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You can Keep your pulled pork in a cooler for up to 8 hours long. Anything longer and you will have to consider placing it in the refrigerator.
Letting Pork Shoulder Rest
In general, you will want to let your pork shoulder rest no shorter than a 2 or 3 hour timeframe. This is to ensure all residual moisture has come down in internal temperature, leading to a more juicy and tender pork shoulder.
Why Put Pulled Pork In Cooler
Putting pulled pork into a cooler lets the meat come down in internal temperature, and let’s all the moisture, collagen, and fat fully render down. With regards to placing it specifically into a cooler, you will do this if you want to rest your pork for extended periods of time – roughly 3 to 8 hours.
Temperature To Pull The Pork Shoulder Off The Smoker
Pull your pork shoulder off the grates at around 200 degrees internal AND when the entirety of the meat is effectively probe tender. You will want to ensure that all the tough connective tissue has had an adequate amount of time to fully render down.
Once this has occurred, go ahead and place it into the ice cooler, well wrapped with towels.
Is It Okay To Leave A Pork Shoulder In A Cooler For A Long Time?
Absolutely, you will actually want to do that after every cook. The reasoning is due to the fact that you want to let it completely rest, and have a dedicated method of allowing for this. Not only that, but the temperature slowly decreases, meaning the insulation of your resting device will keep it warm for a very long period of time.
Smoking Pork Shoulder Then Letting Rest Ahead Of Time
When planning out an event, consider how long it takes to smoke a pork shoulder, followed by how long it can feasibly rest. On average, the smoking process takes roughly 12 hours, and resting a pork shoulder can last anywhere from 6 to 8 hours. For longer resting periods, consider wrapping the meat in a towel, piece of foil, or butcher paper. This means as long as you can start smoking your pork shoulder around 20 hours before your event starts, you should be good to go.
In Case You Need To Reheat Your Pork Shoulder After Resting
If you find your meat decreasing in internal temperature throughout your resting period, rest assured you can reheat it by placing in a warming oven. Take it out of the cooler and place directly into a warming oven that has the ambient temperature set to no lower than 140 degrees.
This will ensure that the temperature of the meat can start to come back up to an appropriate serving temperature – and keep your guests (or yourself) happy!