Pork shoulder is one of the dishes that’s sure to win the hearts of even the most discerning grillers, as long as it’s cooked right.
However, if you ask serial pitmasters for the recipe to pulled pork, you’ll notice that no two versions are ever the same!
But regardless of the recipe you choose, pulled pork benefits from a long cooking time over a medium temperature, and most importantly should remain moist, soft, tender, and flavorsome — a task that’s truly hard to achieve for even the most expert grillers.
If you are looking for specific methods to maintain the moistness of your pulled pork then you will learn 2 main methods in this article.
One is the method of using crock pot and chicken stock and the other method is known as the foil towel cooler method.
Keep reading this article till the end if you want to know these methods in detail.
- 2 Primary Methods to Moisten Pulled Pork
- Do You Need to Wrap a Pork Shoulder in Foil?
- Does Pulled Pork Need to be Covered in Liquid to Keep it Moist?
- How to Keep Pulled Pork Moist While Smoking?
- How to Keep Pulled Pork Moist for the Next Day?
- How to Keep Pulled Pork Moist While Reheating?
- How to Keep Pulled Pork Warm without Drying Out?
- How to Keep Pulled Pork Moist After Cooking?
2 Primary Methods to Moisten Pulled Pork
Just like the myriad recipes available for pulled pork, there are a plethora of methods to moisten pulled pork, most notably:
1. Use a Crock Pot and Chicken Stock
A crock pot, sometimes dubbed as a slow cooker is a great way to prevent your pulled pork from drying out.
Before getting started, it’s important to ensure that your crock pot has a tight-fitting lid, with the heat set on warm or its lowest setting.
You can keep the pulled pork moist by sprinkling a bit a chicken stock over it.
Adding chicken stock will not only reduce the amount of steam, but will give the meat an extra dose of flavor.
If you can’t get your hands on some chicken stock, you can use apple juice or white wine.
2. Foil Towel Cooler Method
Before you wrap the meat with foil, it’s recommended that you baste the pork meat with the drippings leftover from the original smoke.
After you’ve wrapped the pork meat in the foil, wrap the butt in a towel.
Then place it in a cooler or an insulated Cambro box for at least an hour. I recommend to extend the time for at least 2-3 hours (the longer the merrier).
Doing this will help break down the collagens, and retain the moisture; so that it stays with the meat.
Do You Need to Wrap a Pork Shoulder in Foil?
Have you heard about the term “Texas Crunch”?
This term is coined by pitmasters in popular barbeque circles that means wrapping the meat in foil.
The concept of wrapping meat isn’t new.
But it has been around for a while; except that it started out as a tropical technique which entailed wrapping the meat in banana leaves.
Wrapping the pork meat in foil is a great way to add the finishing touches to the cooking time, and prevent it from drying out.
But that’s not all – wrapping the meat in foil makes the meat more tender and juicier, and also speeds up its cooking process.
Does Pulled Pork Need to be Covered in Liquid to Keep it Moist?
Yes, pulled pork should be cooked and not covered in liquid to keep it moist, and to achieve great flavor.
The term “liquid” could be anything from ketchup, barbeque sauce to a mix of beer and orange juice for a Mexican flair.
Regardless of which liquid you use, it should never cover the pork in the cooker, but should be only up to a quarter way up the sides.
Remember, pork meat will generate more liquids as it cooks, so you need to leave room for that too.
How to Keep Pulled Pork Moist While Smoking?
Low and slow is the key to succulent fall-apart pulled pork.
One of the big reasons why pulled pork is often juicy is because of its fat content, but in many cases, that’s just not enough to keep the meat moist while smoking.
There are several things you can use to keep pork moist such as a beer, an apple cider vinegar or an apple juice.
You can even use water to moisten the pulled pork in some cases.
If you’re cooking pork meat in a smoker, then you can add a pan of water to provide moist heat.
The pan of water in your smoker will generate steam, which will keep the pork meat soaking as it cooks.
Smoking meat, that is cooking pork and a variety of other meat in a smoker offers several benefits over a slow cooker.
There are several benefits of smoking pork such as it helps in enhancing its unique and distinct flavor.
It also helps in improving its smell and appearance due to the hardwoods used. (Source: Ehow.com)
How to Keep Pulled Pork Moist for the Next Day?
If you’d like to savor your pulled pork the next day, you will have to store it well in a single piece.
Because the longer it’s in one piece, the longer it will stay moist.
With regards to its storage, there are several methods to choose from such as:
1. Wozniak Method
After your pork meat has reached 175 degrees internally, wrap it in aluminum foil, and be sure to seal off its edges.
Pro tip – when cooking, grilling or smoking pork or any other type of meat; you should always have a meat thermometer handy to keep tabs on its temperature.
Most of the best meat smokers such as the Char-Broil 19202101 Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker do come with an integrated food thermometer.
But if you’re using a slow cooker that doesn’t have an onsite thermometer or temperature gauge, buying a meat thermometer is a good investment to help you cook the meat well.
2. Thawing Method
You can freeze cooked pork shoulder for roughly two to three months according to the USDA.
After freezing the meat, thaw it in your fridge for about 24 hours to keep it moist for the next day.
How to Keep Pulled Pork Moist While Reheating?
When reheating pulled pork, the most common issue is the dryness of the meat.
But the good news is that there’s a simple solution to prevent the meat from drying up when reheating.
One of the easiest preferred and proven ways to keep pulled pork moist when reheating is to simply add a liquid during its reheating process.
Most pitmasters add apple juice over the pulled pork during the reheating process, because the enzymes in the juice serve as a natural tenderizer.
Another popular option to maintain the moistness of your pulled pork when reheating is to use the drippings leftover from the initial cooking process.
Other commonly used liquids to keep the meat moist as you reheat it are butter, liquid smoke, and even beer or wine. (Source: Firstforwomen.com)
How to Keep Pulled Pork Warm without Drying Out?
To preserve the tantalizing texture of the pulled pork, heat it slowly over a low temperature on a stovetop, in a grill or oven.
If you’re going to keep pork warm in the oven, it’s best to add a few ounces of chicken stock to it, and then wrap it in tip foil before warming it up.
How to Keep Pulled Pork Moist After Cooking?
To keep pulled pork moist after cooking, you can place the pulled meat into an overproof dish, and add a bit of liquid to replace some of the moisture that’s lost after the cooking process.
As mentioned earlier, liquid for pulled pork can be an apple juice, broth or a thick barbeque sauce. Cover the ovenproof dish with a double layer of foil to lock in the moisture, and set it on a baking tray in the middle of the oven.
Pulled pork is one of those dishes you can’t make in a rush!
One of the secrets to achieving those tender, pulled apart chunks is the meat itself.
But once you’ve got the right cut of the meat for pulled pork, which typically is a pork shoulder, you need to ensure that it remains moist all through its cooking process.
Pork does generate natural moisture when it cooks.
But this slowly evaporates as the meat cooks, which can result in a dreaded stall or overcooked pork.
There are several ways to keep pulled pork moist, including using one of many different liquids such as an apple juice, and wrapping the meat in an aluminum foil as already explained above.
I hope you have understood by now how to maintain the moistness of the pulled pork throughout its whole cooking cycle.
I wish you good luck for your next pork BBQ party.