home Forums Beginner Basics First attempt at pressure cooked pulled pork came out tougher than expected

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  • #889961
    LMF5000
    Participant

    I’ve had my Bella 6qt electric pressure cooker for 2 years and have been a member of hippressure cooking about that long, but so far I’ve mostly used it for cooking beans and other veggies, and white meats like chicken and turkey.

    We usually cook pulled pork in the oven for a few hours but today I tried it in the PC. I basically adapted our home recipe, which went like this:
    1. Bought a 2.5kg pork loin from the butcher and had him cut it into 3 pieces
    2. Put a tablespoon of vegetable oil in the base of the pot, seared the pork from all sides and removed them from the pot
    3. Added one coarsely sliced onion and caramelised it
    4. Added back the pork, sprinkled on some rabbit seasoning, BBQ seasoning, salt, pepper and an oxo beef stock cube
    5. Added one bottle (330 or 500ml) of milk stout (similar to lager) as cooking liquid
    6. Cooked for 70 minutes in “meat” mode (my PC does not have variable pressure. The removable weight on the valve reads 90kPa)
    7. Waited 10-15 minutes for the pressure to release
    8. Released the rest of the pressure using the valve

    At this point the pork was tender enough to tear apart with a fork, but not as tender, soft and juicy as it usually is when made in the oven.

    Any ideas how I can improve it? Longer cooking time? Shorter cooking time? Let the pressure natural release all the way instead of rushing the last bit? Switching to pork shoulder instead of loin?

    I will try and add photos of the liquid level before and after to give some context. The pork leached out an impressive amount of liquid.

    #889962
    LMF5000
    Participant

    Searing the meat

    Before Pressure Cooking

    After Pressure Cooking

    After shredding/pulling the pork and reducing the juices and adding BBQ sauce

    #890012
    Greg
    Participant

    I see a number of problems.
    1. You used pork loin. This is a very lean cut. These tend not to be best suited to long slow cooks, even (especially?) when sped up in the PC. Switch to shoulder, or leg at a pinch.
    2. You shortened the pressure release time. Never a good idea with meat. At the high temperatures involved, the moisture left in the meat quickly evaporates leaving the meat dry. Switch to a full natural release, and even wait a while after pressure has fully released before lifting the lid to let the meat “rest”.
    3. You cooked it for 70 minutes high pressure. Ouch. This is the timing Laura gives for pork stock (i.e. squeeze all the goodness out of the meat and put it into the broth). Laura suggests 12 minutes at 80kPa for pork loin. It will be less at your 90kPa. Though there are a lot of factors that will come into play here. Timing is never hard and fast until you get some experience under your belt.

    #890017
    LMF5000
    Participant

    Thank you for the helpful advice Greg :)

    I sort of guessed about points 1 and 2. I will use shoulder next time and release it naturally all the way.

    Re point 3, agreed, I will reduce cooking time next time – but 12 minutes seems a little on the low side to my conventional-oven-honed instincts – though I appreciate that it will be 10 minutes of warmup, 12 minutes of pressure and 20 minutes of cooldown. Can you confirm from personal experience that it works well? How much pork and how many pieces do you cut it into, and is yours a 6L pressure cooker?

    I got my 70 minutes from the instruction book that came with the pressure cooker. It says 2.5kg of pork and doesn’t mention cutting it into pieces (so maybe that’s another contributing factor since my 3 smaller pieces cook faster). It also says to release the pressure instantly, but as an engineer I know that’s a great way to extract all the superheated juice from inside the meat and dessicate it – so I didn’t follow that part ;). I checked a couple recipes online before I started, and their cooking times were between 40 and 85 minutes (typically 60 minutes). For what it’s worth when shredding the pork I found the edges were quite tender and it was the centers that were tougher and more fibrous.

    #890019
    Greg
    Participant

    Sadly Laura is away at the moment, and if I put links in, the post will wait for Laura to approve it manually. I do wish Laura would create a white list of sites that didn’t have to go through this process. Even a link to a page on her own website will trigger the process. [/end whinge]

    As an engineer, you should know that heat travels through things at a set speed. Different things have different rates, but it holds true for all solids (fluids are complicated by convection) from a copper pipe to an insulating bat. Changing the environment will change that speed a bit, but for a given environment it remains true.

