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Pulled Pork Temp

BrianBrian Posts: 73
edited 3:47AM in EggHead Forum
I keep reading to get the butt up to internal temp of 200 for pulled pork. I tried for about 28 hours to get there and just couldn't do it. It maxed out at about 185. But they I thought, pork is done at much lower temps than that, so why try and get it soo hot and risk drying it out. Can anyone explain that or why I couldn't get the meat up any hotter (cooking at 250)?


  • sdbeltsdbelt Posts: 267
    Brian,[p]You didn't mention the size of your butt, so it is possible for a really big butt to need 28+ hours of cook time. The high temp is partly needed to do just what you suggest: dry out the meat. A pork shoulder is very fatty, and what the high temp does is immulsifies that fat, so that it drips out of the butt, and into the pan below. Since the shoulder is so fatty, this high temp doesn't actually dry it out, in the sense we think of in relation to chicken, for example. But rather it just renders enough of the fat to yield a relatively lean piece of meat.[p]I try to imagine it this way: There's a huge fat layer on the top, and I want to melt that fat, and get it to drain through the meat and drip out the bottom. That's going to take a long time, and unless the butt is really hot, the fat will stall part the way through the meat, as it "warms up" and solidifies.[p]The other thing the really high temp does, is that it starts to break down the muscle tissue of the meat, so that it's more tender. A hard working muscle like a shoulder shouldn't be tender, but cooked this way, it transforms like magic. Some people have suggested that 205+ is better than 200 or 195. I can confirm that 200 is better than 195, but I've never run a butt up to 205 (just not patient enough, I guess). I can also confirm that the longer the stall lasts in the 165 range, the leaner the meat and the more tender the meat.[p]One other thing I would suggest is that once the butt breaks out of the stall temp, you can safely cook it at a dome temp as high as 275 until you reach the desired internal temp. Speeding up this phase of the cook doesn't seem to have any affect on the result.[p]BTW, I made two 5+lb butts two Saturdays back. They took 15 hours, cooking them at 225 until the stall, and then bumping it up to 265-275 after the internal temp was 170+. During the entire cook I opened the lid once, to show a neighbor, or it might have finished faster. The result was just superb. I really, really like making pulled pork. It's probably my favorite cook.[p]Enjoy![p]--sdb
  • SpinSpin Posts: 1,375
    Brian,[p]You are correct, pork is safe for consumption when the internal temperature reaches 160°F.[p]Both the Boston butt and the picnic cuts (together a whole shoulder - many names for either cut) are from the front legs and shoulder area of the pig. As these muscles are used heavily used by the animal, they contain lots of collagen and connective tissue dispursed thoughout the meat. Cooked to 160°F and then eaten, the result is similiar to pork bubble gum. Thus the low and slow cooking method was developed to cook this tough piece of meat.[p]A long cook using lower cooking temperatures allows the collagen and connective tissue to break down into the liquid flavoring bastes the meat and makes pulled pork so special. When watching the internal temperature rise, you will notice steady rise from the start of the cook to the "plateau". The plateau is the internal temperature range where the collagen breaks down into liquid, leaving tender meat. The plateau is very noticable as the internal temperature (160-170°F) will stall in its rise. The stall can be from 2-6 hours, depending on the size of the cut and the cooking temperature.[p]The goal of the cook is to break down all of the collagen while rendering much of the fat prior to removing. This produces the tenderest meat. Drying is only a concern on the surface - that is why a nice layer of fat covering the cut during the cook is useful.[p]Since cooking to a tender doneness requires a learned "feel" of the meat, it is more successful cook to an internal temperature to judge doneness. Once the collagen is mostly broken down, the internal temperature will again begin to rise faster (170-175°F). At this point, raise the cooking temperature to 275-300°F. This will speed the finish without adversely affecting the result. The extra internal temp doesn't dry the meal, just ensures a good breakdown of any remaining collagen and fat.[p]Twenty Eight hours is a long cook, but I have had some go 25. Check your dome temperature gauge to ensure it is accurate.[p]I'd bet the end result was great. I'd like your comments on it.[p]Spin
  • Brian,[p]Here'a great website that discusses cuts of meat.[p][p]Enjoy
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