There's a common misconception that smoked meats can be stored longer than other meats. The truth is, they can harbor bacteria just like any other type of cooked meat. Smoked pork is simply a pork shoulder or roast that's been cooked slowly over indirect heat with smoke. This cooking method creates moist, flavorful results, but it doesn't preserve the meat. Store leftover smoked pork promptly and use it within a few days.
Smoked pork, like any other cooked meat, must be refrigerated within two hours of serving. As the pork sits at room temperature, it becomes a breeding ground for bacteria. Put any leftover smoked pork in a covered container or wrap it in plastic wrap and refrigerate it for as long as four days. Your refrigerator should be set to 40 degrees Fahrenheit. At warmer temperatures, bacteria can grow; a colder fridge might cause freezing. Freeze smoked pork for as long as three months at 0 degrees Fahrenheit. Wrap it tightly in plastic wrap or store it in a sealed plastic bag to avoid freezer burn.
When reheating smoked pork, use gentle methods so you don't dry out the meat. Add a bit of apple juice or water to the container and microwave for two to three minutes until the pork is hot. Or wrap it in aluminum foil and heat it in a warm oven until it's hot -- about 15 to 20 minutes. If you've got a lot of smoked pork left, reheat only what you need at a time, rather than reheating a large amount over and over again.
Freezing smoked pork in small containers allows you to take out just what you need for one meal. Always label smoked pork with the date before you toss it in the freezer so you know when to throw it away. To thaw frozen smoked pork, place it in the refrigerator overnight for best results. You may also microwave it on low for several minutes, or place it in a bowl in the sink filled with cold water. Replace the water every 30 minutes or so as it becomes warm. Don't thaw frozen smoked pork on the kitchen counter. The outside of the meat becomes warm, while the inner portions remain frozen, which can create an environment where bacteria can grow.
Smoked pork is an ideal choice for pulled pork sandwiches -- with or without the sauce -- but you can use it for many other dishes, too. For a different take on the pork sandwich, skip the sauce and add a slice of Provolone cheese instead. Place the pork on a soft roll. Wrap it in foil and heat it until the cheese melts. Throw reheated leftover smoked pork in soft tacos or add it to casseroles and soups. Throw a bit in scrambled eggs or add it to a pasta sauce. Smoked pork also makes tasty quesadillas.
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