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New, just a kid, major planning ahead

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

So I was at a friend's grad party the other day and they had it catered by a local BBQ place and of course the food was delicious.  Now I'm a senior this year and I'm looking to my party next year (yes I'm fairly confident I will graduate lol) and I looked into prices for this and it'd cost $800-1k to get it catered.  And so I thought maybe I could get a smoker, practice this summer/fall, and by next June be able to cook passably.  I can cook in a kitchen and I can grill pretty well, but I've never even attempted smoking, mostly for lack of a smoker.  

So the start of many questions:

-Is this just a horrible idea I should abandon and go with grilled hot dogs and brats instead?

-Good resources to read/watch online?

-How much food for ~100 people? 50% brisket 25% pulled pork or ribs 25% chicken (Note: at least the chicken can be prepared other than smoking). Approx $?

-Can food be smoked ahead of time and reheated? How much in advance?

-How much impact would weather have on smoking?

-I found the Smoke Vault 24 to be decently priced, well reviewed (even here), and most say is has a lot of space. Would this be a good smoker to buy?

-Recipes?

More questions I'm sure to come but I guess first and foremost is this feasible?  Thanks all in advance, hopefully I'm not too much of a nuisance.

post #2 of 8
Smithy, welcome to the forum.what you are thinking is very doable.I just did a party for 100 and I cooked pork and brisket. Did 10 butts and 5 briskets. All the meat was gone. Cost for meat was $300. Once you start adding costs of rub, sides, sauce, etc you will a round $600 maybe. I think pork and brisket are your best options. They hold pretty well when done and dont need to be consumed quickly. As far as books and where to learn you already came to the best place HERE. You will find everything you need us8ng search bar on this forum. If you dont find it we will help you out 100%. First thing is you need to get a smoker. Do some research online on different styles. Wood, charcoal, propane, pellet, or electric. Decide on whether you want to tend a fire of set and forget type of cooker. Jump on craigslist too. You can usually find decent deals on there. Good luck.
post #3 of 8
Hi Smithy,

I think what you want to do is totally doable and you will have the pride of having done it yourself rather than just buying it, which anyone can do. My advise is to get an off set barrel smoker and learn to cook with wood rather than electric.

My dad and brother smoked for my wedding 14 years ago (I would have done it myself, but I was busy with other things). They rented a large smoker and did 8 full sized briskets and we had just over 100 people and there wasn't a damn single piece of brisket left over. icon_mad.gif

If you get a good smoker and spend every weekend or every other weekend smoking something you will have some great experience and a feel for cook times and prep amounts when you get to preparing for your own party. The smoker that you will need for this much food won't be cheap though. Best to get a smaller one, big enough for a couple of briskets and a tray of beans or something and hone your skills on that. Then you can can either rent or borrow a larger smoker for your event. Post your location, maybe there's a member here who will loan you a smoker, or help you with the event.

Something like an Oklahoma Joes Longhorn will be a good starting point.

Weather isn't much of an issue. I have smoked in 100+ degree heat, in the snow and the rain. Just takes a little longer in cold weather as the smoker looses heat faster.

Also, start thinking about side items. Find recipies online, make them and then try something a little different next time.

Also read the brisket thread in the beef section. Tons of good info there.

Be careful though, once you start smoking meats, it becomes an obsession and it will be all you can think about.
post #4 of 8

I have the smoke vault 24 and can recommend it for the price.  Very efficient on fuel and easy to maintain temperature.  Not thick gauge metal, but I haven't had troubles maintaining temps in the low 30s during the winter.  I started with a smaller electric smoker and was frustrated by not being able to fit a packer brisket or a full rack of ribs.  The larger smoke vault accommodates both. 

post #5 of 8
Thread Starter 

I didn't even know you could rent a smoker.  That's good to know.  I did look at an offset barrel smoker or even looked into building a vertical drum smoker but from what I read those varieties require more tending.  I was leaning propane because it would seem to require a little less attention.  I'm still working out sides and additional food, but I don't need to worry about that as much because my mom does most of that cooking/prep. I don't really know how big of a smoker I need for this much food.   Should I be looking at something like a Smoke Hollow 44in instead? Or the Master Forge Double Door Smoker (#1 propane on SMF)? I'm just going based on reviews and price.  <$400 is probably the absolute limit. I have a truck that needs parts too lol. Also if I need the space my neighbor has an offset barrel smoke that I could probably borrow if it comes to it. My biggest concern right now is getting the right smoker

post #6 of 8
I think the master forge two door was discontinued?
post #7 of 8

Man, I'm diggin' your enthusiasm to tackle this on your own, but after you factor the expense of the pit (even if renting one), the food, the dinnerware... not to mention all the time it'll take to prep, cook, and serve 100 guests... $8/plate to have your party catered doesn't sound bad at all!  Not at all trying to harsh yer buzz on this endeavor.  Just crunch the numbers and also factor the time it will keep you from your party and go from there...

post #8 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by smithy316 View Post
 

I don't really know how big of a smoker I need for this much food.   ...

 

Also if I need the space my neighbor has an offset barrel smoke that I could probably borrow if it comes to it. My biggest concern right now is getting the right smoker

This is where getting a smaller "patio" sized smoker will benefit you in the long run.

 

This about it, most of the time that you smoke you'll be cooking for maybe a dozen or less people? maybe 20 if you have a really big family. With a quality patio sized smoker you should be able to cook two packer trimmed briskets, and a few racks of ribs or other items. This is where you will hone your craft and learn about cooking times and experiment with rubs and mops and other cooking techniques without having to fire up a commercial sized smoker. 

 

For 100 people with the menu you suggested I would be looking for something that will cook 4 large briskets in the 15-16 lbs range, or 5 smaller ones in the 11-12 lbs range. Probably 5 or 6 8 lbs pork butts,  and maybe 8 to 10 chickens. Go down to the local butcher or meat section in a Wal-Mart and look at the physical size of all of those pieces of meat. Then think about how much square footage of cooking surface you will need to prep that much. 

 

I think even a Lang 48 would be hard pressed to cook that much meat unless you are going to do it over a couple of days and reheat it, which can work--if you know what you are doing. But fresh is always best. ;)

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