Michael 
Central Connecticut 

Comments

  • buzd504buzd504 Posts: 3,410
    I agree it's never as good as when it's fresh off the smoker, but it can still be pretty good.
    NOLA
  • MickeyMickey Posts: 19,501
    Just back from FL on vacation. Several days before trip did a butt and a ham. Pulled the pork and sliced the ham. Vac PAC into freezer. 800 mile trip in Yeti and just as frozen as at start of trip. Back into freezer. Used the boiling water to heat and I found it just fine. Was it the same: NO. But plenty good enough. IMO
    Salado TX & 30A  FL: Egg Family: 3 Large and a very well used Mini, added a Mini Max when they came out (I'm good for now). 

  • 4Runner4Runner Posts: 2,948
    I agree and that is where sauce comes to the rescue.  :)   I will say it seems to have a more smokey flavor the next day.  I guess sitting in the bag the exposed meat absorbs some of the smoke flavor from the bark.   Anyway, totally agree. I  always add a vinegar based sauce on my leftovers.   Fresh of the butt I will enjoy it "naked"....so to speak.       
    Joe - I'm a reformed gasser-holic aka 4Runner Columbia, SC Wonderful BGE Resource Site: http://www.nakedwhiz.com/ceramicfaq.htm and http://www.nibblemethis.com/  and http://playingwithfireandsmoke.blogspot.com/2006/02/recipes.html
    What am I drinking now?   Woodford....neat
  • SmokyBearSmokyBear Posts: 388
    I dunno..we have pretty awesome leftover pulled pork..just freeze, Vac Pac and re-heat in a saucepan with a little apple juice and sauce.

    SWMBO swears it's just as good if not better than fresh off the smoker.
    Mini BGE, KJ Classic - Black, Cookshack SM025, Weber Gasser (mostly for Kamado storage!)
  • KenfromMIKenfromMI Posts: 742
    Might not be "As" good but it's still good. I cook for just my wife and I so we can't finish a 10lb pork butt in one sitting so we have no choice. 
    Dearborn MI
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 14,717
    KenfromMI said:
    Might not be "As" good but it's still good. I cook for just my wife and I so we can't finish a 10lb pork butt in one sitting so we have no choice. 
    Same here. Except usually it's just me! I have been known to eat four barbecue sandwiches right off the grill because I don't think it will be "still good" later. It will be mediocre at best. If you add it to baked beans, use it as a pizza topping, on a hot dog or something like that, it's okay. Better than "straight" anyway. But that's not why I cook pulled pork. 

    Was hoping for a magic secret from the pros in NC. Sigh...

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

  • SmokeyPittSmokeyPitt Posts: 10,458
    Most of my family likes it better reheated :).


    Which came first the chicken or the egg?  I egged the chicken and then I ate his leg. 

  • SkinnyVSkinnyV Posts: 3,399
    Sauce and slaw....problem solved. My reheated food tastes great.
    Seattle, WA
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 14,717
    I guess you guys just don't have as high a barbecue standard as I do.  :D

    For tonight's pulled pork reheat I added the two things that disappear soon after pork is pulled, gelatin and water. Heated in a covered saucepan over medium heat. Still not as good as fresh, but better than any other method I have tried. Amount to be added will vary depending on how much pork you are reheating. Also used Eastern NC vinegar sauce after meat was on the bun.

    Not great, but better.

    Reading material from Humphrey Chimpden Earwicker who has probably forgotten more about cooking meat than I will ever know.





    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

  • grill4usgrill4us Posts: 100
    For me, the only thing I cook that tastes better reheated is chili.  Anything else just doesn't taste as good as when it was initially made.  It's ok - but it's just leftovers.
  • KenfromMIKenfromMI Posts: 742
    Spaghetti sauce is better second day too besides chili.
    Dearborn MI
  • Melhill3Melhill3 Posts: 40
    I too pull and pack in vac-u-seal bags with a cube of stock and a squirt of BBQ sauce.

    I reheat it in hot water but not boiling
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 14,717
    grill4us said:
    For me, the only thing I cook that tastes better reheated is chili.  Anything else just doesn't taste as good as when it was initially made.  It's ok - but it's just leftovers.
    LASAGNA!! :)

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

  • fishlessmanfishlessman Posts: 27,059
    you have to reheat it in an abt
    :D
    fukahwee maine

    you can lead a fish to water but you can not make him drink it
  • I reheat my pulled pork with a tablespoon of butter per half pound and a splash of apple juice over low heat in a saucepan. Only heat until warm, do not "cook" it. Works better than anything else I've tried.

