In an effort to avoid the typical burgers and dogs grilling out for our squadrons family day this year, I have nominated myself to prepare pulled pork and smoked chicken for the event. Looking at a head count of about 150 (ish). There will be burgers and dogs as well running on a separate grill, but I do not plan on this being the main meal, more for kids and folks who want them. I have bodies, side dishes and that kind of thing covered.
I have access to a Meadow Creek TS250, which I have never used anything of this size before. My plan is to start the cook the evening before with a serve time of about noon the following day. I'm having trouble finding a "guide" for using this cooker, but from what I have found it can burn wood or charcoal or a combo of both. I try and follow the rule of never trying anything new when cooking for a crowd. So i am planning on a test run next week using the TS250. My goal is to get a basic understanding of how much fuel I will need and how much to add to hold temp. The test cook will be a couple of shoulders and some chickens. I assume when I load this thing up on the actual day, cook times will be longer so i plan on starting early with a lot of leeway, then hold the shoulders in marine coolers till ready to serve. So, my main questions:
1. Fuel, should I use charcoal only with woodchips for smoke? Charcoal with logs added to maintain temp and smoke? What kind of soot issues can I expect?
2. Wrap the shoulders to push through stall or let them cook all they through? This is more of a logistics issue i suppose, my main concern is that the shoulders would take 16 hours to fully cook, which Im fine with, I just don't know a good starting point.
3. As for the chicken, I'm planning on 3 hours for cook time. Do i do halfs then qtr when done or qtr the chix prior to smoke or do thighs? I guess dealers choice there, but any advice would be helpful.
I'm sure many of found themselves in a similar situation with being on the hook for a crowd. Ten folks at my house drinking beer and eating pork from my pit barrel is one thing, cooking a large amount for large crowd is a whole other thing. I feel I have a good handle on what to expect, but I wanted feedback from folks who have been there before to avoid unforseen pitfalls. Thanks for any assistance