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Pulled Pork Vs Kid Chef

post #1 of 15
Thread Starter 

I recently was asked to assist in the new opening of a restaurant. The Chef has a menu item that requires pulled pork.

 

His method:

1. Season the pork generously.

2. DO NOT cut the pork. Cook the whole block of pork as is. Only score the skin side about 1/2 inch deep. (this, he says, is the key to the muscle fibers breaking down)

3. 12inch Hotel pan, with roasting rack, and water to the rack.

4. Cover with foil, and oven for 3-4 hours.

5. Pull at 150 to let carryover to 165. 

And walah, pulled pork.

 

Correct me if I'm wrong but isn't pulled pork supposed to reach ridiculous temps (190-250) and need much more water depending on the thickness of the meat and not the height of the rack beneath it?

 

I didn't want to work on the pork since I was pretty confident that it wouldn't be pulled pork at 165 degrees after 3 hours, and knew better than to argue with the Chef.

 

Sure enough someone else jumped at the task and when the pork came out at 155, and was not pullable, he freaked out. 

 

The guy working on the pork called the Chef. When the Chef got there, he was pissed at noticing two things:

1. The pork had reached 160F, and so it is "overcooked".

2. The pork was not scored, which is the sole reason why it was not pull-able.

 

I thought everyone was joking, or playing a cruel trick on me. I would actually be relieved if it was a cruel joke. But I will never forget that day when they threw those same whole perfectly good pork butts in the garbage. 

 

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Am I wrong, and just missing something? 


Edited by lukky13 - 12/4/14 at 11:18am
post #2 of 15

Lower temperature for a much longer period of time. You could pull it at 160 if it has been cooking for 7 or 8 hrs and you would have broken down the fat and connective tissues enough that it would be pull-able. I have done pork butts at a higher temp for less time but we're talking 350 for 5-6 hours still.

post #3 of 15

Pork will not pull at 150 and I doubt it would pull very well at 165 either.  190 (overcooked) is the target temp for pulled pork... then sauced to counterbalance dryness.  I do pulled pork in the oven, low and slow - more on the order of 250 degF for 10 hours for a pork shoulder, and it turns out as a mediocre substitute for real smoking... but it sure beats nothing at all.

 

Somebody is missing something, but it isn't you.

post #4 of 15

Yeah definitely too low a temperature for pulled pork.  The magic of smoking pulled pork aside from the low temperature and smoke is the humidity of the smoker compared to your oven.   The point of low and slow is to give time for all the fat and collagen to melt out.  So even though your pork protein is heated to a point of denaturing and squeezing out water, it is getting basted in fat and collagen rendering.  In this case, I would say you're right and the recipe is a problem.

 

I know some people swear by temperatures, but the point that it's done is not always the same.  It can be 190 or maybe higher or a little lower.  I like to go with bone in picnic shoulder and give it the ole wiggle test.  If the bone wiggles away from the meat and the thermometer goes in easy, then it's done. 

post #5 of 15

Yea I've never actually temp. probed my pork butts since I cooked at 225 for 8+ hours. So maybe the temperature has been higher than I thought. I do know that when pressed for time I have bumped the temp to 350 and cooked for shorter runs but like I said that was a minimum 5 hrs. I've never had a problem with dryness but I leave the fat cap on top.

post #6 of 15
Thread Starter 

Thank you, i feel a bit more confident with my own understanding about how to cook pulled pork.

 

Is it safe to say that scoring the skin-side of the pork has little to no effect with the resulting tenderness of the pork? 

 

To set my mental notes straight -- a few key elements to a good oven-made pulled-pork could be noted as:

 

1. A good sear to help [add flavor]1

2. Adequate liquid

3. Sufficient/tight wrap (e.g. foil) to prevent excess liquid evaporation.

4. low and slow cooking process, or slightly higher and still long cooking process.

