Pulled pork is everyone’s favorite, with all of us having our own recipes and secrets to cooking it to perfection. It takes experience and a fair amount of effort to get the pulled pork right every time. And not just me and you, even seasoned pit masters end up with leftovers when cooking and serving pulled pork. The simple reason is that it is a big chunk of meat and unless you are cooking for a large group it is unlikely that there are no leftovers. The cut used to make pulled pork comes from the shoulder of the animal. It can be about 10 pounds or more in weight and is a large cut. This makes knowing how to reheat pulled pork critical. Reheating pulled pork properly also comes in handy when you are planning to cook ahead and freeze or refrigerate the cooked meat for your next party.
Ensuring food safety
There are several methods you can employ to reheat pulled pork. But before we delve into them it is important to take care not to contaminate the cooked pork or let it dry out. Food safety is an obvious concern when you plan to reheat pork. If you do not take a few critical measures bacteria can develop and contaminate the meat. While this is a potential health concern, the measures you need to avoid it are simple. Safety measures begin with the correct way to store cooked pork. The process I follow works well with any method you might choose to reheat the pork. Portion out the cooked pork, pack them in sealed bags adding a bit of dripping liquid to each of the bags and freeze them. When you are planning to follow this process ensure that the cooked or leftover pork has not been left out for more than 2 hours after you have finished cooking it. If you plan to eat or use the stored pork the next day you can safely put it in the refrigerator or else store it in the freezer. And whenever you reheat the pulled pork ensure that the meat reaches an internal temperature of at least 155-165 degrees. Use your meat thermometer to check the temperature and serve immediately.
Avoiding the dry out
In addition to food safety, the other biggest concern one has is to not let the pork dry out. Nothing is more disappointing than having the perfectly cooked pulled pork with your signature flavor dry out and lose its flavor on reheating. The more moisture the meat is able to retain, the lesser the chances of it drying out on reheating. The simplest way to avoid the drying out of reheated pork is by adding a liquid when reheating. In addition to using dripping liquids, you can use apple juice as it imparts a nice flavor and helps in making the meat tender. Apple juice has enzymes that break down the meat thus tenderizing it. On most occasions, I use both the dripping liquids and apple juice. Using the two liquids imparts a sweet and smokey flavor on reheating the pork roast. Other liquids that you can choose from wine, beer, corn syrup, and apple cider. I have used white wine to good effect with some recipes, though you can choose any of the liquids based on your flavor preference. If you have stored or refrigerated the dripping liquid separately, you will notice that the fat forms a layer on top. This happens when the liquid has cooled down, remove this layer of fat when you are adding the liquid during reheating. I do not use this fat for reheating pulled pork but use it for the veggies including onion, asparagus, carrots and a few other. The dripping liquid and the separated fat can be stored for about 7 days in the refrigerator.
How to reheat pulled pork – 4 tried and tested methods
Everyone has their own favorite method to reheat pulled pork. Some of them help retain most of the moisture and flavor whereas others might not work as well. We are going to discuss 4 methods that work every single time, all you need to do is follow the simple steps correctly. There are a few things I do before moving on to actual reheating. One major thing I always do is to thaw frozen pulled pork in the refrigerator, letting the meat stay there for 24 hours. This is the easiest and safest method. All you need to do is plan ahead and store the meat in a suitable container or sealable bags. Another one is to always save, store and use the dripping liquids. The best way to reheat pulled pork will be the one that you can follow easily with the equipment and ingredients that you already have in your kitchen.
Reheating pulled pork in the oven
This method is popular with restaurants and home cooks as well. It works well when you do not want to cook outdoors or fire up the grill. Here are the steps involved in this method.
- Preheat the oven to 225 °F.
- Add 1/2 a cup of liquid of your choice and double wrap the meat in foil. Ensuring that there are no outlets to let the moisture evaporate.
- Put the wrapped meat in a baking pan and place it in the oven until it reaches an internal temperature of about 155-165 °F. You will need to check in on the meat every 30 minutes till it reaches the desired temperature.
- Once the meat reaches the desired temperature remove the reheated pulled pork from the foil wrap and place it under the broiler for a few minutes. Let it stay there till you achieve the desired crispiness.
- After you remove from the oven add a bit of your favorite sauce and serve.
How to reheat pulled pork in a grill
This method involves placing the cooked pork in a foil over indirect heat on your gas or charcoal grill.
- Fire up the grill on one side and heat the grill to 225 °F.
- Double wrap the meat in foil. Add about 1/4th cup of liquid of your choice mixed with the dripping liquid before you seal the foil.
- Put the meat in a pan over indirect heat and close the lid. Check after 30 minutes.
- Remove from the indirect side when the internal temperature reaches 155-165 °F.
- Once the meat reaches the desired internal temperature, unwrap and place over direct heat in a preheated pan for a couple of minutes to crisp up the bark. If the pork has not been pulled when cooked initially you can place it directly over the heat.
- With this method, the reheated pork will not need any additional flavors before serving.
How to reheat pulled pork in a crockpot
This method requires the least bit of attention, it will let you set-it and forget-it.
- Fill the crock pot with dripping liquid and apple juice. Use about 2 1/2 cup of liquid to 4 parts of meat.
- Set the crock pot to a low temperature for about 2 hours. Using high or warm setting will either scorch it or expose the meat to unsafe temperatures giving the bacteria a chance to develop.
- Check the temperature by taking out a spoonful of meat and if the temperature has reached about 155 °F. If not continue to cook.
- When the desired temperature is reached, take out the meat with a ladle in a separate container.
- Dress with the sauce of your choice and serve.
How to reheat pulled pork sous vide style
For this method, you will need a vacuum sealing machine and the specially made bags. With this method will let you serve the reheated pork that tastes and looks just like your original recipe. Here are the steps you need to follow.
- Add the cooked pork and the dripping liquid in the bags and vacuum seal bags.
- Store these sealed bags in the refrigerator or the freezer. Based on when you need to reheat the pork, thaw in the refrigerator for 24 hours.
- Put the thawed meat still in the sealed bags in boiling water for about 30 to 45 minutes.
- Take out the bags carefully from the boiling water and cut open the bags. Ensure that the temperature reaches 155-165 °F.
- Put the reheated pork in a separate container, add barbeque sauce and serve.
How many times can you reheat and serve pulled pork
You can reheat pulled pork as many times as you like, but it does come with the risk of contamination and the food getting spoiled. If you follow the steps discussed above to safely store food and thaw it safely in the refrigerator, reheating more than once can work well. And every time you reheat ensure that the leftovers are sealed not later than 2 hours after reheating. Store it in the freezer if you do not plan to use reheat it next day and do not leave out the cooked meat in the refrigerator for more than 4-5 days.
With the right method and associated steps, you can get the best out of your reheated pulled pork. It is not too hard or impossible to retain the original flavor and keep the pork moist upon reheating. Enjoy the reheated bbq with the sauce and sides of your choice.