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Cook time for pork butts and shoulders for 160 people

Discussion in 'Pork' started by buckeye smokerz, Oct 9, 2013.

  1. Hi everyone.  Does anyone have any advice for the following or any idea how long of a cook I will be looking towards for 6 butts ~8 lbs each and 3 picnics ~ 8 lbs each?  I have a MB 40 inch extra wide propane smoker.  This will fill 3 racks leaving an inch or two between the pieces.  Is this too much meat?  Will I have temp issues?  I plan on starting the smoker around 5 PM Friday and putting the meat on at 6PM.  Cooking at 225 degrees using a mix of hickory chips and apple wood chunks.  Weather right now calls for low in the mid 40s with no wind.  The party starts at 3:30 this Saturday and I plan on it taking about 18 hours.  Start at 6PM Friday, smoke for 5 hours, then cook until temp is ~200. Hopefully this will be around 12pm Sat.  Take them out, double wrap in foil and put in a preheated cooler (hot water) with blankets.  This should take me down to ~170-180 in 2 hours.  Start pulling and adding finishing sauce at 2:30PM and put in chaffing pans two at a time while leaving the other chaffing pans back in the smoker to keep warm.  Any ideas or issues I should think about?  I am new to the site and have been smoking for about 3 years off and on.  Thanks for any help or insight you may have.
  2. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    A couple things come to mind, based on personal experience with loading up vertical smokers. First, a heavy load will take longer to cook to finished temps, as it reduces thermal convection efficiencies...grate rotations (top to bottom, plus side to side) and a bit higher chamber temp will help to resolve that issue. Suggest you push it closer to 250* instead of 225*. Butts and picnics may look OK for head-space between the grates, until they start shrinking...the foot print gets smaller and the height gets taller...you may have pork jammed-up between the grates before they're done...been there done that. This will cause cool spots where the top of one piece touches the bottom of the piece above it and slows cooking, as well as causes uneven internal temps.

    The rest of your plan should do fine, as long as timing when they come out to rest is right...rest too long and they'll be cooled-off by the time you get them pulled and sauced and into chaffing pans...using heated finishing sauce will help somewhat. But that's the tough part to estimate, especially with a full load in a vertical smoker...you may need to bump temps as well as start a few hours earlier.

  3. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Epic Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I like to plan on 2hrs per pound. But with that large of a load I'd figure a bit more. I'd bet you'll be closer to 20 hours. I'd also run the smoker hotter. I have been running my butts at 265* and have found that they turn out just as good as those I used to do at 225*. Keep in mind that you'll have a hard time getting the smoker back to temp placing that much meat in at once. So I'd start the smoker about 30* higher than you want it. Also allow a good 45min to a hour to rest wrapped in foil prior to pulling. Good luck and show off your Q.
  4. Forluvofsmoke and Dirtsailor,

    Thanks so much for the all the advice.  I greatly appreciate the specifics and well thought out replies.  I will take your advice to heart.  I plane on taking some good Q pics and uploading when I can.  Wish me luck.  Thanks again!!
  5. rhinoguy

    rhinoguy Fire Starter

    I was in  a similar situation a few months ago and this forum really came through.  I cooked most of my meat before hand, froze it, and reheated it using simmering water.   I used regular 1 gal zip locks to freeze and reheat.  I was a little worried about the zip locks melting to the bottom of the boiling water pot so I sank a couple rubber pot holders in the boiling water before adding the frozen zip locks.  Worked out great.

    Thread is here.  http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/136712/pulled-pork-for-200/20
  6. RhinoGuy,

    Thanks for the advice.  I totally thought about doing exactly what you described.  I usually do that when I smoke a shoulder for the family and freeze the leftovers.  This time I wanted to get people into the bbq.  See how it is done and get them all inspired to want to do the same!!  I know I am taking on a big task.  I have been making rubs and sauces for a few days and getting everything ready.  Going to be a campout under the stars Friday night with the sweet smell of Q smoke wafting around the tent!!  Come Friday morning things should be looking good.  Thanks again.
  7. spoolinaz

    spoolinaz Meat Mopper

    When I did my big cook for work, I used 70lbs of butt in my MBXL. The temps stayed way down for a long time. That much cold meat sucks the temps right out. If you don't rotate the meat, you will have them get done in stages, which was just fine with me. Check out my thread here... http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/129465/need-advice-for-smoke-and-reheat-after-3-days-pp

    It's a big load for the smoker, but it will chug it's way through it. Give yourself plenty of time, and don't panic! Good luck!