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2010 1st Annual Family Reunion: Play-by-Play Q-view - Page 2

post #21 of 34

I'm pretty sure we're related and I did not get my invite to the family reunion....is that a hint?!?!?!

 

Everything looks great, I'm sure it will be much appreciated.  Plus, now you will have more time to enjoy the reunion.

post #22 of 34

Yo forluvofsmoke, 

Your family is really fortunate to have a pitmaster who loves to cook and smoke.  The love you put into the meat is going to blow them away with great tasting food.  Thanks for all the details because your post is very instructional.  Enjoy the reunion, you deserve a good time.

 

 

post #23 of 34

Wow!  What a great and detailed Qview.  I can almost taste the pastrami through my new "scratch-n-taste" computer screen...

 

Looking forward to some final pics of all the Q together.  Great job planning all this out, i'm sure your family will be ranting about this for a long time. 

post #24 of 34

Forluvofsmoke,

I don't know how I missed this over a week ago, but this post is nothing short of AWESOME!

 

I've seen a lot of yours like this too.

 

When it comes to great posts, You Are The Man!

 

 

Thanks,

Bearcarver

post #25 of 34
Thread Starter 


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsB View Post

I'm pretty sure we're related and I did not get my invite to the family reunion....is that a hint?!?!?!

 

Everything looks great, I'm sure it will be much appreciated.  Plus, now you will have more time to enjoy the reunion.


HAH-HAH-HAH!!! I got a kick out of that one! I just wish everyone here could have some samples of everything...it's gonna be a great time! We'll still be cooking some stuff on-site...shorter smokes and grilling/steaming/reheats, etc., but there will be lots of time for visiting too.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by deltadude View Post

Yo forluvofsmoke, 

Your family is really fortunate to have a pitmaster who loves to cook and smoke.  The love you put into the meat is going to blow them away with great tasting food.  Thanks for all the details because your post is very instructional.  Enjoy the reunion, you deserve a good time.

 

 

Thanks Brother, yea I'm pouring the smoke to this event..J/K! Really though, it comes together pretty easy once you look at what you want to be able to accomplish. I just had to realize that the all-nighters would not be a good idea to do on-site...then, I just let it roll so everything I wanted to do would be ready.


 

Quote:
Originally Posted by flyfishjeep View Post

Wow!  What a great and detailed Qview.  I can almost taste the pastrami through my new "scratch-n-taste" computer screen...

 

Looking forward to some final pics of all the Q together.  Great job planning all this out, i'm sure your family will be ranting about this for a long time. 


Thanks, that 'strami does look killer...tastes pretty good, too! Don't worry, I'll be updating this thread with everything I prep before the trip, and the on-site feasts, so there will be more. Did I mention, we're planning 6 meals for this event? Yea, crazy amounts of food for a 2-day weekend gathering.

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bearcarver View Post

Forluvofsmoke,

I don't know how I missed this over a week ago, but this post is nothing short of AWESOME!

 

I've seen a lot of yours like this too.

 

When it comes to great posts, You Are The Man!

 

 

Thanks,

Bearcarver


Thanks Bear, I do like to share all of my new cooking experiences with my second family here on the forums...gotta spread the smoke around when we can! LOL!!!!!!!!

 

 

 

I'll be back in a day or 2...I'm thinking about doing a smaller batch of Red Bell Pepper Chicken Sausage to take with for snackin'...one more day at work, then I'm off for 2 days to do final prep before the trip up to the gathering, so I'll be a busy lil' smoker while I still have the chance! LOL!!!!!!!!

 

 

Thanks all! Stay tuned!

 

Eric

post #26 of 34
Thread Starter 

Sweet Red Chicken Sausage is my final pre-smoke project (I think) for the reunion.

 

 

My original recipe is can be found here: http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/forum/thread/93239/cherry-smoked-sweet-red-chicken-sausage-qview-recipe

 

 

My wife grabbed some chicken thighs while she was out yesterday, and she graciously skinned & de-boned them for me today just before dinner, so they could re-chill before I set out to work my magic with them. I also had a couple lbs of brisket trimmings from back in December, so that was just what the doctor (smoker) ordered.

