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Make Ahead Pulled Pork-FoodSaver Tip

This was a very happy accidental discovery that I made years ago concerning my FoodSaver and pulled pork leftovers. I thought I’ve written a blog about this in the past, but after looking unsuccessfully for it today I figured it would make a good tip. So this tip will discuss how you can actually make better pulled pork by cooking it ahead of time and eating it as leftovers. I know this sounds like it is the reverse of what should be true, but read on.

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When I first got my smoker I used to try to make my pulled pork so the meat would finish up about 2 hours or so before I wanted to pull it. I’d end up starting it around 2AM hoping for a mid-afternoon finish. If you’ve ever smoked a Boston Butt you’ll already know it is hardly an exact science. Just after I purchased a FoodSaver, I made some pulled pork which I intended to eat on Saturday afternoon and then serve as leftovers again on Sunday. I ended up with about 3 FoodSaver bags full of leftover pulled pork which had already been sauced. I brought the FoodSaver bags with me on Sunday and heated them in a large pan of water which I’d pre-heated to 170 degrees. I used a candy thermometer to monitor the temps. After 45 minutes in the 170 degree water I took the bags out, cut them open and served the pulled pork. To my great surprise the left over pulled pork was better than the better than the original version I’d eaten the day before. Being in the vacuum sealed bags had acted as sort of a super marinator/injector and the sauce wad been drawn deeply into the meat. The meat was moist and infused with flavor. In my experience it is rare that leftovers are better than the first serving, but this appeared to be the case. Skeptic that I am I had to make it again before I believed this discovery. I am happy to say that what I discovered was the real deal-the leftover had more intense flavor after spending time in the FoodSaver bags.

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A candy thermometer is perfect for measuring the temperature of the water in a large pan.


This discover has two wonderful benefits both having to do with time and scheduling. The first benefit was I could now make the pulled pork one or more days ahead of time and I could schedule it when it was convenient for me because I wasn’t planning to eat it, just pull sauce and bag it. Before I’d start it at 1 or 2 AM and have to do an all-nighter so I could eat it at 4PM. I now work from home so I could cook it any day of the week, or even the weekend before. I could start it at 5 or 6 AM, not 1 or 2AM, and it would finish at 8 or 9PM. I would let it rest, pull it and bag it and I was done by 11PM. I could now pick a day with the best weather to cook in as opposed to being stuck with the weather on the day I was eating it. This is a huge change. I haven’t pulled an all-nighter in about 6 years.

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Here the pulled pork has been sauced & is being weighed out in one pound portions to go into the FoodSaver bags. You can eyeball the amount, but I like to have similar portion sized bags.


The second benefit is a very predictable process on the day I actually do want to serve the pulled pork. Once you learn how long it takes to warm a large pan full of water to 170 on your stove (about 30 minutes for me) and you learn how long the reheat of your item takes (about 45 minutes for one pound bags of pulled pork) your meal day is a very relaxed affair. In my case I need to start 75 minutes before I want to eat. One of the bonuses of this 170 degree reheat process is you are not cooking the food any further. If your guests are late or you need to delay your dinner time, you can simply keep the bags in the water longer. This whole process from start to finish is far more predictable (and stress free) than trying to cook a pork shoulder on the day you want to eat it and have it finish up on time.

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This was from a rib cook where I did 16 racks of ribs. I cooked the ribs over two days in four cooks of four racks. Then I cut the racks into 1/3 rack portions & bagged them for reheating on the weekend


This discovery changed the way I barbecued and made all-nighters a thing of the past. I should add that it works the best for pulled pork. I don’t recommend it for brisket, but it works pretty well for ribs too. I cut the ribs into 1/3 of a rack pieces and install each 1/3 of a rack into it’s own FoodSaver bag. Reheating at 170 takes about 45 minutes just like the bags of pulled pork. While the pulled pork comes out better, ribs are probably about 85-90 percent as good leftover. This still makes the ribs better than most of what you will get at your local BBQ joint. For small batches for home use I make the ribs fresh, they are very predictable compared to pulled pork. But I have been asked to make large batches of ribs for several parties in the summer. I cook 20 or 30 racks of ribs over several days, several days or a week or more ahead of time. Then I store them in 1/3 rack portions in FoodSaver bags. On the day of the party I reheat them in as many large pans as needed on an as needed basis. I always get rave reviews for the ribs I do this way and it is my little secret that they aren’t quite as good as they could be. So if you have a FoodSaver give this tip a try. If you don’t have a FoodSaver this one tip alone makes the FoodSaver worth getting. Think of it no more all-nighters for pulled pork.

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