Have you ever been in charge of cooking bbq for a large crowd or party and you just don’t have the time or smoker space to get everything done at the same time?
I’ve ran into this problem too, but I’ve cooked enough bbq to know how to be prepared for challenge of reheating meat.
Now everyone knows that bbq is best when it comes off the smoker. The meat has been properly rendered, a short rest lest the juices redistribute,and the product is moist and delicious. There’s nothing better….But you can still turn out jaw dropping Q by knowing how to bring the meat back to life after it’s been refrigerated or even frozen.
First, proper storage is key. Whether you’re cooking Pork Butts, Ribs, Chicken, or even Brisket, the meat has to be cooled fast and properly wrapped to keep it from drying out. Once it comes off the smoker, let it rest for a short period and then wrap it in heavy duty aluminum foil. If you have access to a vacuum sealer it works even better. For the larger cuts of meat I keep them in as large of pieces as possible. Pour any of the juices into the wrap and get it into the fridge or place it on ice. If you’re using a cooler, you can place the wrapped meat into XL Ziplock bags to prevent any water from seeping into the package.
Now that the meat is cooled, it can be stored for a couple of days in the fridge or placed in the freezer for longer storage. When it’s time to reheat the meat here’s what you do.
If the meat was frozen, take it out of the freezer a couple days ahead of time and allow it to thaw in a refrigerator. It’s not recommended to thaw meat at room temperature because bacteria can start to grow. You don’t want to take any chances when serving food to the public. Once the meat is thawed, there’s a couple of options to reheating it. You can fire up the smoker to 225 and bring it back that way, or you can use the oven in your kitchen. I prefer to bring it back on the smoker if possible. For the larger cuts of meat, pork butt and brisket, place the meat in a full size aluminum pan, add a little moisture (apple juice, stock, or thinned down bbq sauce), and cover the pan with aluminum foil. It takes a little over an hour at 225 to reheat the meat. For Ribs, leave them wrapped in aluminum foil and place them on the smoker. After 45 minutes, open up the foil packs to create a “boat”; now you can apply a glaze or for Dry Ribs, baste with a little apple juice/vinegar mixture and sprinkle with dry rub. After another 15-20 minutes the ribs are ready to serve.
I mentioned having a vacuum sealer earlier. It’s great for long term storage of fresh and frozen meat. After a contest, I’ll take leftover brisket or pulled pork, seal it in a bag, and toss into the freezer. I like to package this meat for quick dinners. To bring this meat back all that you have to do is boil a pot of water, place the frozen bag in it, and cut the heat off. The meat will warm in about 15 minutes, and it will be just as good as the day you froze it!
Once you have all of the meat warmed, you can adjust the seasoning. I like to add a little extra dry rub and maybe some warmed bbq sauce. Toss the meat around and it’s ready to go to the table. Your guest will think that you’ve been up all night slaving over the pit.