Rest your pork shoulder overnight by pulling it off the smoker once the internal temperature hits at least 200 degrees, then wrap it in either foil of butcher paper, and place it in a storage container such as a ice chest or warming oven.
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This will ensure the internal temperature is held stable.
Pork Shoulder Resting Period
The resting period for pork shoulder is anywhere between 3-12 hours.
This depends how large the cut is in weight and the storage method of resting.
If a pork shoulder is pushing around 20 lbs, expect to have it rest closer to the 8-12 hour mark.
A pork shoulder weigh in around 10 lbs, should only really rest about 3-8 hours.
Regarding the storage method that you could use for resting your pork shoulder after smoking or cooking it refers to placing it in either an ice chest or warming oven.
Not only that, but you should be considering wrapping your pork shoulder to further retain the ambient and internal temperature within the meat.
You would want to do this if you really want to let the meat rest for an extended period of time.
For example, if you were wanting to perhaps serve it the next day – this can be a great option to still let the meat come down over a longer period of time.
Basically just a technique commonly used by experienced pit-masters.
In terms of the average cook, you will still want to take the right precautions and ALWAYS rest it in either one of those to preferred storage methods.
Can You Put Warm Pulled Pork in the Fridge?
You can certainly put warm pulled pork in the fridge.
Although, it is not recommended to put fresh off the smoker and very hot pulled pork in the fridge.
You don’t want everything else inside to warm up and spoil.
When you pull your pulled pork shoulder off of the smoker, you don’t want to get ahead of yourself and take the wrong steps in handling the post smoke process.
Pulling your pulled pork off the smoker means you are ready to begin resting it.
This can certainly be done in an ice chest/warming oven like mentioned above, and you can even rest it long term in the fridge.
The only caveat to this is, you will want to let the pork shoulder rest at least 3 hours before even thinking about putting it in the fridge.
Again, you don’t want the ambient temperature inside the fridge to start rising and spoil all of the perishables inside.
The overall goal of resting an amazingly smoked pork shoulder is to let the internal temperatures come down to a reasonable level.
This is around 150-170.
Some pork shoulders get to that quicker than others, and is mainly dependent on how you store them after you smoke in addition to how large the cut of meat is.
Can I Overcook Pork Shoulder?
You can certainly overcook a pork shoulder.
This usually occurs when you let the internal temperature rise above 205 degrees internal.
You can also dry out a pulled pork shoulder by pulling it before the internal temperature has had ample time to stead out at around 150-170 degrees.
Generally, there are two ways to discern whether or not if your pork shoulder is overcooked or undercooked:
- Over Cooked:
- Pork shoulder pulls apart easily, but the strands are tough and stringy.
- Under Cooked:
- Pork shoulder will be a really tough piece of meat that you can’t seem to pull apart.
How Do You Not Overcook a Pork Shoulder?
Not overcooking a pork shoulder is easy. Simply monitor the internal temperatures before pulling off the smoker – when it hits 200-203 internal AND probes like butter – then let it rest for an ample amount of time – 3-12 hours in most cases – and only pull the meat apart when the internal temperature reaches between 150-170 degrees.
What seems to make people confused and unsure about their meats being smoked it usually due to the fact that they are either impatient, or aren’t measure their temperatures appropriately.
When Pit-Masters go through the trouble of smoking their pork shoulder, I have seen many mess up at the last minute and simply pull the meat way too quick.
They usually think that since it has already been over 12 hours since the start of the cook, are getting tired, are getting hungry, etc. that means they can just pull the thing off the smoker grates.
The last couple of miles in the cooking process are absolutely critical to ensuring an amazingly smoked pork shoulder.
By being too impatient – you are sacrificing your entire smoke and basically wasting your time and hard work. You DON’T want that!
Not measuring the internal temperature correctly:
This is a huge topic, but essentially you just want to be using the right kind of temperature reading equipment.
Get a quality thermometer, stick it inside the thickest part of your pork shoulder, then let it start reading the temps.
Once you’re able to get a good read on the internal temperature for your pork shoulder – be sure to pull it at roughly 200-203 degrees internal.
Do NOT pull the meat before this stage.
Some people will say that the meat can possibly be done in the low 190’s, however I have yet to see that myself.
When the temperature hits the famed 200-203 range, that is precisely when the collagen within the meat will begin to dissolve and make the inside incredibly tender.
That’s why when you not only have the internal temperature reading at 200 degrees, many experienced pit-masters will also advise (myself included) to begin probing the meat with the thermometer to see if it’s like butter.
This article was written by Robert McCall, the founder of bbqdropout.com. Robert also owns and operates the BBQ dropout YouTube channel where he demonstrates his first-hand experience cooking all kinds of meats and strives to provide helpful, authoritative content for people looking how to barbecue.
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