    Heat is what cooks things. So the thicker a piece of food is the longer it takes to cook. So a full rack of loin will take longer to cook than a single pork loin chop. And a loin from a piglet will cook faster than a loin from a full grown boar. Sadly Laura didn’t say how thick a piece of loin she was referring to. Something I have had a dig at her on more than one occasion. It is also why I specified these were Laura’s timings. Loin is tender meat. It has almost no connective tissue to cause toughness. So it needs very little time to break down tendons and gristle. So it cooks much faster than, say, Shoulder (Laura’s timing: 55 minutes – again no indication of thickness. Sigh.)

    The wanna be links start here:
    At the top of the page, there is a link to timing charts. Follow that link to get to Laura’s timing on just about anything. And while I have issues with her precision, they are better than pretty much anything you will find on the internet or in a book. (Remember the book that came with your pressure cooker was created by marketers and pressure cooker engineers, not necessarily cooks).

    Also Laura has her own Pulled Pork recipe. Again go to the top of the page and click on the magnifying glass icon this time. Search for “Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps” and you will find it pretty quickly. I have made it. It is excellent. You can ignore the lettuce wraps if you want.

    Another worthwhile site is DadCooksDinner run by Mike Vrobel. Go over there and search for Cochinita Pibil. Not quite pulled pork, but I have made that too and it is a treat. Mike lacks the thoroughness Laura displays, but all his recipes are well researched and tested – usually on his kids :) I wouldn’t hesitate to try any of his recipes too.

    Personally, almost all my “large chunk of meat” cookery is done Sous Vide these days so I am not the best person to ask about this sort of thing in the pressure cooker. A pulled pork dish takes about three days SV.

    #890051
    LMF5000
    Participant

    Thanks for the thorough reply :). Yes, the big table of cooking times is why I keep coming back to this site. Nothing like it anywhere on the internet. If only the formatting/styling of the site could be improved so it displayed properly on mobile ;). I’ve ticked the box to be notified by email of follow up replies, but I never seem to get any.

    I will need to do more research and experimentation on the pulled pork. I actually keep a little diary of the stuff I cook regularly and the perfect cooking time. I have my beans timed perfectly. Thing is, I don’t use the PC so much. There’s just so much to clean. Inner pot, upper liner, the lid itself, all the gaskets, and the various crevices of the bottom unit. In the oven it’s just one tray. Sure it takes 3x as long, but it’s set-and-forget like the PC so the extra cooking time is not a huge factor most days.

    #890055
    Suzanne
    Participant

    LMF5000, you said, “I’ve ticked the box to be notified by email of follow up replies, but I never seem to get any.” Same here. It used to work, but doesn’t now.

    You had me at “I actually keep a little diary of the stuff I cook regularly and the perfect cooking time.” I do the same thing, just posted on my refrigerator door. Greg explained timing considerations well.

    You probably know by now that there are a number of things PCs don’t do well. As I see it, any food that results in the amount of cleaning you detail goes in the “Does poorly” column.

    I have a good quality stovetop PC and an Instant pot. I still use my stovetop for almost all pressure cooked things, in part, because it is so easy to clean. Compared to it, the IP lid/top rim is too complicated to clean regularly.

    That said, I’ve read online some folks claiming they seldom clean their PC lids, which may be perfectly safe if what they cook doesn’t foam or splash. My 6-quart stovetop PC lid gets a rinse-off about once a month, and a disassembly about twice a year. But that’s because what I cook usually doesn’t leave lid residue.

    My 6-quart IP gets used only to cook a week’s worth of oat groats, because they require more monitoring/burner adjustment/time in a stovetop PC than I have patience for. They don’t throw scum on the lid or rim because they cook pot-in-pan in a bowl with a screen covering the bowl to keep the scum from rising. Maybe this approach would work for your pulled pork. I haven’t given the IP lid or rim a wash since its initial unpack wash (6 months ago) and they are spotless. Its set-it-forget-it capability for oats with the delay timer alone has made it worth having.

    But because it is a slower and fussier (burn notices and fiddley-to-clean) tool, and because it has a far more limited lifespan than a good stove top PC, I have stuck with the stovetop PC for the other things I cook.

    The popular discussion tends to assume electric PCs are superior to stovetop PCs. I disagree. Maybe you would find a good stovetop PC less burdensome to clean. Just my two — or five — cents.