    Rocky Top, TN — Large BGE • Cast Iron Grate & Platesetter • Rockwood Lump

  • brycosbrycos Posts: 137
    Earwicker said:

    when gelatin cools, it doesn't become collagen again, but it solidifies. and to melt the gelatin AGAIN, so that it would be just as wet as when freshly pulled, well, that requires MORE heat than converting it from collagen in the first place. you'd have to really heat the PP to re-melt it, and that would overly dry out whatever other moisture (water) there might be left.

    my highly super-scientific observation fails to corroborate this conclusion.  (Sorry for the sarcasm).  I don't mean to imply that fresh isn't best, but I've cooked / vac-paked  / simmered and served many butts and have never seen / tasted any solid gelatin.  In fact I've had had dozens of people tell me that it's the best BBQ they've ever had.
  • You called Wilbur's??? My MAN!  That is awesome.  When in doubt, talk to the pros.

    When I do have leftover pulled pork I usually warm it just barely in a pan with a little butter and some extra vinegar sauce.  But eating it as fast as you can after pulling it is the best way to avoid day old BBQ.


    1 LBGE in Chapel Hill, NC
  • smokeywsmokeyw Posts: 367
    I am from NC and I can tell you there is one way to reheat pork that will be just as good as when it was fresh. I take freshly cooked pulled pork (no sauce on it) and vacuum seal in 1 Lb. bags. You can keep it in the freezer for over a year. Take it straight out of the freezer and place it in a pot of boiling water for 20 minutes (still frozen and vacuum sealed). After 20 minutes in the boiling water it will be ready to cut open and eat. It will be just like the day it was cooked.
  • ThatgrimguyThatgrimguy Posts: 4,292
    Sous Vide.
    XL & Small Green Egg, Shirley Fab Trailer, Pitmaker Vault, Blackstone Griddle, 6 gal and 2.5 gal Cajun Fryers, BlueStar 60" Range, 48" Lonestar Grillz Santa Maria
  • nolaeggheadnolaegghead Posts: 35,798
    If you're planning on reheating it, don't pull it, put the intact chunk-o-meat in a foodsaver, suck out all the air and refrigerate/freeze.  Reheat via sous vide or some other water bath in the 140-160F range.  Might take a few hours.  Then pull and serve.  It will be the closest you get to freshly cooked.
    ______________________________________________
    Large and Medium BGE, Kamado Joe Jr, Akorn Jr, big effin' pellet smoker, gas grill, fire pit, FireDisk, pack of angry cats, two turntables and a microphone, my friend.  Registered republican.
    New Orleans, LA - we know how to eat 
    Stike's troll account



  • GaryLangeGaryLange Posts: 404
    We have been using a Crock-pot to reheat the pulled pork and it works for us. Use some juice to make it more moist!
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 14,717
    If you're planning on reheating it, don't pull it, put the intact chunk-o-meat in a foodsaver, suck out all the air and refrigerate/freeze.  Reheat via sous vide or some other water bath in the 140-160F range.  Might take a few hours.  Then pull and serve.  It will be the closest you get to freshly cooked.
    Worth a shot. Plus it's an idea I haven't tried. Now if I can just get it off the grid without it falling apart! Thanks!!

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

  • Judy MayberryJudy Mayberry Posts: 2,015
    Michael, cook it on a frog mat and you'll never have trouble getting it off the grid.
    Judy in San Diego
  • mahenryakmahenryak Posts: 1,324
    I did two 10-lb pork butts last Friday night and into Saturday.  One of them I let cool in foil for a few hours and then placed it in the refrigerator.  Next day I cut the undisturbed butt in half while still cold and vacuum sealed it for later use--placed in freezer.   Regarding the other butt, after the primary, or first meal, we have eaten it in sort of a tortilla wrap which was very good.  To be honest, the rest of it has pretty much been rendered to sandwiches all week long for me at work.  Third day of sandwiches and I can't seem to get enough of it.  I think I'll try @nolaegghead 's re-heating method when I do pull the halves out of the freezer when my family comes up in July/August if we need a quick meal. 
    LG BGE, KJ Jr, Smokin Bros. Premier 36 and Pizza Party Bollore



  • jllbmsjllbms Posts: 381
    I reheated some pulled pork last night over high heat in a non-stick skillet. Added small amount of water during the process and lidded it. It came out as good as any reheated PP that I've had.
    Kemah, TX
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 14,717
    Yep, sometimes I steam it too. Except I usually use a steamer basket. Better than most methods I've tried. Which isn't to say it's what I'm looking for.  :(

    I hate it when I go to the kitchen for food and all I find are ingredients!                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

    Michael 
    Central Connecticut 

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