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Help with Pulled Pork for a crowd - First "dry" run, updated with QVIEW

post #1 of 35
Thread Starter 

Hi all - for years our church has done a Christmastime progressive dinner.  This summer we're trying a progressive BBQ!  So I've gotten myself voluntarily roped into sorting out the meat portion.  My idea is to smoke up a mess of pulled pork and distribute in heavy foil reheat trays to the homes that will be hosting the entree stop, exactly how many TBD.

 

My questions have to do with making it for a crowd and making them ahead of time.  I planned to buy the Costco butt double-packs which are 2 butts typically around 9 lbs per butt.  I've made several single large butts with great success so I'm OK on the general concepts of pulled pork.  (My REAL challenge will be keeping the heat in check with SoFlaQuer's amazing finishing sauce!  I tend to add LOTS of red pepper flakes. biggrin.gif ) 

 

  1. How much pre-cook meat weight should I count on per person?  I've never weighed my butts post-smoke so I'm not sure how much weight they lose over the smoke time.
  2. On my WSM 22" how much meat can I fit per smoke?  If we have a large enough group, I have no problem doing it over 2 days if necessary.  The dinner will be on a Saturday so planned to smoke that Thursday and/or Friday before.
  3. Since I've got multiple butts to do, how will that affect my smoker's temp and therefore total smoke time?  Will I be better off cutting the butts in half -- both for shorter smoke time and fitting them better -- or just leave as is?
  4. Do I want my smoker to run any hotter than normal (~225F) to compensate for all that extra meat?  Should I add more wood than usual?
  5. After the smoke, should I first pull/finish sauce them and THEN stow them in the fridge?  Or put them whole in the fridge and THEN pull/sauce them the day of the dinner?
  6. What's the reheat time/temp for a sealed foil banquet tray with, say, 7-8 lbs of cold pulled pork?  I was thinking 2 hours at 350F?

 

I can't think of anything else pertinent, did I miss something?  Any other words of wisdom/warning I should heed?  Food safety is my number one concern as I don't want to sicken half our church!!  wife.gif

 

Thanks in advance, experts!!  Appreciate the help.

 

Tom

post #2 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob2000 View Post

Hi all - for years our church has done a Christmastime progressive dinner.  This summer we're trying a progressive BBQ!  So I've gotten myself voluntarily roped into sorting out the meat portion.  My idea is to smoke up a mess of pulled pork and distribute in heavy foil reheat trays to the homes that will be hosting the entree stop, exactly how many TBD.

 

My questions have to do with making it for a crowd and making them ahead of time.  I planned to buy the Costco butt double-packs which are 2 butts typically around 9 lbs per butt.  I've made several single large butts with great success so I'm OK on the general concepts of pulled pork.  (My REAL challenge will be keeping the heat in check with SoFlaQuer's amazing finishing sauce!  I tend to add LOTS of red pepper flakes. biggrin.gif ) 

 

  1. How much pre-cook meat weight should I count on per person?  I've never weighed my butts post-smoke so I'm not sure how much weight they lose over the smoke time.
  1. On my WSM 22" how much meat can I fit per smoke?  If we have a large enough group, I have no problem doing it over 2 days if necessary.  The dinner will be on a Saturday so planned to smoke that Thursday and/or Friday before.
  2. Since I've got multiple butts to do, how will that affect my smoker's temp and therefore total smoke time?  Will I be better off cutting the butts in half -- both for shorter smoke time and fitting them better -- or just leave as is?
  3. Do I want my smoker to run any hotter than normal (~225F) to compensate for all that extra meat?  Should I add more wood than usual?
  4. After the smoke, should I first pull/finish sauce them and THEN stow them in the fridge?  Or put them whole in the fridge and THEN pull/sauce them the day of the dinner?
  5. What's the reheat time/temp for a sealed foil banquet tray with, say, 7-8 lbs of cold pulled pork?  I was thinking 2 hours at 350F?

 

I can't think of anything else pertinent, did I miss something?  Any other words of wisdom/warning I should heed?  Food safety is my number one concern as I don't want to sicken half our church!!  wife.gif

 

Thanks in advance, experts!!  Appreciate the help.

 

Tom

1. I figure a 1/3lb (finished weight) per person when serving with other stuff. I'd assume about 40% loss in weight.

 

2. The temps going to drop a bunch so I'd hit 325-350 then put them on. I don't like cutting the butts in half, but some do for the reasons you mention. With that said the initial thermal mass will still be the same.

 

3. I smoke my butts at 265* all the time now.

 

(not sure why the numbering in the quote changed!) I didn't answer on the the WSM question.

