BBQ Pulled Pork – The Best Mistake I Ever Made

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Something wonderfully bad happened a few weeks ago concerning some bbq pulled pork I was smoking and I just have to share it!

It all started when the guys from the church pumpkin patch asked me to bring some bbq pulled pork. I said sure (I never pass up an opportunity to smoke meat!). They were each going to bring another item such as cole slaw, baked beans or dessert.

It was to be 4 of us manning the pumpkin patch that Friday and so I decided to smoke the seven pound bone-in pork butt on Thursday evening, let it cook all night and then pull it Friday morning early.

Well all went well at first.. I had my daughters mix up a batch of my top secret rib rub. They coated the hunk or meat with French's yellow mustard as usual and coated the pork butt real good with the rub. They then placed it in the fridge until I was ready.

I fired up the big boy full of Oak, apricot, and Bartlett Pear wood and around 6:15 in the evening I placed the pork butt in the smoker and began my long relaxing evening while maintaining a temperature of 230 degrees in the smoker.

I did some work around the yard and later on came in to do some work on the computer for a while. I started getting real sleepy around 11:30 PM and decided to do something I have never done before. I brought the pork butt in the house double wrapped it in aluminum foil and put it in the oven at 230 degrees. (you purists can shoot me later if you like or send me some hate mail).

I set the alarm on my clock for 4:30 AM.. my estimate of when it would reach around 190 degrees or what I feel is a good pulling temperature.

Don't ask me what happened but I awoke at.. gulp.. 6:30 AM! 2 hours past when I was supposed to. Now.. I know that pork shoulders are tremendously forgiving and all but this one had to be perfect. I am supposed to be something of a pro and I had probably taken "forgiving" to the outer limits.

I fly downstairs with my feet hardly touching the stairs and fling open the oven door to find my pork butt at 208 degrees.. I felt sick at my stomach all of a sudden. I turned the oven off and decided to let the pork shoulder cool down for 30 minutes or so before opening it up and seeing the overcooked, dry heap of what was supposed to pulled pork.

I still work a day job so I had to go on into work and make sure everything was running ok.. I would then return home as soon as possible and pull the meat and see if it was even edible. I get to work and one problem after another confronts me.. things just are not going well at all. I do not make it back home until after 10:00 AM.

I got home a little after 10 AM and the pork had cooled to 163 degrees. I opened the foil and the pork just kink of fell apart on its own.. It smelled really good and was surrounded by a pool of melted pork fat. I tore off a piece of it and tasted it.. I could not believe it! It was the best tasting pork I have ever tasted! I tore off piece after piece from different areas of the meat and all of it was so juicy and moist and bursting with flavor!

I was so excited.. I scooped the pieces into a foil pan and then spooned most of the juices from the foil onto the meat so it would help it be juicy when I reaheated it later that day for the guys at the pumpkin patch.

Later that day..

I got back home from work around 4:15 PM and placed the foil pan of pulled pork into the oven at 275 degrees and began making a batch of my delicious barbecue sauce. My daughters already had the ingredients laid out for me so it took about 15 minutes and after a few taste tests I poured the sauce into a pint jar and capped it off.

At 5:30 PM I showed up for my scheduled shift at the church pumpkin patch with the bbq pulled pork in tow. I have never in my entire life heard so much oohing and ahhing as I heard that day. All of the guys said it was the best they had ever eaten and of course I tried to look humble but it was hard 'cause inside I was mighty proud!

A mistake I hope I repeat many times over and again!

To do this yourself here are the basic steps:

  • Order my rub and sauce recipes if you haven't already (you will not get the same professional taste without it)
  • Do the mustard and rub on the pork butt
  • smoke it to 140 degrees heavy with oak, apricot and pear (or other fruit wood)
  • double wrap in foil
  • Place in 230 degree oven (or leave in the smoker) until it reaches approx. 208 degrees
  • Let it sit and marinate in its' own juices without unwrapping for another 2 hours
  • Open foil and watch it fall apart before your eyes.
  • Invite the neighbours and serve the bbq pulled pork with my special sauce recipe (expect to be made into a neighbourhood celebrity!)
  • Send me an email and thank me for changing your life! (ok.. maybe I am taking that one a bit far)

 

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Comments

  1. Manny says

    Should I refridgerate the pork once its pulled if I don’t plan to serve it for a couple of hours? How long is it safe to set out? How long does reheating via a 225 degree or so oven generally take per lb of pulled pork? Thanks for the help!

  2. Will h says

    Jeff, when the meat reaches 208 degrees, do I need to place it in a cooler or wrap in a towel? Or do I just leave it in the foil on the counter for a couple hours?

    • says

      Once it reaches 205-208 °F, you can just let it cool down a little by sitting it on the counter for 30 minutes or so uncovered or just barely tented with foil. If you need to wait before you pull it, or if you are traveling,etc., you can wrap in foil, then in a towel and place it in a cooler for up to 4 hours. Be sure to fill in any remaining space with more towels, pillows, etc. to help insulate it.

  3. Charlie says

    This was an amazing cook. Started last night at 8:00 and went to bed.got up at midnight and added more coals and smoke wood. Meat was at 140 so wrapped it in foil and went back to sleep. My remote meat thermometer woke me up at 4:00 to let me know that the 15# of pork shoulder was at 208. Went to work and then started pull it apart at 10:00. It was perfectly rendered. This was my best and easiest barbecue ever!

  4. Bob Blecl says

    I used this “mistake” to feed 60 people at a grad party. I was told by many people, including fellow smokers, it was the best they ever had! Thank you for posting this!

  5. Ray says

    I want to make this a day before I need it since it takes 14 or so hours and my question is what is the best way to re-heat it the day I need it??

