Let’s take a look at how to reheat frozen pulled pork to guarantee as much flavor and texture as possible.
Pulled pork is delicious. However, like many other foods, the difference in textures, as well as a desire to preserve what makes the meat so good, makes reheating pulled pork quite difficult. This is all the more true regarding frozen pulled pork.
As with reheating any frozen food, the speed at which a food is defrosted can adversely impact texture.
For the best results, allow frozen food to be defrosted in the refrigerator overnight. For some large items, like a turkey or an entire Boston Butt, it can take significantly longer.
If you have to have something defrosted quickly, you have two other options.
If the food is frozen in such a way that there is a lot of surface area relative to the size of the food, then running cold water over it will help it safely come up to temperature.
Alternatively, putting frozen pulled pork in the microwave on defrost can do the job, albeit somewhat unevenly.
Whatever you do, don’t just leave the pork out on the counter. Pork is especially susceptible to the sort of bacteria that can make someone very sick.
Preserving the Taste When You Reheat Frozen Pulled Pork
When it comes to pulled pork, there are at least one, if not three, aspects of taste that you will likely want to preserve.
The first of these is how moist the meat is. Through the cooking process, fatty deposits throughout the pork dissolve at around 185 degrees, rendering an otherwise chewy piece of meat to be exceptionally tender. Overcooking can render that process useless.
Additionally, assuming that the pork was smoked, you’ll have another issue in that few people want to get rid of the smoky goodness of the pork.
Finally, if you’re lucky enough to have gotten an edge piece, you will be loathe to do anything that would harm the bark of the meat, that smoky, flavorful, dark exterior of a boston butt.
What to Avoid
By far the most common way to reheat frozen pulled pork is to thaw it and put it in the microwave. This method is not without some merit, but it should be done for the sake of speed, not for quality.
The uneven method of cooking that a microwave permits means that you’ll constantly have to stir the pork, and even then some of the volatile compounds that lend itself to the aroma of the meat will have dissipated.
Likely, some may think that this is an application for an air fryer. However, the high temperatures that are created as a result of an air fryer would overcook the meat.
Best Ways to Reheat Frozen Pulled Pork
Instead, we recommend one of two different ways of rewarming pulled pork, neither of which is perfect.
If you have the time, a low oven is the way to go, especially if you cook the meat on a rack or grate that promotes air flow.
If you have a piece that is particularly bark heavy, no more than 2-3 minutes in an air fryer may revive that texture, but only after the rest of the pork has been rewarmed.
However, if you want to preserve as much smoky flavor as possible, consider using a sous vide cooker to bring the meat to exactly 165 degrees for long enough to safely consume the meat. Because you’re not melting collagen, but instead just rewarming it, this will be sufficient to prevent overcooking.