 

 

Weighing out my mostly lean boneless/skin-less chicken thighs, so I could determine the proper amounts of beef fat, Tender Quick and seasonings to add to the chopped mixture:

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Dead-on @ 5lbs...I like it when measurements are easier to calculate the correct ratios, as my recipe is for 2lbs total meat/fat weight:

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Now that I know my meat weight, I can weigh out my mostly frozen beef fat...just over the 0.75lb mark I was shooting for...it'll be fine:

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The fat is cubed and ready to toss into the food processor to turn it into crumbs while it still has a lot of ice crystals:

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I placed the fat crumbs into a stainless bowl to re-chill in the fridge while I processed the chicken meat...all 5lbs, after cutting into ~1" chunks and chopping...I go with 1.5-1.75lb batches of meat in the food processor, which is a pretty good workout for it, even being a 450 watt motor:

8

 

 

I dumped the entire ~6lbs (with seasonings/cure) into a poly lined cookie sheet and placed more plastic sheets as need to form into a loaf without touching the meat, then worked out the air pockets as well as I could while forming and continuing to add a few more sheets of poly to seal it all up for chilling/curing overnight:

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I just love how the spices show through on the surface...this stuff is so good, I just couldn't resist sharing a nice loaf of it at the reunion:

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So, that makes...OK, what do I have smoked already? Pulled Pork, Sliced Beef Brisket (flat) & Burnt Ends (point), Ancho Chili & Jalepeno Corned Beef Pastrami, and, in the morning, this will be smoked and frozen for the trip as well. That should do...unless I think of something else I want to throw into the mix...HAH-HAH-HAH!!!!!!!

 

The smoke will be in the morning...oh my, it is morning...1:05 am here...busy day today...er, yesterday, but a very good day to be a smoked meats lover with a willingness to share my creations!

 

 

Smoke starts in about 8 more hours...I need to give the TQ a chance to work it's magic anyway.

 

Hope to see ya then!

 

Eric

post #27 of 34
Thread Starter 

8:45 am Mtn Time, and the Smoke Vault 24 is happy with my offering. I'm wet smoking with cherry @ ~200* this time...would have liked to run closer to 150* to start, and then slowly bump temps up to 210* or so to reach finished I/T, but this is almost 6lbs, which will take quite a bit longer than the 2-3lb chubs I've smoked in the past. Also, I'm still getting the rest of my cooking gear checked out and ready for the upcoming weekend trip, so I don't want to be constantly checking and tweeking the smoker.

 

Oh, I mixed the meat by hand this time, just to save the clean-up and having to measure and weigh-out the smaller separate 2lb batches I need for the Kitchenaid stand mixer. Not to mention, my hands are getting pretty soggy from all the dish soap and water from cleaning cooking gear and storage bins for the trip, plus washing between each step while doing the sausage prep...no, I'm not using Palmolive (for softer skin)...LOL!!!!

 

 

The no-grinder, no-stuffer, no-casing prepared sausage is getting happier by the minute...I'll run a shorter smoke on this (probably 60-90 minutes):

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Back to the outdoor kitchen for me. I really need a larger trailer to load all of this stuff into. I'm already starting to decide what items I wanted to bring, that I can probably make due without. My menu items where already based upon as much of my gear/equipment being used for multiple roles, so I had already planned on having to squeeze every bit out everything I brought with. I may not have too much room to cut back, but there won't be quite as many people attending as I originally planned for several months ago. We'll make it all come come together...it's a large family and everyone who's coming will be pitching in with something along the way. Hmm, I'm so accustomed to doing outdoor cooking in solo-mode that I'm still adjusting to the idea of the potluck. I'll get it hammered through my skull before the weekend comes....(as I take a slow, deep breath now).

 

 

I won't be slicing this with the Nesco at home, as this will be for appetizer/sandwiches at the gathering. I will cut the loaf in half for packaging reasons before freezing, so, if you want a peek at the cross-section, I'll get a bit more eye-candy posted before the trip.

 

I decided this morning that this is my final pre-gathering smoke...there will likely be more food than we could possibly eat in 2 days anyway.

 

Back to the kitchen prep!

 

Thanks all!

 

Eric

post #28 of 34
Thread Starter 

I took a quick break while mother nature tries to rain on my parade...er, prep work.

 

3.5 hours into the smoke, and I stabbed my probe for a look at internals...134*...this why I like to do lower & slower with cured meats...no sweating the I/T's...it gets there when it wants to (safely) and I can run low chamber temps to help keep the natural juices inside. The cure seems to help with that as well, so you get double the chances of enjoying a great smoked sausage.

