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I just read a pork carnitas recipe and part of the workflow/steps went like this:

  1. braise meat (e.g. pork shoulder, pork butt) for 8+ hours
  2. remove meat, keep braising liquid available
  3. shred meat
  4. return shredded meat to braising liquid for another 30+ minutes
  5. remove meat
  6. broil meat for 5-7 minutes

In between steps 2-3, there was no mention of resting the meat. Perhaps that was implicit. Even if it was, it got me thinking. If you are returning the meat (post-shred) back to the braising liquid without ever having rested the meat, are you very likely compromising flavor and/or texture of the final product? If so, is that also a function of the animal and cut? Assume that any bled liquids from the shredding step are passed back to the braising mixture.

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  • Where are you asking about resting? If you shred then leave it out, it steams and gets kinda dry and a little tough. If you let it rest before shredding, it cools down and is more difficult to shred. I might break it into a few large chunks so they cook off a bit, then shred and immediately move back into the liquid
    – Joe
    Commented Mar 16, 2022 at 18:37

1 Answer 1

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Slow-cooked meats that get shreddable (pork butt, beef chuck, etc) are a little different than other cuts, like steaks and rare roast beef.

As a pork butt (or similar cut) cooks and breaks down, it loses the structure that holds juices in. Instead, the braising liquid contains much of that "juice"--including gelatin & melted fat. This is essentially why the meat is even shreddable. The act of shredding/pulling the meat just separates the meat in the spots where the connective tissue has already released the muscle fibers from each other, compared to slicing where you are cutting the muscle fibers apart where they would not naturally separate.

As a general rule, shredded or pulled meats are shredded while still warm/hot, then dressed with the braising liquid, sauce, or gravy to keep the meat juicy. If a recipe calls for letting the meat sit a short period before shredding, it us usually related to allowing it to cool to prevent burning yourself, rather than allowing it to rest, the way we do for a steak.

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