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How do you keep pulled pork moist?

McPhreakMcPhreak Posts: 42
edited 6:47PM in EggHead Forum
I made some pulled pork for a party last night and it turned out fantastic. The only thing I noticed is that the meat tends to dry out fairly quickly after it's been pulled. Is there any trick people use to keep their pulled pork moist over a long period? I suppose one way would be to just keep adding back some form of liquid from time to time, but I would prefer it if there were a way to retain the moisture already present in the pork. Any suggestions?


  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,010
    As far as I'm concerned, if you don't eat it fresh off the grill, it will never be as good again. I seem to be in the minority around here, but none of the reheating methods I have tried come even remotely close. I think my next butt will be a 3 pounder. Less waste that way.

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


    Central Connecticut 

  • deepsouthdeepsouth Posts: 1,796
    i add some organic chicken broth to it before i reheat it. seems to work nicely.
  • :) I add a vinegar finishing sauce to serve;
    moisten with some of the finishing sauce and dry rub for reheating;
    only difference in fresh and reheated is the crunchy bark -- if there is any left :woohoo:
    (usually is :lol: )
  • Can of Coca-Cola mixed in and reheat.
    Wilson, NC
    Large BGE - WiFi Stoker - Thermapen - 250 Cookbooks

  • Mark0525Mark0525 Posts: 1,232
    I have to disagree with Carolina Q. I made pulled pork about a month ago and when it cooled I froze a lot of it. Friday night I defrosted it and added a can of coke to the pork and put it in a crock pot. Sauced it and fed 10 guys. 24 sandwiches and it was as good as the first day. I'm making 2 more butts this friday night for my daughters graduation party and will freeze the leftovers.
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    Below is a summary of the information I've collected on the subject of reheating liquids for pork. Some information is from my cookin' notes, some from interviews, podcasts, cookbooks or magazine articles as well replies to the poll question I posted on 3 Q sites. The most popular responses are listed first in each list. Some responses mentioned a pinch of this or a splash of something like Worcestershire. These things were omitted. Likewise I did not break down specific brands of BBQ sauce.

    Cooking juice was mentioned often. This generally referred to juices collected in the foil during the resting period, not juices collected if meats were cooked in foil or in pans. De-fatting the juice was not mentioned very often, the exception was de-fatting juices when meats were COOKED in pans or foil. Coca-Cola & apple juice are used a lot, both straight and as an added ingredient. When BBQ sauce is used it is usually thinned out with another liquid. Mostly it is to add flavor, but some adjust the thickness to make the pulled or chopped meats "sticky" so they hang on a bun better. Vinegar + water (or apple cider) + cayenne, one of my favorites, was not mentioned as often as I thought it would be. Sprite was only mentioned once. The reasoning is that the citrus adds some "brightness" to the product. Only about 25% of folks added more dry seasonings or rub after pulling the beef or pork.

    Apple juice + cooking juice
    Apple juice + chicken broth
    Apple juice + cooking juice + cider vinegar
    Coca-Cola + chicken broth
    Coca Cola + BBQ sauce
    Apple juice
    Apple juice + cider vinegar
    Dr. Pepper + cooking juice
    RC Cola + sauce
    Cider vinegar + water
    Vinegar + water (or apple cider)
    Fruit nectar
    Pineapple juice + sauce
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,010
    That's ok - everyone else disagrees with me too. :)

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


    Central Connecticut 

  • Rib BonesRib Bones Posts: 449
    Thanks for taking the time to pull this together...great info!!!
  • thirdeyethirdeye Posts: 7,428
    It was some cut and paste from an article on my site. I also have reheating liquids for brisket and BBQ beef.
    Happy Trails

    Barbecue is not rocket surgery
  • blindmelonblindmelon Posts: 31
    i use apple juice and mix around.
  • Mark0525Mark0525 Posts: 1,232
    sorry, it's just a matter of opinion. I didn't think I would like it warmed up either. Wasn't personal :)
  • there's a good reason why it won't be the same...

    the "moisture" that everyone enjoys when they pull a freshly cooked butt is collagen. sure, there's some residual moisture (water) in the meat. but it quickly evaporates off. when you cut into a pork chop cooked to say 135, and it is moist, that moisture is water, and hasn't been driven off.

    but the moisture (i know YOU know this, but a lot of folks don't consider it) in a pulled pork butt is almost entirely melted gelatin.

    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.

    so you really end up resorting to adding other re-wetting 'agents' to lubricate the meat. sauce, coke, broth, etc.

    best thing to add if you really wanted to replicate fresh PP is pork broth-flavored jello (flavorless gelatin mixed with broth). because that's what you had originally lubricating the meat. no one does this of course, i'm just being literal for the sake of illustrating.

    it's counter-intuitive, but Harold McGee has explained it for us a few times: pulled pork really is DRY, overcooked pork. luckily, in the act over slowly overcooking it (so that it would fall aprt and be less tough), we allowed the collagen to break down into gelatin, which disguises the dryness. the now-small bits of fiber are broken apart (no longer tough), and the gelatin lubricates it, making us think it is "moist" (with water/juices).

    sure, there's some water left, but not much. and after pulling, it's GONE, evaporating from the serving dish.

    if you tried it with a pork chop, you'd also get pullable tender pork (it would fall apart), but there'd be little or no gelatin to re-moisten it for you. the moisture is gone, and the gelatin is missing. too dry.

    pulled pork is a magic act, and like any decent trick, shoudldn't really be repeated.... :laugh: ...unless you start with a fresh butt of course
  • Carolina QCarolina Q Posts: 13,010
    stripstike wrote:
    pulled pork is a magic act, and like any decent trick, shoudldn't really be repeated.... :laugh: ...unless you start with a fresh butt of course

    Hmm. That's what I said! :lol:

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


    Central Connecticut 

  • BacchusBacchus Posts: 6,019
    Leftover, dried out BBQ is why God invented BBQ sauce.

    Fresh smoked Que needs no sauce.

    Coca Cola is for drinking!

    All just my opinion of course. :)
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