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Pork shoulders take anywhere from 10 – 10 hours to cook through completely. This is largely dependent on how much it weighs, the marbling, how hot you are cooking at, and whether or not you wrap the meat.
These variables can directly impact the length of time you can plan to cook a pork shoulder.
If you don’t explicitly consider each of those points, then you may be wondering why your pork shoulder may be cooking faster than expected.
Let’s get to the bottom of this!
How to know if your pork shoulder is cooking too fast
You can determine if your pork shoulder is cooking too fast by considering the weight of the pork shoulder and correlating it with the length of time already passed. You should generally expect to cook 1 pound of pork shoulder per 1 hour. This means if you are cooking through the meat at a rate higher than that, it is time to consider other variables such as heat, wrapping, and thermometer accuracy.
Pork shoulders should be taking 1 hour per 1 pound to cook through. To properly assess the estimated cook time, check the weight of your pork shoulder. See exactly how heavy it is, what the pounds are, and also take a look at the marbling. If there is a lot of marbling, that can lead to a quicker cook.
With marbling, you don’t need to cook through all the tough connective tissue for as long of a time. Therefore, whenever you happen to get a really fatty looking pork shoulder, that could be an indication that it will cook faster than expected.
Also consider how hot you are cooking the pork shoulder. If you happen to be cooking through it faster than expected, that may be because of the heat at which you are smoking it at.
The one pound per one hour estimate comes from smoking meat at around 225. Often times, many people myself included will cook their pork shoulders way hotter than that.
As you start to go up in cooking temperature, you’ll find that the hour per pound starts to decrease substantially. For example, a 10lb pork shoulder smoked at 225 degrees should take roughly 10 hours, but smoking the same 10lb pork shoulder at 250 or 300 will significantly shorten the cooking time. This is the most common reason why people may be thinking they are cooking their pork shoulders too fast.
Furthermore, it is important to check the thermometer accuracy. If the thermometer is not correct, you may be smoking at higher temperatures than you would otherwise know, thus cooking the pork shoulder fast.
Another way to know if the pork shoulder is cooking faster than intended is to see if you’re wrapping it with either foil or butcher paper. If you are, this can speed up cooking time substantially as well.
What do I do if my pork shoulder is done early?
If your pork shoulder is done early, take it off the cooking device and place it in a preferred storage container. This is usually either an ice cooler or a warming oven. This will help preserve the meat over a longer period of time, while letting the internal temperature coming down to a reasonable serving range.
It’s important to be flexible when smoking meat, and as such you should always consider that every piece of barbecue you cook will have different cook through times. Being able to deal with these fluctuations is was makes a great PitMaster.
When a pork shoulder is cooking through earlier than expected, be sure to place it inside either and ice cooler or warming oven. These are the two recommended ways of storing any type of barbecue, and are great ways to let it rest properly. Resting is absolutely essential!
Both ice coolers and warming ovens are useful ways to prolong the amount of time the pork shoulder can be rested for. This applies especially to cuts that are done quicker than usually thought of, letting there be some extra carry over time until it is time to serve.
Both containers have the ability to store and hold pork shoulders for upwards of 12 hours, if the necessary steps are taken. This can surely eliminate all concerns about what to do it your pork shoulder is done too quickly.
What happens if you cook pulled pork too fast
There is no difference between a fast cooked pork shoulder and a slowly cooked one. If you happen to cook your pulled pork too fast, it becomes essential to pull it off the smoker and place it in a storage container capable of holding it for several hours. A pork shoulder that cooks too fast usually isn’t overcooked, but just needs the right attention.
Once you identify the pork shoulder as cooking too fast, check the internal temperature to see where it’s at. If the reading comes back as 200 degrees, start probing to make sure it is probe tender. This ensures that all the connective tissue has rendered down.
All that matters is whether the tissue and collagen inside your pork shoulder is tender. It frankly doesn’t matter too much if it got to that point in a quicker amount of time or not.
Why did my pork shoulder turn out tough?
Pork shoulders that end up tough are either undercooked or over cooked. There is a fine line when a pork shoulder is perfectly tender, and when it isn’t, it is because the meat wasn’t cooked all the way or was left on the smoker for too long.
Undercooked pork shoulders are usually the result of an impatient PitMaster. They haven’t had nearly enough time to cook through all the connective tissue that they should have had, leading them to be very tough.
Overcooked pork shoulders can equally be tough to eat. These are pieces of meat that have had most of the connective collagen not only render down, but evaporate. This leads a dry, stringy, and tough piece of barbecue to consume.
Keeping your pork shoulder warm
Keep your pork shoulder warm by placing it in an ice cooler, or warming oven. This lets the internal temperature come down to a reasonable amount, and lets the connective tissue moisture settle down.
It’s important that you keep it warm over the course of the resting period to ensure you don’t have to reheat it upon serving. Not that there’s anything wrong with doing that, but if you can manage to just let it rest in a proper area while still keeping it warm – it takes a lot less time to begin serving when you need to.
Stopping your pork shoulder from cooking too fast
Stop your pork shoulder from cooking too fast by setting your temperature on the smoker at a lower degree. This is usually recommended to be around 225 – 250 depending on how long you want the cook to last. You also will want to not wrap the pork shoulder, since wrapping tends to let it cook through faster.