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So, after grilling a half picnic roast of pork (about 5lbs) for around 12 hours at about 200 - 250 (F) I found half of the final product to be tender and half tough. I sprinkled it with salt the night before, and then put on a dry rub over a splash of water a few minutes before it went onto the grill. I had planned to keep it on the grill (propane) until the internal temperature to had risen to about 200. 10 hours into the cook I kicked the temp up to about 300. The internal temp was about 192 when I took it off.

In the end, a large part of the roast pulled apart nicely like I expected, but some sections would not and seemed to be very dry. Only about half of the final pulled pork was edible.

I was monitoring the temperature with a dual probe thermometer, one probe in the meat and one in the nearby grill air. Unfortunately due to lax attention and some shifting weather that day, the grill temp did drop below 200 several times during the day, once for over an hour (I know thanks to the fancy history chart in my thermometer). The internal temp stalled at about 140 for over an hour but for the most part it was progressing nicely.

Did I overcook this by letting the grill run too cool for too long? Or was it from spiking the temp to 300 at the end?

  • I have never seen the term 'a half picnic roast of pork'. Is it a specific cut? Can it be that it was large enough to contain muscles suitable for slow cooking and muscles unsuitable for it? – rumtscho Mar 24 '17 at 12:23
  • I don't think so, I've used it before successfully. here are some interesting details: grilling24x7.com/…. – Segfault Mar 24 '17 at 17:09
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Always try to avoid spiking the temp. It's good to monitor and adjust, but consistency in temp is the most important thing with that method. Much like braising, meat reaches a point of no return where it starts to expel moisture during slow cooking, and that may very well be due to cranking it up.

Next time, just cover the meat and allow it to cook until it's time to rest, and allow it to rest covered for an additional 30 minutes if you had difficulties with even cooking. It's actually better to go a little lower and a little longer than crank up the heat.

  • This would not have helped OP. If it was tough, it was undercooked. – Sean Hart Mar 24 '17 at 20:13
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There are a couple of factors contributing to the issues you experienced:

  1. The tough and (seemingly) dry portions of your pork shoulder were undercooked. Tough means undercooked. Period. If you had overcooked your pork, it would have shredded into very dry, fine, threadlike strands of meat if you were to pinch it between your fingers.
  2. Your gas grill is not an optimal cooking chamber. When roasting meat, you are depending on your cooking chamber to have relatively even heat throughout. Like an oven. A gas grill is optimized for direct-heat cooking, so you cannot count on your roast being enveloped in even, constant heat. While you were measuring a certain temperature at one point in the grill, you can be assured that not all the surface of the pork was being exposed to that same temperature.

Spiking your temperatures up to 300* did not have an adverse impact. It was just too little too late, based on the scenario you have laid out. You spent a lot of time under 200*, and much of the shoulder saw even more time at such low temperatures. This leads to more frequent and longer stalls, which means less time for connective tissue to be rendered out of the meat. The fact that you saw a significant stall at 140* is very telling, especially with such a small cut of meat.

Assuming you want to try again with your gas grill, consider getting a rotisserie attachment for it. That would ensure relatively equitable exposure to heat for your entire roast. Or figure out where your hot spots and cold spots are on the grill when cooking with indirect heat, so you can operate around them.

  • Thanks Sean! What do you think about covering it like Tim mentioned? – Segfault Mar 24 '17 at 20:18
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    In your particular case, I don't know how much it would have helped. However, wrapping in foil or covering can get you through a temperature stall more quickly. First things first, you need to figure out what you are dealing with in your cooking environment. – Sean Hart Mar 24 '17 at 20:24

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