 

4. Pull, put on finish sauce then fridge.

 

5. At 300* figure about an hour, hour and a half.

post #3 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob2000 View Post
  1. On my WSM 22" how much meat can I fit per smoke?  If we have a large enough group, I have no problem doing it over 2 days if necessary.  The dinner will be on a Saturday so planned to smoke that Thursday and/or Friday before.
  2. Since I've got multiple butts to do, how will that affect my smoker's temp and therefore total smoke time?  Will I be better off cutting the butts in half -- both for shorter smoke time and fitting them better -- or just leave as is?
  3. Do I want my smoker to run any hotter than normal (~225F) to compensate for all that extra meat?  Should I add more wood than usual?

 

I can't think of anything else pertinent, did I miss something?  Any other words of wisdom/warning I should heed?  Food safety is my number one concern as I don't want to sicken half our church!!  wife.gif

 

Thanks in advance, experts!!  Appreciate the help.

 

Tom

 

1. That 22" WSM can handle a lot of meat. I have an 18" WSM and have easily done four 9 pound butts at the same time. With the 22" you should be able to get at least 6 or 8.

2. Run it up to 300 and when the meat goes on, it'll settle back down to 250. Also, bring the meat up to temp, don't bring them right out of the fridge. You said you've done lots of butts before so that may be something you already know.

3. The WSM is a tank, there will be no need to add more wood. You will need to adjust your vents a little in order to bring the heat up. The added meat will require you to bring more fire to that party. 439.gif

post #4 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by va_connoisseur View Post

 

1. That 22" WSM can handle a lot of meat. I have an 18" WSM and have easily done four 9 pound butts at the same time. With the 22" you should be able to get at least 6 or 8.

2. Run it up to 300 and when the meat goes on, it'll settle back down to 250. Also, bring the meat up to temp, don't bring them right out of the fridge. You said you've done lots of butts before so that may be something you already know.

3. The WSM is a tank, there will be no need to add more wood. You will need to adjust your vents a little in order to bring the heat up. The added meat will require you to bring more fire to that party. 439.gif

 

I'll disagree with part of # 2 don't let them sit out and get up to room temp then put them in the smoker once they get above 41 degrees your cutting into the 40-140 Food Safety times

post #5 of 35

I agree with Piney. Actually you will see a noticeably better Smoke ring when placed in the Smoker right out of the Fridge.

 

I've tried the ' let it get room temp.' and IMHO the ring was less prevalent . The Bark is always good and flavor premeates the meat to the bone .

 

Have fun and . . .

post #6 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post

1. I figure a 1/3lb (finished weight) per person when serving with other stuff. I'd assume about 40% loss in weight.

 

 

Hey sailor thanks for the reply.  Holy cow, 40% from raw??  That's a LOT more than I figured based on past smokes I've done.  I'll have to do some test runs before the dinner.  Oh darn, lots of PP to eat!

post #7 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by Pineywoods View Post

 

I'll disagree with part of # 2 don't let them sit out and get up to room temp then put them in the smoker once they get above 41 degrees your cutting into the 40-140 Food Safety times

 

Yeah, I generally take the meat out of the fridge, prep and rub and then throw it on the smoker once the surface gets moist so the rub sticks.

post #8 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob2000 View Post

 

Yeah, I generally take the meat out of the fridge, prep and rub and then throw it on the smoker once the surface gets moist so the rub sticks.

 



I stand corrected. That's why I come to this forum. The learning never stops. yahoo.gif

post #9 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob2000 View Post

 

Hey sailor thanks for the reply.  Holy cow, 40% from raw??  That's a LOT more than I figured based on past smokes I've done.  I'll have to do some test runs before the dinner.  Oh darn, lots of PP to eat!

When smoking for large groups I use that figure just to be safe. It's better to have more than not enough. That also figures in for some taking more than others. If you're doing the serving you can control the amounts better. I too agree with not letting the meat warm up to room temp. That is A-Okay for beef but not for pork or poultry. Food safety wise that's a good method for getting sick. So I would still get the temp of the WSM up to 320*-325* put the meat on. The temp will drop down with the mass of cold meat. My mini-wsm drops sometimes below 200* from 325* when I load it up (a whole chicken is loading it up!!!!).

post #10 of 35
Thread Starter 

Thanks everyone (as always!!) for the very helpful input!

 

I assume if I've got multiple roasts crowded around on the grate should I rearrange them some during the smoke to compensate for any hot/cold spots?  I use a large foil banquet pan for a water pan when I smoke, and for that reason, the edges of my cooking grate obviously tend to run a little hotter.

post #11 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob2000 View Post

Thanks everyone (as always!!) for the very helpful input!

 

I assume if I've got multiple roasts crowded around on the grate should I rearrange them some during the smoke to compensate for any hot/cold spots?  I use a large foil banquet pan for a water pan when I smoke, and for that reason, the edges of my cooking grate obviously tend to run a little hotter.