 

Some drippings are starting to hit the water pan as the loaf is beginning to sweat now:

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It's taking on a nice light golden brown color already...that crust and color will develop much more before the finish temp is reached:

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Ah, I see sunshine again! Back to work!

 

Eric

post #29 of 34
Thread Starter 

Just a lil' more drool-view for ya...

 

166* when I took these:

15\

 

 

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I'm going to push this to 170*, pull it to mop off the exterior fat with paper towels, and hit my outdoor fridge before cutting it in half, so it can quick chill for a couple hours. Chamber temps have been pretty steady @ 200*. Oh, just passed the 8-hr mark now.

 

See ya soon!

 

Eric

post #30 of 34

      What a great post.        

 

 

Can't wait for the final picks.

post #31 of 34
Thread Starter 

Thanks werdwolf!

 

I have in my possession the last of my drool-view before the trip to the reunion, so in the name of fair-play, here goes!!!

 

Just out of the Vault...I placed a paper towel-lined cookie sheet over the grate, pulled the grate out and flipped it over on top of the smoker to check for sagging of the meat through the grate...this can be a problem with a regular grate, but the jerky grate does a fine job:

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The grate lifted right off with just a slight resistance as the grate wires released from the loaf...perfect:

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I patted off the surface rendered fat, flipped over and patted the rest off before hitting a 20* fridge for a couple hours to chill:

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The heals even look good enough to eat:

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And, the moment of truth...you just can't go wrong with this stuff...I always get good results with this sausage:

 

(EDIT: ADDED THIS)

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My wife wanted to keep one 1/2 loaf of this in the house...teasingly...we all love this sausage for cold cut sandwiches, or just on a cracker is great...we are just finishing the remains of my last batch of this:

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These are tightly bagged and getting frost-bitten as I type, until the trip on Thursday the 15th.

 

 

That's it for now...back to work for 3 days...then it's road-trip time! Digi-cam and cell-cams will be worn-out when we get back......I'll share.

 

See ya sometime after Sunday the 18th!

 

Until then, I wish you all very many great smokes!!!!!!!!

 

Eric

post #32 of 34
Thread Starter 

Hey all! I finally got around to posting a recap after getting back from the reunion...it's been a busy few days with work right after getting home.

 

I didn't get alot of pics like I planned on...I guess I was having too much fun visiting and cooking for the family. The pics I did get were not great quality, due to my inexperience with the blackberry's camera, but they will still tell a good story.

 

All the pre-smoked goodies I made ahead of time were a huge hit with everyone. The chicken sausage and ancho/jap corned beef pastrami were great cold lunch treats on day one. The pulled pork was more than enough for french bread sammies for Friday's dinner.

 

We had tons of food for the gathering as expected. Here's some breakfast goodies to start the finale...

 

My youngest sister brought a variety of home-made rolls for each breakfast, as I recall:

1

 

I griddled up some french toast over a camp stove...getting down to the remains before I remembered the camera:

2

 

Lil' Sis' pancakes:

3

 

 

Lil' Sis & her Hubbies smoked Venison/Pork Sausage that he grilled up...they had pepper,  garlic and regular recipe sausages...the pepper sausage was superb with a content of 10% by weight of fresh Jalepeno, banana peppers and other peppers ground into the mix...well, actually, it all was great!!!:

4

 

 

A smaller batch of several runs for the day with ABT's...this was a pre-lunch snack which is a combination of 3 different kinds with 1/3 fat cream cheese with turkey bacon, some regular cream cheese/sausage stuffing with turkey bacon, and some with regular bacon:

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My youngest brother's birthday party was on the 16th...here's a little memoir from the back of an on-site customized t-shirt...I told my brother that it was OK if he forgot what the back of his shirt read, because I got pictures of it...he snickered and called me a smart-A$$...heh-heh!:

7

 

 

I did larger pieces of chicken (split breasts and leg quarters) in the smoke vault 24 with cherry smoke for lunch, and grilled the smaller pieces in the Weber kettle...teriyaki marinade for one batch and garlic/herb marinade for another...no pics of the grilled:

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More ABT's and part of the Burnt Ends about to hit the smoke vault:

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A distant picture while the crew was swarming over Saturday night's dinner...red onion blossoms, steam-reheated sliced beef brisket, burnt ends and ABT's from the smoker:

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I still had 9lbs of pork breakfast sausage chubs thawed out after making breakfasts and ABT's, so tossed 'em all into the vault on Saturday evening to hand out to anyone who could take them home for devouring on a later date. The original plan for this was to make breakfast fatties, but I made griddled pork sausage patties instead, with my Lil' Sis wipped out a bunch of scrambled eggs to go with it...so we had a pretty good mix of differently prepared foods, which was really what made it all great...a bit of everything for a taste tempting treat with every meal:

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These pictures probably only represent about 10% of all the great food that we had for the weekend, and the the pic quality isn't that good...you get the idea though.

