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Need Help- July 4th Pulled Pork

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Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 6:46 am
CharredGriller User avatar
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Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

I need a bit of help. The owner of a local bar has asked me to do pulled pork for July 4th. I've checked out almost all of the threads in this forum, but I still have a question or two.

Here's the scenario. I'll be cooking eight 4-5 lb pork shoulders, using my charcoal water smoker. My smoker is a Texas brand smoker, similar to the Materbuilt smokers (if anyone's heard of them), but not quite as good as a Weber. I'll be using the basic pulled pork recipe from How To Grill (with a couple of tweaks here and there to the spice rub and sauce, of course).

And yes, if things work out I'll definitely post some pictures.

I'll be using charcoal briquettes and hardwood chunks, since the bar owner already has a few bags of Kingsford. In addition, I've got 8 lbs of lump and a bag of hickory chips if I need them. My smoker temperature will average around 250 degrees for most of the cooking time.

Here's the possible complication: I've got 14 hours on Saturday to smoke the butts, and 2-3 hours on Sunday. The owner doesn't want me pulling an all nighter on the patio of his bar. So, the cooking might need to be done over 2 days.

Also, the most I've ever done on this particular smoker is three 5 lb butts- and these took about 1 1/2 hours longer to cook than one butt alone. I'm concerned that I'll run out of time if I'm doing 8 roasts.

Here are my questions:

1) Does anyone think there could be a problem with smoking the butts a day before the event, putting them in the cooler overnight, and then finishing them the next day- provided that I can get it back up to pulling temperature (190-195 degrees)?

2) If I do manage to finish cooking the pork the day before (Saturday), should I pull the pork that day and reheat the shredded pork on Sunday, or should I reheat the entire butt and then pull it on the Sunday? (My guess is the first one.)

3) Does anyone here think that 14 hours won't be enough to cook the quantity of meat I'm using? (Remember, it's 40 lbs of meat, but it's in small roasts- 5 lbs or so)

I'm looking forward to your responses.

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:00 am
Big D well done
well done

Posts: 616
Location: Toronto, Ontario, Canada
If you finish Saturday I would pull the pork then and place it in an aluminium baking sheet, put it in the fridge and simply reheat it sunday... this is one food that still taste great when reheated....

as for enough time, it will require carefully planning and attention to detail but as long as you are fine handiling the logistics I think you should "pull it off"

good luck

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:28 am
RichD medium-well

Posts: 280
Location: New Jersey
You are going to need to time your plan carefully. You will not want to start cooking then stop and finish it the next day. It will still take a consederable amount of time to bring them back up to temp. If possible I would do it 1-2 days ahead of time and pull it when finished. It will keep well in an aluminum pan and reheat relatively quickly. Make sure you add a littl water to the pan or better yet a little of your mop so that it the pork doesn't dry out during reheating. As far as time as long as your smoker can handle the amount of food you are putting into it without compromising the circulation of your heat in the smoker you should be ok. If the air can not circulate then you will have a problem.
Good Luck.


Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:43 am
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 13157
Location: Texas
Pulled pork cooks ahead-of-time really well. You may want to fully cook them a day or two in advance and reheat them the day they are needed.

For a good show, you can take your smoker to the event and have it smoking up a storm for advertisement. If you like, you could throw a few shoulders in it or some ribs just to draw in a crowd.

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 11:19 am
JDasmokin rare

Posts: 24
Location: Sothern Indiana
My kids think that pulled pork is as good or better when reheated.
I agree with the other guys in the forum get it done a day in advance, pull it, put it in aluminum pans, stick it in the fridge.
I've found that the large roasters work well for reheating you can set them on 200 degrees, stirring now and then,add a little of your sauce for moisture, and bring the temp of your meat up slow.
The idea Bob-BQN had about showing smoke during the day is a good one.
If the people are going to be eating the food all day long you might save a couple of the shoulders and try to get them done at a time when you think the other meat will run out.
People really like to be around the cooking.
Hope you have a great smookin'
Would like to here how it turns out.
Good luck

Post Thu Jun 17, 2004 9:11 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
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Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

JDasmokin- We have a big restaurant kitchen to work with here as well as some BIG steam trays and a full buffet table. So, either way, I can pull the pork the day it's cooked and then reheat it. I'm thinking a quick reheat in the oven and then leave it hot in the steam trays (they're a much gentler heat). I'll have a lot of extra sauce as well.

BobBQN- I like the idea of having the smoker running on the day of the event as well. The owner was thinking of throwing some precooked brats, smokies or just plain hot dogs on the smoker just for those who might not like pulled pork. so we'll have something for show.

I was also thinking of BCC during the day of the party, but I don't think I'd have room for both that and brats. I have a big old 55 gallon drum as well but it'll be in use that day for a church picnic, and there isn't enough height in the smoker unless I remove a rack.

I also had a friend offer to bring some of his excellent deer sausage as well. Unfortunately, the bar owner is concerned about health regs, so he won't allow wild meat anywhere on the premises.

This is understandable- the cops just shut down a local Oriental restaurant a few months ago because they found 4 coyote carcasses in the freezer. Apparently some of it had already been cut up for serving.

So- I guess we're stuck with commercial brats for the day of the event.

