If you’ve spent all day making sure your pork butt has been smoked to juicy perfection, the last thing you want is for the meat to dry out before you’ve had a chance to serve it. It’s a hurdle that many of us have faced, particularly during large gatherings. Fear not—we’re here to show you how to keep pulled pork moist in a variety of circumstances.
What Causes Pulled Pork to Dry Out?
Lack of moisture is the obvious reason, but it’s actually a shade more complicated than that. The truth is, if your pulled pork is too dry when you serve it, there’s a good chance that it’s overcooked.
Here’s why: As the pork cooks, the natural moisture in the meat slowly evaporates, which is what leads to the dreaded “stall” (the point at which the meat holds its temperature for hours on end). Once the cooling effects of the evaporation are no longer enough to counteract the heat of the smoker, the internal temperature of the pork rises dramatically. If the temperature is allowed to rise above 202 degrees Fahrenheit, it will continue to lose moisture. This gives the meat a coarse, dry texture, particularly if it’s allowed to sit out for too long.
How to Keep Pulled Pork Warm & Moist
The best way to avoid this hurdle is to consume the pork as soon as it’s been properly cooked and shredded. Obviously, this isn’t always possible. If it were, there would be no need for this guide in the first place. That’s where we come in.
Because you’ll want to keep the pulled pork warm as you’re serving it, the crock pot provides an easy solution. Make sure your slow cooker is equipped with a tight-fitting lid, and place it near an electrical outlet before attempting to use it for this purpose. Keep the heat set to warm, or whatever the lowest setting is.
Of course, if you use this method, the pork will continue to cook slightly. That means you’ll have to introduce a bit of moisture from time to time in an effort to rehydrate the meat. We would recommend spraying it with a bit of chicken stock, which is thick enough to prevent too much steam from forming. It will also give the meat an extra dose of flavor. Apple juice will have a similar effect and complement the pork’s natural sweetness.
If you’d prefer, you can use white wine in lieu of stock or juice. We’re not big fans of this method, as we’ve found that the wine can overpower the pork flavor. When used in small quantities, though, it’s acceptable, as long as the pork is consumed as soon as possible.
Additionally, don’t forget to lift the meat with tongs or a serving fork while you’re applying the liquid. This will allow the moisture to spread evenly.
For tips from a caterer on how to keep pulled pork warm, take a look at this informational video.
About Reheating Pulled Pork
Now that we’ve covered how to keep pulled pork moist and warm, let’s talk about how to reheat any leftovers. This information should come in especially handy if you’re planning to cook the meat ahead for a tailgating party or holiday picnic.
Step 1: Packing
If the meat isn’t given the proper treatment before it’s stored, you’re not going to be happy with the results. Here are a few words of advice:
- Keep the pork intact. When the pork butt is kept in one piece during storage, it will retain more moisture.
- If you must shred the meat beforehand, use a set of heatproof gloves and do it when the meat is still piping hot.
- Seal the meat tightly in foil, then place the packets in zip-top bags. Squeeze out as much air from the bags as possible.
- If the meat is still hot when you pack it, bury the bags in an ice-filled cooler before putting the meat in the refrigerator.
- Refrigerate the pork when the internal temperature has dropped to the 40-degree range.
Step 2: Storage
For best results,consume any leftovers within 3 days. This rule is in effect whether the pork butt was shredded or left intact.
If you choose to freeze the pork butt after it’s been properly refrigerated, it should be thawed and reheated within 2 months. Thaw it in the fridge for at least 24 hours before reheating and serving.
You might also be interested in reading our article on how much pulled pork to prepare per person.
Step 3: Reheating
To preserve the mouthwatering texture of the reserved pork, heat it slowly over a low temperature. This can be done on the grill, on the stovetop, or in the oven.
If you choose the latter method, we would recommend wrapping the pork in foil and adding a few ounces of chicken stock beforehand. If you enjoy crisp bark—and who doesn’t?—try running the pork under the broiler for a few minutes once the internal temperature reaches 165 degrees.
With the right tools and technique, you can enjoy the delectable taste of your pulled pork hours after it’s been removed from the smoker.