Yesterday, I created a post asking for advice on the topic of pulled pork in the oven (thanks for the advice!). Now that it is complete, I thought I would share my "Lesson Learned" and also to pose a few questions. This is probably going to be long and boring, but I thought I might give it a try for all of you Alton Brown and Cooking Illustrated fans.
Here are the steps I took in preparation:
1. Made a paprika/brown sugar based rub and applied to the meat (6.2 lb boston butt from Sam's Club) the night before cooking and wrapped in saran wrap.
2. Placed meat on roasting rack and cooked at 250 for a total of about 10.5-11 hours.
3.For the first 3 hours I did not touch the meat or open the oven (in fact I left my house for that time so as to not fidget with it or worry about it). I did this to create the beginnings of a nice crust.
4. After 3 hours I applied a mop sauce containing apple cider vinegar, brown sugar, red pepper flakes and salt. I did this every hour for the next 3 or so hours.
5. When the Interior Temp reached about 155deg (after about 6 hours) I tightly wrapped the Butt in foil and added a little bit of apple juice. I am not sure why I did this but I had remembered a technique used on pork ribs called the Texas Crunch, which I thought should produce similar results since I am aiming to break down the fat and collegan in the meat. I think I left it in the foil for about 1.5-2 hours (now up to about 8 hours total) and the meat reached a temp of about 180deg.
6. I removed the meat from the foil hoping to crisp the outside again to finish the crust/bark. Something interesting happened - the temp started to decrease from 180 deg down to around 175 after about 30min . This confused me! I thought that maybe since the macro structure of the meat was being changed so much that maybe an air gap had been created at the location of the sensor. I changed location of the sensor and it still read the same temp. So, after about 30 min of seeing the temp drop I decided to re-wrap in foil (without juice).
7. In the foil, the temp started to increase steadily and finally got up to around 185 at which point I opened the foil to again crisp the crust.
8. Finally, 190 deg and done. I removed the meat a section at a time in order to break into small chunks. Each section seemed to have the correct texture and moisture level until I arrived to the last section on the bottom. This section seemed to be tougher and not as easy to pull than the others. This also confused me. Either it had cooked way to long or it had not cooked long enough for the connective tissue to break down. Or, it did not have the same level of fat and connective tissue as the rest of the meat.
9. Added sauce to the pulled pork for service today.
1. Why did the temp of the pork drop from 180 down to 175 after removal from the foil the first time? Was steam creating a more efficient cooking environment? Should I just have left it int he foil until about 185 and then remove from the foil for the last few degrees in order to crisp the crust?
2. Why did the one section of meat seem to have a different texture that the other sections?
3. Recommendations (besides doing it on a smoker or grill)??
Enjoy and have a good day