How to improve dry, tough pulled pork for leftovers?

Boyfriend slow cooked a bone-in pork shoulder yesterday (attempting Momofuku style). Unfortunately, he accidentally followed a boneless recipe--so it didn't shred well at all and was kind of bland. We were hoping to use leftovers for tacos tonight, but the meat is a little tough and dry. Any ideas on how to fix it up for tacos?



jsdunbar March 8, 2013
BBQ sauce & maple syrup will add moisture and flavour when you reheat it. That's not taco style, but it's good!

Voted the Best Reply!

ChefOno March 7, 2013

I also should have asked the weight but I'm even more certain it's undercooked based on time and temp. A digital thermometer is a cook's best friend. Next time stick a probe in the meat and watch what happens. Roasting (and smoking) introduce a concept referred to by barbeque enthusiasts as "the stall". Somewhere around 150 or 170F the temperature will stop climbing and the meat will remain at that temperature until it sweats out enough water, sometimes for hours. Evaporative cooling is the principle at work. Knowing that, you can prevent the stall by wrapping the roast in aluminum foil. If you have a convection oven, you can speed things along by turning on the fan. Or you can braise instead of roasting which eliminates the whole problem.

For pulled pork, your final temperature should be 190F. You can, of course, test with a fork but a $15 thermometer will save you a lot of hassle and teach you a great deal in the process.

meganireland March 7, 2013
Thanks! This is our first time screwing up pulled pork (totally forgot to use our thermometer), but those temp guidelines will help ensure we don't do it again.
ZombieCupcake March 7, 2013
Hoisin sauce with apple juice
ChefOno March 7, 2013

Bland is easy to recover from, especially with tacos. Moisture, not so much. Sure it will hold some liquid but it won't relax and become less tough -- if it's truly overcooked. And that becomes the question. Properly smoked or braised, connective tissue converts to gelatin and the meat will pull apart easily since there's nothing left to hold it together anymore. There's a good chance, knowing only what you've written, that the meat is not cooked enough. It would help to know the method employed, the time and temperature at which it was cooked and the roast's final temperature.

Incidentally, bones add a little cooking time and more flavor but not a night and day difference.

meganireland March 7, 2013
He roasted it at 250 for about 6 hours, and then at 500 for about 10-15 minutes to finish the sugary-salty crust. (Unsure of the final temp.) Since he had a bone-in and the recipe was for a boneless shoulder, I think it wasn't cooked long enough to reach the easy-to-pull point.
Torym November 17, 2019
I’m guessing undercooked. I do 8+ hours at such a low temp. Let it come to room temp. Put it in a Dutch oven with chicken broth and garlic and cook on low (250), lid on, for two or three more hours.
Cristina S. March 7, 2013
Normally I use leftover pan juices to moisten leftover pulled pork, so maybe whip up a broth to imitate pan juices?

Start with the most flavorful stock you can get your hands on, then add a little worcestershire and/or mustard and/or hot sauce and/or steak sauce and/or cider vinegar and/or honey. Add minced garlic and/or onion, plus spices like thyme and/or paprika and/or cayenne and/or oregano and/or brown sugar and/or cumin.

You can also make a slaw to add moisture. This could work: Or this one, in another direction:
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