70 Marines against a Bar-b-chef offset smoker?

Discussion in 'Catering & Large Group Gatherings' started by bauchjw, Sep 5, 2015.

  1. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    SMF motivated me to offer smoking meat and beans for 70 Marines in a few weeks. My problems are 1) I am a Marine too and cannot just smoke meat for a day or two while everyone else trains and 2) I only own two traditional webber kettle grill and an old Bar-b-chef offset smoker. So after combing through this forum and other threads I think I have a game plan; any advice, corrections, encouragement would be very appreciated. I am also doing a practice run tomorrow with 20 people so I will post some picks of that process along with my plan.

    For the big smoke in a few weeks I plan on using 40 pounds bone in pork butt with basic rub and will use Jeff's finishing sauce (I know JJ has a good one too). These I will do 48 hours out along with (2) tins of Gary's baked beans and (2) tines of Dutch's Wicked baked beans. When meat is done I will pull/chop and add finishing sauce and along with completed beans they will stay in a fridge until time to warm and serve. 12 hrs prior to serving I planned on doing 2x20 pound briskest with basic rub. The last hr of brisket cooking I thought I could put the waiting beans on the webers to warm up. The waiting pork will go on the bar-b-chef after the brisket comes off and starts to get sliced.

    Ok then... Does that sound reasonable enough to pull off? Does it even make sense? Thank you for your time.

    The following is somewhat of a test run for tomorrow. I tried to do it with cold pork butt I cooked a few days ago, but it was eaten too quickly. I really just want more practice with a lot of meat on the pit and to have friends over. Meats are wrapped for the night and Gary's baked beans are waiting for drippings. I'll start cooking early.

    bdskelly likes this.
  2. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    Hmmm....if marines are anything like army grunts you could just PT 'em for a few extra hours, smoke road kill skunks and they'd eat 'em up just fine.  But your idea is likely better.

    Thank you for both your service and you willingness to do this.  Your plan seems workable and the quantities should be very adaquate. 

    Pans of cold meat and beans can take a long time to warm up and if done over direct heat on a grill or burner are prone to scorching (even over Sterno in a chafing dish rack).  One way to reduce that risk is to nest each pan into another pan that has a little water in it.  As long as you keep water in the bottom pan you are very unlikely to scorch the food.  If you have the room to heat them indirectly in the Webers then you have far less of a scorchint chance but may need more time.

    It might be better to allow more time for the cold pans to warm.  It will be easier to hold them if they warm up before serving time than it would be to have to rush them.

    Are you going to feed them tactically?  How about going old school and using mess kits and canteen cups?

    I hope you have a great time.

  3. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    Thank you for the response Lance. I wiould love to feed them tactically, but we are doing brain training, aka thinking. I know Marines don't have that reputation, but even a broken clock is right twice. You gave me good advice. Tonight's trial had problems because of cold pans and bean temps. The beans changed cooking times drastically and the brisket failed (my opinion).

    Bulk cook of beans and butt seems to double time. Based on Lances recommendations I will heat bigger pans and fill with steamed water while reheating. Thank you again. Semper Fi.
  4. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    I didn't bother with pictures after this. Looks pretty here, but brisket came out pot roasty and over cooked while pork didn't hit internal temp until 1hr after brisket then shot to 210 degrees between me seeing the remote and going out to pull it off. Epic fail for me on smoking meat. I'm really bummed. Friends/neighbors liked it, but most don't understand. They are honest people about what they understand, which means it beat average grilling, but something sucked and the beans are the main culprit.

    What did I screw up on? I think the beans are the major issue. Water stabilizes temp, but full tin of beans creates a whole new dynamic.

    For big smoke I'll only do pork butt. For Beans I'll separate and cook in oven! I love smoking food, but until I can spend thousands on a rig for over 50 people I have to be real. Brisket..... That may have to wait for another group of Marines.
  5. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    I pulled off brisket at 170 IT. Would my buddy throwing foil over top make it a pot roast?
  6. waterinholebrew

    waterinholebrew Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Sorry your smoke did not turn out to your liking ! Pulling a brisket at 170* IT, it was undercooked... Brisket has to get to round 200* IT or until probe tender, meaning ya stick your probe or a toothpick into the brisket & it has little to no resistance ! Brisket, like pork butt has connective tissue that has to break down to be tender ! Foiling would help in cutting down stall time, but it would not make it a pot roast !
  7. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    Dang, I can't believe I screwed up IT like that. It was the recommended temp in a recipe I was following. Expensive lesson learned! Thank you!
  8. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    Pulled pork really lends itself to making ahead and is a favorite of mine, as are beans, if I want to relax and spend some time with a group instead of cooking. 

    Depending on quantities and especially if you have someone to help, the microwave oven can be a great tool to reheat things like PP or beans.  Use a big bowl and make a hollow in the food or use a low sided baking dish with the goal being to have an even layer.  Since you can stir those things as they warm up you can use a higher energy level than reheating something solid and things can go pretty quick. 

    Maybe you could start cooking the beans in the smoker and finish them in the oven.  That way they'd have the smoke flavor you want and you'd be able to use the oven or microwave to reheat them.   With the water in the pan trick you can reheat over stove burners too with moderate settings.