    #890056
    Greg
    Participant

    I disagree with “popular” opinion too. I tried an Electric (Breville Fast Slow Pro in my case) which I used while I was renovating the kitchen. I went back to my Kuhn Rikons as soon as my burners were working again.

    I find the cleaning is much easier on the Stove tops. And I only clean the lid if it has got mucky -i.e. rarely!

    As I said earlier, I have moved most of my “large chunk of meat” cooking to Sous Vide. If you are prepared to sacrifice the bags you cook in, the clean up drops to virtually zero with that method. I even do “roasts” SV. But these days, with a family of two, I look for small pieces to SV, then blowtorch them to put a roast like crust on them. For the “roast” veg, I pressure cook them, then drop them in the deep frier for a minute or two to get a good crust on them. This works best if I suck the moisture out with my vaccuum sealer first. The result is actually better than I can get out of my oven.

    I still pressure cook a whole chook though, Oh and Corned Silverside.

    Oh and notifications haven’t worked for me for at least a year. I make it a habit to check the forums every day or two.

    #890240
    Suzanne
    Participant

    Greg, your “roast” potatoes sound like something out of Modernist Cooking!

    I keep hearing about the fires in your country. Are you and Pam safe? Hope so.

    #890249
    Greg
    Participant

    I got the idea from Heston Blumenthal at Home. He does his “Triple Cooked Chips” this way, though he uses the freezer rather than a chamber vacuum to dry them out. (I suspect that he actually uses a Chamber Vacuum too, but simplified it for home kitchens). He starts his roast potatoes the same way, but then puts them in the oven. I thought “why not combine the two? and it worked :)

    As for the fires we are still safe for now. We live surrounded by National Park so most of the time we live in a gorgeous part of the world. It is very worrying right now. We have a VERY large (~2,000 sq miles) that has come within 10km to the north. Another smaller one (~40 sq mi) slightly close to the west and a third large one to the south (750,000 sq mi) that is about 15km away. But a lot of other people have not been so lucky. Only a handful of deaths so far, but more than 500 houses destroyed statewide so far this fire season. Another heatwave forecast for next weekend. That will change the map for the worse again then.

    #890013
    Greg
    Participant

    I forgot…
    Check out
    https://www.dadcooksdinner.com/pressure-cooker-cochinita-pibil-yucatecan-pit-cooked-pork/ for a tested recipe. I am pretty sure Dave developed this when he was still using a stove top.

    Or this one from Laura:

    Pressure Cooker Pulled Pork Lettuce Wraps!

    I have made both in my StoveTop and they are both delicious.

    #890319
    Suzanne
    Participant

    Greg, so glad you and Pam are safe. May you remain safe.

    I worked for the U.S. Forest Service one year while in college. They made me train and pass an exam to be ready to fight fires if needed. Happily, the fires that year were moderate, so I wasn’t. But your eucalyptus trees sound like a whole different magnitude of risk compared to Rocky Mountain conifers.

    On the news it showed a rescued koala bear drinking from a plastic water bottle like a small child. So cute. But like you, we lost a whole town in California last year to wildfires. It’s not just the people losing homes — it’s also the people downwind who breathe. Two summers ago smoke from Canadian wildfires parked over us most of the summer, and it felt like breathing mild acid outdoors.

    Wish I could send you some of our snow.

    #890340
    Greg
    Participant

    Thank you for your concern. The next few days will be interesting to say the least. The fires around us have been relatively quiescent the last few days, but we have heatwave conditions predicted today and for the next week. The fires will probably flare up again, but hopefully the containment lines the firies have put over the last couple of days will hold.

    Oddly the smoke doesn’t bother us too much, except in the mornings after the still of the night. I think it is because we are so close. It hasn’t had the time to spread out, so unless the wind is blowing it straight toward us, it misses. It is much worse in Sydney about 80km away.

    That koala footage is actually several years old and came from the Ash Wednesday fires in Victoria. Victoria usually has worse fire seasons than we do because the winters are colder so the leaf litter doesn’t break down as much and there is more fuel on the ground. But this year it is much worse right around the country. Our local fire season started probably a month earlier than usual, and the big Gosper’s Mountain fire just to the north of us has been burning continuously for about two months now. We are all just waiting for rain

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