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TylerK

Smoked pulled pork

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I did a smoked pulled pork for the first time a couple weeks ago. It turned out great, with a nice bark, and tender juicy meat that easily fell apart when pulled off the BBQ. One thing I was a little disappointed with was the flavour of the meat closer to the bone. The smoke hadn't penetrated all the way, and the meat itself was a little bland compared to the stronger flavours closer to the surface.

Would it be appropriate to brine the meat to get some seasoning throughout? Brining tends to change the texture of the meat and I don't want to end up with something that resembles ham. Does anyone have any tips or trick they can offer?

Thanks,

Tyler

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How 'bout using a Cajun Flavor Injector? I had a smoked butt injected with a mix of Coke and (gasp) grape soda before smoking. Excellent!


"Commit random acts of senseless kindness"

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I do a strong rub 2 days before,and keep in the fridgein a plastic bag, till cooking,then cook as normal...(rub has salt,so its got salt (like a brinewould make it salty.)

Bud


Edited by qrn (log)

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Thanks for the replies. I've never tried injecting before and I'm a little curious. Does this have a significantly different effect on the meat than a brine would? Obviously the Coke or grape soda would be significantly sweeter than most brines, but does it give the same textural changes to the meat that a brine would or is it simply about adding flavour?

qrn - what do you mean by 'strong rub'? It sounds like you're almost doing a dry cure like I would do when making corned beef, but in a lot less time (it takes my corned beef about a week for the cure to reach all the way through). Is two days enough for your dry rub to flavour the whole piece of meat?

Tyler

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How long did you smoke it? How much wood did you use?

Usually, I smoke my butt for 16-18hrs. at 225*F with 4 big chunks of wood until the internal temp is 190*F

With that method, it's tasty through and through.

I also do the dry cure qrn mentions. I believe the dry cure is important. Yes, just like the corned beef, but less time.

Thanks!

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I didn't smoke mine for quite as long as you, and it sounds like our setups are a little different. I don't have a real smoker and I had to make do with a gas grill. Indirect heat for the meat with a pan of wet wood chips over the fire. I got a good constant amount of smoke for about 10 hours. Temperature around the 12 lb butt was kept at 250F and internal meat temperature was brought up to 190F.

My rub was applied the night before and contained garlic, rosemary, maple sugar, pepper and salt. The BBQ sauce I served it with was cider vinegar, bourbon, maple syrup, tomato paste (just a little), and some spices. The sauce tasted great, but I thought it overpowered the taste of the meat - hence my desire to get more flavour out of the meat itself.

Tyler


Edited by TylerK (log)

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First things first: what cut of pork did you use and how large was it? Brining a picnic or shoulder kicks things into the "hammy" flavor & texture to me. Generally, when serving pulled pork, the idea is to mix up the bark and the more succulent interior meat, offering both tastes & textures at the same time.

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The flavor of the meat from the inside to the outside is going to be different. That's just the nature of the smoking pork. Actually, in many BBQ joints it's possible to specify "inside" or "outside" when you order.

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I have injected butts a couple of times, but found that most of what I put in seeped out before the meat got to the fire. Made for a quick marinade, but not much flavor was left inside.

I had better luck with picnics, and even better for hams. They have larger muscle bundles, and the liquid seems to seep into the muscle fiber and stay there better.

I prefer to do picnics over butts. There is a little less yield, but both the texture and flavor seem better to me.

I find that if I add lots of sweet paprika to the rub, up to 1/4 the volume, it soaks up a lot of the smoke flavor, without adding much heat. And so, when the meat is mixed with the bark, there is a good flavor all thru.

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Hi Tyler, smoke is not absorbed by meat, it's adsorbed(sticks to the surface). Muscle is non-porous so, for the most part, the most flavour is mixed in when the shoulder is pulled and combined. Even a rub will not penetrate very far into a shoulder, but a brine will, if you give it enough time. With a dry rub it's the salt content that draws water out where it combines with spices and through osmosis, carries the spice molecules back into the meat. That's why salting a steak with course salt half an hour before you grill it will give it great flavour. The salt interacts with the proteins by 'unwinding' or 'unlocking' them, making the steak more tender. But if you leave a dry rub on for too long before you smoke it then you will begin to cure the meat to a certain extent, altering the texture and flavour of the finished product.

If you inject a shoulder and leave it sit then you will get the same 'hammy' texture as brining gives, but if you inject and smoke right away you can increase the flavour closer to the bone. It will take too long for osmosis to carry any molecule from the surface of the shoulder to the area near the bone, if it even happens at all. I've injected pork shoulders and legs of lamb (both, with bone in and boneless) just prior to smoking and had great results, but I usually reserve brining for chickens and turkeys because of that hammy taste you get from an extended brine. Lamb, being of a similar texture to beef and pork will also suffer from an extended brining process, effectually curing the meat. You are correct to draw a correlation between this and when you make corned beef from a brisket.

By the way, are you the same Tyler who was looking to buy my wsm a couple of years ago? You seem familiar to me.


There are 3 kinds of people in this world, those who are good at math and those who aren't.

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There is a difference between curing and brining. Injecting ingredients which will flavor the meat is not going to give it a hammy taste. A cure will do that but it takes time-days. If your injections don't have any curing agent and you do it just before you smoke, there won't be and concern that it will come out tasting 'hammy'


Edited by Norm Matthews (log)

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As usual, it would seem like I completely overlooked the simplest solution. I did not pull the entire pork butt after cooking. I just removed what was required at the time so that the inside did not get mixed in with the rest. It may have also been the case that a lot of the bark didn't actually make it to the table...

I may get shot down beaten for even suggesting this, but has anyone tried the injection technique using (diluted) liquid smoke in order to get some smoke flavour to the whole shoulder? Not the fake stuff, but the stuff with real hickory smoke particles suspended in water. I have tried making it part of the cure for my corned beef when I haven't had access to a smoker or a bbq and it seemed to turn out pretty good.

By the way, are you the same Tyler who was looking to buy my wsm a couple of years ago? You seem familiar to me.

Pretty sure that wasn't me. I live in a condo downtown Toronto, so I don't have space for something like that. I don't even have access to the building's gas grills long enough to smoke something, and had to travel out to my parents' place in order to smoke this butt.

Tyler

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Most of the time when I smoke a pork butt I prefer the mix of the different tastes and textures of the outside and inside meat. That said, on those occasions when I, or my guests, are looking for deeper smoke penetration I simply bone the butt (or buy a boneless one), open it up, and spread it out a bit. Kind of like butterflying it. Your end result will be a fully smoked butt with a lot more bark. It may end up a little drier than normal but you can correct that by adding something like a apple juice based finishing sauce after you've pulled the meat.

Note - Watch your clock and thermometer. The smoking time will drop substantially using this method.

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Thanks for the replies. I've never tried injecting before and I'm a little curious. Does this have a significantly different effect on the meat than a brine would? Obviously the Coke or grape soda would be significantly sweeter than most brines, but does it give the same textural changes to the meat that a brine would or is it simply about adding flavour?

qrn - what do you mean by 'strong rub'? It sounds like you're almost doing a dry cure like I would do when making corned beef, but in a lot less time (it takes my corned beef about a week for the cure to reach all the way through). Is two days enough for your dry rub to flavour the whole piece of meat?

Tyler

I put "johnnys seasoning salt" and spice islands "beau monde",and some pickling

salt on it,and it seems to work really well,seems to go into the meat a long way in 2 days..and,I am sure the real long cook/smoke helps it to get way thru...

it,,,Bud

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