5. Fat not cut off to act as a sort of natural baster to help keep meat moist.

6. Allowing the meat to rest for 30 minutes while juices settle.

 

~~~~~~

1. Changed from [seal in juices], Edited thanks to corrective input from @eastshores


Edited by lukky13 - 12/4/14 at 2:44pm
post #7 of 15

Scoring has absolutely nothing to do with this.

I would also note searing doesn't "seal in" juices. That has been dis-proven. Searing does add flavor and since you are forgoing the bark you would get from smoking a pork butt I think it would be helpful for your end product.

post #8 of 15
Quote:
Originally Posted by BrianShaw View Post
 

Pork will not pull at 150 and I doubt it would pull very well at 165 either.  190 (overcooked) is the target temp for pulled pork... then sauced to counterbalance dryness.  I do pulled pork in the oven, low and slow - more on the order of 250 degF for 10 hours for a pork shoulder, and it turns out as a mediocre substitute for real smoking... but it sure beats nothing at all.

 

Somebody is missing something, but it isn't you.


I take pork butt to 195 all the time and they are not dried out! Key is low and slow cooking to let all the good connective tissues break down and absorb into the meat.

post #9 of 15

It sounds to me like there should be a job opening for the Chef position where OP works. 

post #10 of 15
AFAIK, it is impossible to pull pork at 160 no matter how long it cooks or at what temperature. It starts pulling at around 185ish. 190-210 is pretty much set in stone as the proper pulling temp. At around 160 you have what is called the "plateau" of the meat. This is the temp that it hangs up on for up to a full hour or more and does not rise very much from the 160-170 temp range in that hour (or more). What is happening during the "plateau" period is, what the others described, the connective tissues are breaking down in this temp range. The meat will stall and won't rise in temp very much and newbs tend to freak out and raise the temp of the smoker/oven at this point because it seems to take forever for the meat to cook. Don't sweat it though, it is working all it's magic at this point. You will notice that after it is done with this, the temp will rise quite steadily and before you know it, it has hit 190 and is ready to pull. Scoring has nothing to do with it. Low and Slow is all you need to know when it comes to pork shoulder. The bone will wiggle out when it is ready. 
post #11 of 15

Need a new chef? I can't seem to find a decent chef job where I'm at...

post #12 of 15

165 is about the temp that the magic starts to happen., usually closer to 170. I don't use a thermometer much now, but back in earlier days I did.  When a particular hunk of pork gets to the plateau temp it can go up or down a few degrees during the process, and for typical 7 - 9 pound hunk of shoulder the process takes at least an hour, if not two. The recipe in the original post was doomed to failure from the start.

 

mjb.

Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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Food nourishes my body.  Cooking nourishes my soul.
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post #13 of 15

This reminds me of a story along the same lines.

Kid Chef asked me to make baked beans from scratch.

When I came in to work Chef had a tall stock pot on the stove filled 1/2 way with beans and topped with water. It was 10:00 am.

I knew that these beans had to be split into 3 pots or else they'd never cook, but still I had to play out the game.

At 3:30 pm, the beans were still hard and I had to refill the pot with water many times.

 

Anyway............It does sound like the Chef's position will be available soon.....

post #14 of 15

Brian, as Mary said, well cooked pulled pork will not be dry even though it is cooked to 190-210.  Pulled pork does not "need" to be sauced.  While I like to eat my pulled pork North Carolina style with just a bit of thin, vinegary sauce drizzled over the meat, it does not require the sauce for moisture.  It's more there to cut the rich fattiness of the shoulder and give a bit of a kick of heat.  I hate when I get pulled pork that is drowned in sauce.  Only places that don't know what they are doing need sauce to moisten their pulled pork.

post #15 of 15

I hear you Pete and Mary: I think we are in violent agreement but seeing the impact of regional differences.  I didn't mean "dry" to be interpreted as "sawdust".  There are many parts of the country where "places who know what they are doing" serve saucy pulled pork because that is what the locals like.  That is my preference too... but I have eaten BBQ all over the country and can see why others have different opinions that are equally as valid.

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