I wouldn't really worry about it too much. Have you thought about filling the pan with sand instead of water? I prefer a dry smoke chamber. You'll probably find that the temps even out better. Or don't put the pan in at all. The more you open and close the smoker the longer the butts are going to take. I don't spritz either, or wrap in foil, just the style I prefer.

post #12 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post

I wouldn't really worry about it too much. Have you thought about filling the pan with sand instead of water? I prefer a dry smoke chamber. You'll probably find that the temps even out better. Or don't put the pan in at all. The more you open and close the smoker the longer the butts are going to take. I don't spritz either, or wrap in foil, just the style I prefer.

 

Yeah I've been reading the dry smoke threads and may give it try.  I'd have to do trail runs but I have time, our big BBQ dinner isn't until August.  If you don't have ANYTHING between the heat and the meat, do they still get done evenly?  I mean, it seems that the outside would get dried out before the inside gets to the desired finish temp.  I spritz, and don't wrap.

 

Regarding opening the smoker, I've actually found exactly the opposite effect to be the case. When I open the lid it really feeds the coals with fresh air and my temps actually go UP.  It does that even when I have all the bottom vents closed.  Sometimes my temps don't even drop back where I want them but stay elevated long after I've closed the lid again.

post #13 of 35
Thread Starter 

OK so I decided since I'm thinking about it, may as well actually try smoking some to see how it comes out.  I also wanted to get an idea about shrinkage (not the "swimming" kind) to better determine how many butts I'll ultimately need for our BBQ.

 

First time without training wheels (i.e. a proper water pan).  Following Craig's great thread about using his WSM, I invested about $5 in a terra cotta planter base/bowl at Lowe's to place into the stock WSM water pan.  I've never used the one that came with my WSM, I've always used a big foil catering tray as I didn't want to spend the time cleaning it after every smoke.  I forgot how much of the diameter this covers, basically the entire thing so my concern about hotspots isn't really warranted.

 

Two Costco picnics, total 16 lbs.  After lovingly slathering, rubbing, caressing, etc here they are before going in the WSM...

 

 

I cheated and lifted the lid to get a quick pic of them after about 30 minutes on the smoke...  I'm not sure I could fit another 2 roasts on there at the same time.  I assume you want to have at least some space between them for more even heating and exposure to the smoke?

 

And this is at the 4-hour temp check.  One on the left was 145F and the one on the right was 151F so I'm safe.  yahoo.gif

 

 

 

I usually don't foil while on the WSM and sometimes spritz, but I'm skipping it this time to go dry all the way.

 

My neighbors will be getting a NICE surprise tomorrow!!

 

Tom

post #14 of 35

Looks great Tom. i don't see where you have a problem. How much Weight did they loose?

Happy smoken.

David

post #15 of 35

They look FANTASTIC...nothing more to say

post #16 of 35

That's looking good so far, Tom!  Keep us posted...

 

Red

post #17 of 35
Thread Starter 

We're 9.5 hours in and I'm having to take it off the WSM and into the oven as we're just getting some rain and chilly weather here, and my smoker temps aren't very steady.  I've got some pretty low dips.

 

They're already looking good enough to eat!  One's at 174F and the other's at 183F.  I'm liking the bark on that dry smoke!  biggrin.gif

 

post #18 of 35

Those look great!  Nice bark!  Won't be long now...

 

Red

post #19 of 35
Quote:
Originally Posted by teebob2000 View Post

 

Yeah I've been reading the dry smoke threads and may give it try.  I'd have to do trail runs but I have time, our big BBQ dinner isn't until August.  If you don't have ANYTHING between the heat and the meat, do they still get done evenly?  I mean, it seems that the outside would get dried out before the inside gets to the desired finish temp.  I spritz, and don't wrap.

 

Regarding opening the smoker, I've actually found exactly the opposite effect to be the case. When I open the lid it really feeds the coals with fresh air and my temps actually go UP.  It does that even when I have all the bottom vents closed.  Sometimes my temps don't even drop back where I want them but stay elevated long after I've closed the lid again.

Butts are looking good!

 

Yes with a charcoal smoker the Every time you open it up you get the heat spikes. With a propane smoker you get temperature drops. Either way opening the smoker leads to uneven cooking temps

 

The ceramic diffuser works great. wrap it all in foil for easier cleaning.

 

Back to weight loss. Weigh the meat after you pull it, not while it's still in the full roast. Once the bones gone and the excess fat is removed your going to be pretty close to 40%-50% the original weight.

post #20 of 35
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by dirtsailor2003 View Post

Back to weight loss. Weigh the meat after you pull it, not while it's still in the full roast. Once the bones gone and the excess fat is removed your going to be pretty close to 40%-50% the original weight.

 

When you're right, you're right, sailor!  16 lbs pre-smoke, 8.5 lbs post-pull.  Wow that's a lot of mass.

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