  6. Daune says

    HI Jeff,

    I have a real dumb question. I smoked a 5 lb Pork butt yesterday, my very first try at smoking meat. I was using a gas BBQ, 3 burner. Using the burner on one side and placing the meat on the other side I put the pan of water in the center. I then put my wood chips on some foil over the burner. The question is "are they (the wood chips) suppose to catch fire and burn up or are they suppose to just smoke and not burn"?

    By the way, the pork turned out very good!

    • says

      There are no dumb questions around here ;-)

      Ideally you want to limit the oxygen to the chips so they smolder and smoke instead of catching on fire. On the grill, wrap your chips in foil so that they are air tight then use a fork to poke just a few holes in the top for the smoke to get out. Place it over one of the lit burners.

      This creates a way for the chips to smoke without catching fire so easily.

      You can also use a tuna can or something similar with wood chips inside and foil wrapped tightly over the can. Put only a couple or three small holes in the top to let the smoke out and set it over one of the lit burners.

      At any rate, glad the pork turned out well for you. That is called a success!

  7. Hankki says

    Hi Jeff,

    I made the same mistake with a not so forgiving meat, super lean moose. I made the meat to bring to my wifes parents, father in law is the hunter. I forgot the meat and it was around 212-213 when I realized the temp alarm was switched off. Fortunately the meat was in a glass container with lid so all juices were saved. I let it cool down and poured the juices over the meat turning the meat and so on.

    the meat was so tender that it fell apart and my father in law thought it was pork meat and not moose. I haven't had the nerves to try it again though. 

    This was made in the oven and not on a grill.

     

  8. Hal says

    Make sure to use a thermometer, but I think I’ve read elsewhere on this site that it’s 90 minutes per pound. I’m about to start a 14 pounder, which we’ll eat in a few days….

  9. steve hix says

    Im cooking for fifty people pulled pork sandwiches should 25lbs be enough i have 2 9lbs and 1 7lbs how long to get to 160 degrees with smoker at 230 degrees

  10. Hugo says

    Jeff,

    a question you may be able to clear up – not directly related to your recipe though…

    I am today atempting my 3rd ever pulled pork on a weber kettle.  The first 2 were ok, but dry and more roasted, rather than succulent and falling off the bone.  I am fairly sure my temperatures were about right (bbq at 225-250) they were on for a looong time – 10 hrs plus, but the meat just wouldn't get to the magic temperature.  

    So my question is if I wrap the meat in foil (over the pan) after say a couple of hours would that keep the moisture in better and would it help the meat get to temperature, or would in insulate the meat from the heat a bit?

    Tips from the wizzard please…

    Thanks

    • says

      Hugo, for a pulled pork be sure you are using the pork butt (also called a Boston butt).

      I would expect a 8 lb pork butt to take about 14-18 hours at 225-250 degrees so you just have to wait them out. They do get stuck at about 160-165 and will sometimes sit at that temperature for hours on end before continuing to rise.

      Foil is not a bad idea but I would not place foil over it until the internal temperature of the meat reaches about 160 degrees or so. At that point, cover with foil and let it continue to about 205 degrees for absolutely moist, succulent and tender pulled pork that will literally fall apart on it’s own.

      Once it is done cooking, let it rest with foil just slightly tented over it for 30 minutes or longer before pulling it. This also allows it to cool some so you’re not burning your fingers off.

      • Hugo says

        Hi Jeff,

        thanks for that.  It has now been on for 8 1/2 hrs (I'm in the UK) and is between 150-160 inside, but it is only a small boneless shoulder – about 2 lb.  It is going better so far than previous efforts, but the meat still feels quite firm.  I'll try putting the foil over when it gets a bit hotter. 

        Thanks

        Hugo

  11. Steve says

    So just to be clear because I have to cook a 17 pounder this weekend … Double wrap means putting it unwrapped or wrapped in an aluminum pan and then covering the pan with foil? 

    Thanks

    • says

      I usually double wrap in heavy duty foil or I place then in a pan, covered with foil then wrapped in a towel.

      In theory, the double wrapping tends to hold in more heat due to air that is trapped between the layers of foil acting as an insulator.

      With pulled pork, just putting it in a pan covered in heavy duty foil seems to do a great job.

  12. Chad says

    Jeff,

      One question, when you double wrap your pork butt, are you wrapping the pork directly with foil or are you putting it in a pan and just covering the top down to the pan?

    Thanks,

    Chad

    • says

      Chad, I prefer to use a pan covered with foil since that works much better and does a much better job of preventing leaks. The only time I use foil alone is if I do not have a pan available to use.

  13. mike says

    Jeff-

    I used your "Best Mistake I Ever Made" recipe for a lunch for my cub scout pack's pinewood derby. I made enough to feed about 50 people, which took a couple of days. That mistake made me the star of the day! Everyone was raving about the pork! I have a friend that cannot eat any fatty foods tell me that it smelt so good he was tempted to give in. This is now my go to recipe for pulled pork, nothing else will do. My 3rd son is turning 8 tomorrow, and want's… yep pulled pork. Before, I would have been like "Hello, is this Famous Dave?", but now I'm like "No Problem!!"

    Thank you Jeff for making a huge mistake that makes me look like a world class smoker!

    -Mike (Arizona)

  14. Ben Foust says

    Hey there love this site. Had one question though, does this site have a true app for smartphones? Or is it just got to the www. And then just log in? Thanks agin for the great site.

    • says

      You do have to go to the browser the first time and once it comes up, you save the link to your home screen. From then on, it opens in app mode with a splash screen and all.

      They call it an “app-like experience”. It’s not an app like happy birds but it is a much better experience than what we used to have and it optimizes the site in the best way possible to allow you to read and digest the information on your phone.

      I’ve had some really good feedback but I am always happy to hear from folks about it.

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