    For pulled pork, especially for a lot of it, I usually start with smoking them for about 4-5 hours and move it to a large covered roasting pan to finish in a low oven.  That way I can save the juices that would have wound up evaporating away or dripping into the bottom of the smoker and you'd be surprised how much there will be.  The finer you shred the meat the more protein you will expose and the more liquid it can hold.  If you take the accumlated juices and defat them you can then stir most or all of it back into the shredded meat which results in a more flavorful and much moister product.  We've done informal blind taste tests among family, friends and folks at the local sportsman's club and the moister pork is a consistant winner.  Folks don't feel the need for as much sauce and they get a better taste of the meat, smoke and spice.  It doesn't hurt that you have more PP to serve either.  We use just enough sauce to moisten the PP after shredding and put out sauce  on the side.  Most folks don't ever reach for it.

    Slaw is another good make ahead item and having some for folks to use on their sandwich if desired can add variety to a simple menu with little effort and is easy to serve.

    I've never frozen baked beans but PP freezes wonderfully so don't worry about leftover pork.  Even though it's mostly just Nancy and me I usually do 5 large butts when doing PP and vacuum pack it in meal sized bags.  For large groups I've also used Lisa's (vacuumsealersunlimited.com)  premium gallon bags and pressed the PP into an even layer after sealing. When frozen or refrigerated, reheating them is as simple as dropping them a big pot of hot water for a few minutes as needed.  They can also be microwaved if you make a small cut in the bag first. Reheating in a vacuum bag works for beans, too.

    I hope all this rambling helps.  Now for your new smoker you can go down to the surplus turn in yard and get one of the those big steel cans they ship truck engines in and.....

  9. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    I went back to the "lets talk brisket thread" from March and it is a lot more clear now. I understood IT from a Tri tip perspective, you all explained the connective tissue concept as it relates to brisket IT clearly.
  10. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    Thank you again for your "rambling" Lance. Believe me when I say It helps. I think I'll follow your PP advice and do 40 pounds weekend prior to and freeze. Then boil in bag morning of. Maybe beans same way, start with smoker and then move to oven. I like that option because it involves me buying a vacuum sealer! I will definitely include slaw, I love slaw on PP.

    Now what were you saying about new smoker? I haven't seen the steel cans you are talking about, but I may take a field trip to the DERMO lot!
  11. hoity toit

    hoity toit Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

  12. sawinredneck

    sawinredneck Meat Mopper

    Yes, thank you for your service, and for doing this! Our troops need our support more now than ever!
    I agree with the above posts about the IT, meats can be finicky! I don't pull a brisket until it's hit 205-208, a little higher than most, but I find it's more tender in that range. Pulled pork has to hit 195, or a hair more, before I'm happy. Different strokes for different folks!
    Good luck, and thank you again!
  13. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    The best place I'm aware of for sealer bags is vacuumsealersunlimited.com  The owner, Lisa B. is a sponsor of the site and has a monthly 10%discount code for members at:


    She also sells sealers.  I've always used her premium bags and we've never had one fail to seal or lose the seal in the freezer and we use at least 200 a year.  She also offers zip top bags which come in handy for stuff you want to use over time.
    I was referring to the big rectangular steel containers that engines and such get packed in to keep them protected until they get installed and which later get used to send the old parts off to get rebuilt or cannabalized.  I was joking a bit but they are pretty stout and there might be some kicking around your DRMO yard you could look at.  I'd occasionally see some laying around in motor pools that weren't on the books.  Since I retired 10 years ago I collect military vehicles and have always bought direct fron the liqidation comtractors who dispose of the surplus vehicles that aren't either picked up by another unit, goverment agency or eligable non-profit organization.  Sometime you'll find those engine cans come out for sale, too.

    I've never seen a smoker made using one but a couple of guys on the east coast military vehicle show and swap meet circuit have one they converted into a grill and firepit combo. 

    There also some drum shaped ones if a UDS is a possibility.

    Here's a couple of links to get your brain cell in gear...




  14. bdskelly

    bdskelly Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I wish I could give 100 points! Great post. Well done! b

  15. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I think it was here, but.... a few years ago someone made a nice walk in smoker out of one of those shipping containers.

    I thought at the time it was a dang good idea. Just connect a fire box, added home heater louvers on the opposite side top as a control vent. Get some rolling bread racks and load up with meat and make it simple to load and unload as well as rearranging the meat while smoking.  

    You wouldn't want to fire it up for just a chicken, but you could feed some Marines with it easily!
  16. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    Thank you again Lance. I will order from Lisa! I did assume you were joking a bit, but I was still curious. My big problem is I am comfortable working with wood, but not metal! However, the pictures do get the wheels turning and it may be something I could talk to someone into helping me with!
  17. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    That sounds amazing! Unfortunately I do not have Hephaestus's skills or tools to pull that off! When I finally settle down I would have to build a cedar smokehouse instead! However, a Gunny I used to work with bought some land in New Mexico and is building a shipping container home. I'll have to pass that idea to him!
  18. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    I appreciate the support and comments. I'm sorry if I'm breaking decorum with how I do quotes or replies. I've never written on a forum before and I appreciate your patience.

    Is there any recommendations on how to do Brisket a day or two out from serving? If I pull off brisket at 170 IT, rest it a few hours wrapped, then put it in fridge would it be ok to put back on smoker at high temp to bring internal up a day or two later for serving?
  19. I would smoke the brisket to an IT of 200 then foil,  wrap in towels then place in a picnic cooler with more towels to fill up the air space and let it rest a couple or three hours.  Refrigerate or freeze til needed.
  20. bauchjw

    bauchjw Master of the Pit

    Thank you! I am trying one more practice run with a brisket in a day or two and will try that!

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