HELP!!!! Catering My Own Wedding this Weekend

Discussion in 'Pork' started by mountaineer79, Jun 15, 2011.

  1. I've been cooking for months and vacuum sealing and freezing everything.  I've cooked 5 pork shoulders (total 37 lb before cooking) and 10 chickens (about 5 lb each before cooking  ).  There are 110 confirmed guests with a possibility of 130.  This does not include small children, but there won't be too many of them.  Do I have enough meat?  If not, how many chickens do I need to cook to make up the difference? 

    My other dilemma is reheating the meat.  I've got a a two burner propane stove and a single burner butane stove.  My plan is to have a good friend boil the vacuum bags to reheat the meat in 3 stock pots, and then dump the hot meat into catering pans.  How long do I need to boil/simmer the bags?  The meat will be thawed and approaching room temp. by the time it hits the pots.

    Here are my calcs.  Let me know if I need to change things.

    pork:  37 lb x 50% yield = 18.5 lb x 3 servings/lb = 55 servings

    chicken:  50 lb x 50% yield = 25 lb x 3 servings/lb = 75 servings

    Total = 130 servings

    I am fairly experienced with bbqing, but I'm not a not even close to professional, and I've never cooked for more than 20-30 people at a time.  Any help is greatly appreciated.  I probably should've posted this months ago!!


  2. rbranstner

    rbranstner Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Boy when it comes to figuring out how much food you need for a crowed that big I am in the same boat as you are. I'll bump this up a bit and hopefully someone who is comfortable answering this will chime in soon. Good luck.
  3. arnie

    arnie Smoking Fanatic

    Chris, when it comes to group size I was in the same boat as you until last weekend. I just catered a wedding for a close friend’s daughter. They requested brisket and fried catfish filets for 100. I figured 2 servings per pound and came out about right.

    I smoked and shredded the brisket a day ahead. Three hours before serving I put the brisket in crock pots with roughly a cup of beef broth in each one (I’d use AJ for pork). I started frying the catfish filets three hours before serving and held it in roasters. Everything was ready15 minutes before the wedding started so I was able to enjoy the wedding with the rest of the guests



  4. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Catering your own wedding is gonna be rough---That's a lot of work!!!

    I guess the Best Man can stand in for you at the alter, while you finish prepping the food for the reception, but you better get someone else to clean up after, during your Honeymoon---You wouldn't want to have to get someone to take your place there too!!!

    Just wouldn't be proper !


    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  5. shooter1

    shooter1 Smoking Fanatic

    Wow, Chris as if getting married wasn't stressful enough, your doing the cooking too. I think your calcs are pretty accurate. I like to make more than is needed but I always make way to much. I think you have a good plan on re-heating and serving. As far as time, not sure, I would go by temp to make sure everything is safe. Good luck and would love to see some pics when its all over.
  6. Bear,

    I guess I'm not technically catering the wedding, just preparing the food.   Stand-in for the ceremony.  .  . why didn't I think about that?!  I'll have to run it by the bride. 


    It seemed like a good idea to cook the food 6 months ago, when we decided we were only inviting immediate family.  Then somehow it turned into 130 ppl.  I enjoy smoking a lot, but I think I'll put the smoker away for a month or so after this weekend.
  7. Shooter,

    Any tips on checking temp on the vacuum bags without piercing them which would allow water to enter them if I have to resubmerge?  Wouldn't the meat be safe even if served at room temp., since it's already been cooked to a safe temp in the req'd amount of time and then frozen and thawed in a refrigerator? 

    Thanks again
  8. calculus

    calculus Newbie

    When I have taken vacuum sealed bags from the freezer and put them in boiling water, the center is still cold after 10 minutes. Since you say these will be thawed, I would say that 10-12 minutes would be good for 2-3 pounds. As long as you are sure they are thawed, and the bags are not too pregnant in the middle, 10 will do it. They do heat well in the bags in a microwave too. I do not pierce the bags. The are the Foodsaver bags. It might be easy to borrow a microwave, give the bags a minute in there then throw in the water.
  9. Why would anyone want to get married if they could be cooking BBQ   [​IMG]
  10. shooter1

    shooter1 Smoking Fanatic

    Good question. I don't think you have to worry about checking temps in the bag, just make sure the meat is up to temp in the serving pans. Not sure about the meat being safe served at room temp. I just know that when reheating comercially packaged food there are warning labels saying to make sure the food comes up to a certain temp rather than just cooking by time. Maybe someone with more knowledge than I will come along and chime in. You just don't want anybody getting sick at such an important event like this. You have enough to worry about already.

  11. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    That is funny [​IMG]......................but just not right.
  12. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Here is some advice from an old caterer.