 

 

The reunion meals didn't all go according to the menu I had planned, but it was very easy to adapt and change things up as needed.

 

The visit with everyone was a great experience for everyone who attended, I'm sure. I spent a bit more time cooking than I wanted too, but still had some time to make my rounds with everyone.

 

A couple of my nephews were interested in getting into smoking more in-depth, and we discussed some things they could start working on to expand their knowledge and skills.

 

One of my brother in-laws sounded very interested in making his own corned beef pastrami...he's fell in love with the Ancho/Jap recipe, so I sent him home with about 8-10 oz of the last I had left in my fridge...he said it would make great sandwiches for work on Monday.

 

Of course, I could not resist mentioning SMF to several who I chatted with about outdoor cooking, as it is where I learned most of what I know today about smoking, and recommended that they drop in and have a look around.

 

 

All in all, this took a bit of time during my days-off work to do smokes ahead of time...but hey, wait a minute...I would have been firing up a smoker anyway, being the die-hard that I am...soooooo, the way I see it is I really didn't invest much extra time to prep for this. Besides, it gave me an excuse to do another pastrami and another sausage batch...LOL!!!!!!!! I felt very satisfied with being able to share all the great smoked meats which we enjoy regularly here at home with the rest of our family...that along with a bit of coaxing with teaser pics via email to get the ball rolling for the gathering gave me a true sense of accomplishment...we've not had a gathering just dedicated to a family reunion...ever...and now, we're planning one for every summer. That's too cool!!!

 

Now that I have my biggest feast under my belt, I can say I'd do it all again in a heart-beat. This was truly a great experience that I'll never forget.

 

 

For anyone with concerns about doing a feed like this: just go with your gut and you'll do just fine. The more pre-smokes you can do ahead of the gathering, the more time you can spend with the family, of course. I wanted some fresh cooked vittles for everyone as well, so I made a compromise to do the on-site cooking. We had tons of fun while a few of us we were cooking too.

 

I missed many pics of side items which were made off-site and on-site as well...it was such a wide variety, and much more than I would have ever imagined having in one place at the same time for a family gathering...a great 2-day feast to share with our family.

 

Next year will be a June gathering for a family reunion along with one of my niece's wedding, so it will probably be a 2-3 day event. No plans are made yet for what we'll all be doing, but it will be a great family event for sure.

 

I can't wait for the next gathering...I think no matter how close they are together, they're never often enough.

 

Keep on smokin' and stay connected with your family, all!

 

Eric

post #33 of 34

sounds like you had a great time! Everything looks good

post #34 of 34
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrsB View Post

sounds like you had a great time! Everything looks good


Thanks, yes it was a hugely enjoyable event. Lots of great food and great people to share the weekend with.

 

I wanted to share the bulk of this event with everyone here so others could get and idea how they could put together a larger family gathering and share their favorite smoked meats with everyone. With a bit of planning and forethought, it can be done while maintaining a normal heart rate and blood pressure...just do your longer smokes ahead of time, and this will allow you to spend more quality time with your family, and you can do some on-site cooking with them as well.

 

All things considered, there isn't anything major that I would change the next time around, except I could cut back on the amount of cooking equipment I brought with, as a few of my siblings who had less travel distance pitched in and brought some gear with as well. The first time around will always bring a learning curve, but there is nothing to prevent you from making changes in plans to keep things going in the right direction. I did a few last minute changes on what I cooked on-site and everything worked out just fine. Just keep an open mind and you'll be able to adapt to make it happen, and accept suggestions and ideas from your family as well.

 

It sure does bring the family closer together when an event like this comes together, and that was the whole idea to begin with.

 

Keep your smokers happy and your family close, my brothers and sisters!

 

 

Eric

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