RichD- The water tray will definitely have something in it. Right now we're leaning towards a combination of water and apple cider.

Oh yeah- the owner says any leftovers will make a nice lunch special for the bar as well. Personally, I don't think we'll have many.

Thanks, guys. I'd be glad to hear more from anyone else as well.

Post Sat Jun 19, 2004 11:19 pm
CharredGriller User avatar
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Location: Central Alberta, Canada

Here's an update:

Talking to the owner about BBQ was one thing. His cook is also doing some of the side dishes so I talked to her as well. I got a great reply:

She said, "Well, of course you pull the pork the day it's cooked. Otherwise it'll take too long to reheat and it might not pull properly."

OK- I'm glad the cook agrees. Good- now I can get her to work on the slaw. :twisted:

Post Mon Jun 21, 2004 12:00 am
spfranz well done
well done

Posts: 615
Location: Minnesota

I'll agree with everyone else in that pulled pork will reheat quite nicely. In fact, if you have a vacuum sealer, you could even do it next weekend and it would be just fine. That would give you plenty of time to get everything done.

I like vegetarians. Some of my favorite foods are vegetarians.

Post Mon Jun 21, 2004 12:09 am
YardBurner BBQ Deputy
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Posts: 5469
Location: Damascus, Maryland
If you vac seal it you can re-heat it like boil-in bags. No moisture loss to the air and it will hold in pots of hot water until ready to replenish you serving bowls.

Stays nice and moist and tastes as fresh as when you bagged it.
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Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 1:59 am

Well, here's how it went (pics coming soon):

The pub owner bought a LOT of pork shoulder roasts, all around 3-5 lbs. The thing is, he bought about 24 of them, which was far too many.

I rubbed the roasts late Thursday night and left them till the Saturday morning. In the end I wound up using 14 of them, and they all managed to fit in the smoker. However, these were boneless pork roasts, and they had a mesh sleeve around them, which caused a few problems later on.

Weather became a serious problem Friday night. We had 4-5 severe thunderstorms come through town in a 24 hour period, and the rain was still coming down Saturday morning. (Several parts of town were under 3 feet of water, in fact.) Nevertheless, I got the charcoal lit and we hooked up an old patio umbrella to the patio railing to keep off the rain.

My smoker is similar to a Brinkman, and even though I made a few modifications the temperature never stayed above 250F for more than an hour. This was due to the wind, I'm sure. I also find that these smokers tend to collect a fair bit of ash, and this also cooled the smoker down a lot. The smoke really isn't consistent with these, either- I wound up adding a lot more chips and chunks than I expected.

11 hours later, however, the pork was done. It took over an hour to pull all the pork myself, but it worked. The mesh tended to stick to the surface of any roasts that were charred, so I lost a bit of the skin, but otherwise the pork pulled magically.

The meat was beautifully done, with a 3/4 inch smoke ring through each piece. I even had the kitchen staff peering over my shoulder in amazement! (They got a few "samples" as well, and I don't think they stopped talking about the meat all night after that.)

We got about 40 lbs of pulled pork out of the 14 roasts, so we put the pork in the cooler overnight (really brown bits in a separate pan) and reheated it the next day.

Man, what a response we got! The crowd was absolutely amazed at the taste, as well as the non-greasiness of what is usually a fatty piece of meat. Everyone there had nothing but good things to say about it- although some folks were a bit surprised with the vinegar sauce. Most folks here stuck to the sweet KC style sauce I made as an alternative.

I think next time we'll try BCC, brisket, or a whole pig. One of our customers liked the BBQ so much he's offered us some of his "wiener pigs" (40-55 pounders) for $15 each. It'll be a good excuse for me to save up for a better smoker.

It wound up being a lot of work, but I want to thank everyone who gave me advice on this issue. The weather and a few other factors made things quite difficult, but the end result was a show-stopper. Thanks, folks!

P.S.- the leftovers became the weekly lunch special. Thus, this pub is the first place in Edmonton to ever offer pulled pork as a menu item.

Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 2:02 am
CharredGriller User avatar
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Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

Sorry, guys. That last post was me. I guess my cookie got eaten somehow.

Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 4:55 am
CharredGriller User avatar
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Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

I just had the daily special at the pub. Pulled pork definitely tastes better the next day. I think it's because the smoke has time to work its way through all of the meat.

Or- it could be because I got the last sandwich, which they had to put aside for me. They sold out of the rest of it halfway through Happy Hour.....

(Next time, I gotta get a Char Griller Smokin' Pro and do 250 pounds of it!)

Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 7:32 am
Grand Scale BBQ Deputy
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Posts: 4272
Location: York, PA
Great job.
I'm impressed.

Post Tue Jul 06, 2004 12:16 pm
Bob-BQN User avatar
well done
well done

Posts: 13157
Location: Texas
CanadaBBQGuy excellent job under such adverse conditions! I'll bet you're back by popular demand before you know it! Keeeeep Smokin'!

Post Fri Jul 09, 2004 6:12 am
CharredGriller User avatar
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Posts: 6079
Location: Central Alberta, Canada

Well, there was some talk about doing a pig roast next year. We'll see......

I'm definitely opting for a bigger smoker in the near future, though. One of those Char Grillers or Banderas might do the trick very nicely.

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