    First - Run like Hell! There is no way you are going to do both without loosing your sanity!!!

    I need to see if I can understand what your thought process is. 
    • Did you send out food cards to see which item they wanted?  If not you really need to plan on serving 80-90 the pork and some chicken at a minimum. 10% will only eat the chicken on average. As a caterer you would never get away with running out of one item at a wedding and you kind of need to think along those lines.
    • Who is serving - Do not allow self service or you will be out of food at guest 50. Someone has to portion each plate of meat at a minimum. You can let them self serve the sides if you have enough food to cover yourself 
    • Are you serving a plate or a sandwich? Plates usually average 6-8 oz Sandwich 3-5 oz
    • When you reheat - DO NOT BOIL - heat is hot water and figure on 25-30 min per bag and dont put more than 2 bags per pot or you can almost double the heating time. 
    • Keep your hot food hot - that means above 140* to meat health safety standards. You don't need to start your married life with a lawsuit because someone got sick on your food.
    That is all I can think of right now - I have to run out to a meeting but will check back later
  13. thebarbequeen

    thebarbequeen Smoking Fanatic

    I would suggest you PM Scarbelly and bbally. I would trust their advice 100%.  I've fed around 100, but not with the pressure you're under.  Good luck with your food, and best wishes for a great, fun wedding and all that!  [​IMG]  so, of course right as I'm posting, Scarbelly appears!  I knew he'd be along to help!
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  14. Thanks for all the good info.  I guess I shouldn't have put "catering" in the title.  I'm not technically catering, just heating up meat that I've already cooked.  We have pretty laid back family and friends, so no one will care if I run out of pork.  We are serving sandwiches with small slider buns, so that will hopefully keep the portions down (at least for the 1st time through the line).  I'd like to cook another shoulder or two, but I don't have the time for one with all the other prep work needed down on the parents' farm.  I think I will make 6 more chickens and that will be it. 

    I'm not sure why I can't boil or at least simmer the meat in the Food Saver bags.  I've done it before and have read about many doing it successfully on this forum.
  15. motochef

    motochef Newbie


     I have done my fair share of large events and I can tell you that you may want to have another 15-20 servings of meat for seconds. I'm my experience I have counted about 4 servings per pound, If you have big eaters you may be on target with 1/3 pound. Some things that may help you with portion control would be using 8" plates and small burger buns like Wonder bread size. I have had people in the line grab 2 plates and fill one with just pulled pork! No consideration for the other guests. If you have aluminum pans do a chafing set up with a water pan on the bottom and your product in the top pan with a lid.  I package and freeze right in the hotel pans. You can reheat a full size over 2 burners on a stove. and load pans (without the water pans) straight into the oven. I find that 10 lbs of Pork @ 300 deg will come up to temp in about an hour/ hour and a half. If your doing the boil & bag get a larger pot the larger the better. Rent a propane burner with a 60 qt pot (corn boil rig) you will need to have a large amount to allow for recovery of the boil. Thaw your product in the fridge a few days before or fast thaw with a small fan on the counter. This will thaw your stuff in like an hour. Try it with a package you will be amazed out fast it thaws.  DON'T SKIMP ON THE FOOD SAFETY! Get it to 160 and hold at 140. Good luck with your event! Once you get this done a party for 50 will be a walk in the park. I have had people that have done their own food for a large event and would  hire me to grill. At the event they would come to me and say "We should have just had you do it all! " Its a lot of work!!
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2011
  16. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    You can simmer but dont boil - the bags are not rated to be boiled per the folks at Foodsaver.  If you don't have large Croc pots or roasters, you can get throw away chafing dishes at party stores. They can be used for both hot and cold. Be sure to keep anything with eggs, mayo chilled to be safe
  17. motochef

    motochef Newbie

    I use food saver bag for Sous Vide and they work fine. Let us know how it turns out.!! If you can thaw they will heat much faster!
  18. So are you busy Saturday???? 

    Would it be possible to heat some of the meat by simmering up to an hour ahead of time and put the bags together in a cooler?  Would it be better to just go ahead and put them in chafing dishes on sterno?  How long before the meat starts to dry out in one of those dishes?
  19. LOL. That's how mine went. Immediate family turned into 140+. I had to pay for mine, so when 50 bucks a head turn into 140+ people.....[​IMG]  Oh well, it was a great day. Good luck with it and congrats!!!
  20. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    All I can say is "Damn!" I guess if you can survive the wedding you shouldn't have any problems with the rest of the relationship! LOL

    ScarBelly has you on the right track shoot him a PM if you have more questions, but he's definately given you some good pointers so far.

    Best of luck!

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