Being able to transform a piece of meat into juicy, shredded perfection doesn’t require any fancy equipment, just a little know-how – know-how we’ll give as part of our Food Science with Teys series.
Whether you want to master shredded beef tacos, pulled pork burgers, or any pulled meat dish it helps to understand the science of this technique.
Pulled or shredded?
Generally speaking, pulled meat and shredded meat are the same. The term “pulled” is usually associated with pulling meat off the bone, whereas shredded meat may be either pulled from the bone or come from a boneless cut.
Pulled meat and shredded meat can be substituted for each other in recipes, as long as you’ve used the right kind of cut in the first instance.
How to pull or shred meat?
Pulling or shredding meat involves cooking a meat slowly at a low to medium temperature, so the meat is tender and moist and soft enough to pull apart with a fork. The resulting “strands” of meat should be juicy and full of flavour.
Key to pulled or shredded meat is the cut of meat with inexpensive cuts often being the best option.
You will want to use a cut with connective tissue and a high fat content. Pork necks and shoulder cuts, work well, as do beef brisket and chuck pot roast. The connective tissue softens during cooking, making it easy to pull the meat apart. Cooking the meat slowly keeps the strands of meat tender.
It is important to ensure your meat doesn’t dry out, especially with extended cooking times. So it’s best to choose a larger cut of meat to reduce the amount of surface area exposed to the heat. Similarly, you don’t want to shred your meat into very small pieces as they can dry out quicker.
BBQ, Oven or Slow Cooker?
The barbecue is a popular choice for producing pulled meat, but an oven can achieve the same or similar results. When using a BBQ or oven, many cooks start with a rub, to create a delicious crust, and may baste the meat later to keep it moist.
While you won’t be able to achieve a crust with the slow cooker it is also a good option for keeping your meat moist, as it is cooked in stock and other flavours.
With the above tips you can create a pulled meat dish that is sure to impress your friends and family.
For a full range of beef cuts and products, check out our beef solutions here.