Daughters wedding for 200...pulled pork, plan good?

Discussion in 'Catering & Large Group Gatherings' started by jbomx363, Jul 19, 2013.

  1. Daughter wants me to cook pulled pork for her wedding in Sept. Should be approx. 200 people there eating, buffet style.

    There will be jambalaya and white beans, meatballs and other assorted finger foods and such.

    With that said... here is my plan.

    I'm thinking about 100#'s of raw meat, going by the 1/2 #/person model. I think that will be way too much, considering all the other items people will be chowing down on. But I'm okay with that.

    Usually our butts around here are in the 7-8# range. So that's approx. 13 butts. I'm thinking that will take about 16 -17hours or so and hoping that I can fit all on the MB XL smoker. If they don't all fit, I was thinking of doing 3 or 4 the day before and using them as the last resort butts and reheating them in the oven at the wedding hall, maybe adding a finishing sauce to them for moistness.

    When smoking this many, do I need to add extra wood for smoking, more than I would for doing 1 or 2 butts? I'm using applewood and considering a mix of apple and hickory or pecan.

    Will they hold for 4-5 hours in ice chest, wrapped with foil/towels, can I stack them in the ice chest? I have to be there 2 hours before the wedding and am hoping that will be my rest time, but I wouldn't mind getting them done a few hours earlier to be "safe" so I don't show up smelling all smokey. lol.

    My plan is to use a chafing tray or two to keep the meat warm while serving, and have a couple trays already pulled and sitting in the oven at 150* (should it be higher like 180*?) to keep them warm and ready to switch out trays once one is getting to the empty mark. Then once I'm down to the last 2 trays, start pulling 2 more butts and keeping them warm.

    I'll be using squeeze bottles to put 2 different BBQ sauces in for "users choice", one a carolina type and the other, probably KC Masterpiece or Sweet Baby James Q sauce, just for simplicity's sake, plus..I love KC Masterpiece.

    Also considering putting slaw on the side for those that want to use it, but wondering how to keep it on the cool/fresh side in the hot weather.

    And.. for the buns... I like CWB's...but it's a wedding. Trying to decide if CWB's are fine or need something fancier, like Kaiser or maybe Kings Hawaiin buns, or some other choice??

    I've only just started smoking and have a few butts under me, doing some more trial runs before wedding to hopefully get everything smoothed out, nervous as can be right now.

    Comments/suggestions/answers needed please.
  2. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Just me but I would recommend smoking and pulling everything several days in advance and then reheating the day of the wedding. Trust me it will cut down the stress on an already stressful day!

    I always pre-cook my pulled pork for gatherings. I pull it and apply my finishing sauce then into foil pans and the fridge. To reheat put in 200* oven.

    I always use cheap buns, makes the best sandwee.

    If you do go ahead with the cook the day of you can put as many butts in one cooler as you can.
    eight433 likes this.
  3. Thanks DSailor..

    That is an option. I'm going to smoke 2 butts for this Sunday. I'll pull one and put in finishing sauce, cover and put in fridge and leave it until Tuesday. Put in oven at 200*...usually about how long til it heats up and do you stir up the meat while waiting it to heat up?

    I'm still wondering if they even have an oven at the place to do all this. Will not know that info until this weekend too. And that would throw a wrench in the plans.
  4. dirtsailor2003

    dirtsailor2003 Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    It takes about a hour hour and thirty or so. I use foil pans that are about 2"-3" deep like a chaffing pan. Stir about every 15 minutes. Once reheated you can hold in the pans in a cooler too .
  5. pgsmoker64

    pgsmoker64 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Case is right on the money.  Additionally, with all the other food there I would figure on 1/3# per person.  Everyone loves leftovers, but you could be looking for extra freezers with that much meat!

    Be careful with your finishing sauce...if there is vinegar (as there is in most good finishing sauces) you might want to wait until you have reheated the pork to add it.  Sometimes the acid in the sauce can cause the meat to get a little mushy.

    Good luck and congrats!

  6. sqwib

    sqwib Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  7. Wow... awesome information. SQWIB and thanks to all, I'm feeling a bit better about not ruining her day.

    Looks like I'm going to be begging people to keep some pulled pork in their fridges and not tasting it beforehand! [​IMG]
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  8. s2k9k

    s2k9k AMNPS Test Group

  9. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    How much jambalaya you making, that will definately impact how much meat you need. You cooking it too?
  10. I'm not making the jambalaya...it's going to be a lot though. Probably, at least a 18-20 gallon pot full, if not bigger.

    There are a lot of big eaters...but they drink too, so don't know how much the alky will affect them.
  11. foamheart

    foamheart Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    LOL.... you always grab a drink and then get the food, want to be sure you get some of all of it before it it dissappears...... I must be getting old, it used to be stake a territory at the cash bar and scope out chicks....LOL

    Just another thought, we did smoked chicken for the neighbor ladies daughter's rehearsal dinner. We cooked three times what we needed and then made smoked chicken salad baby sandwichs for the wedding reception. They were gone first thing. Just another thought and you can make them in advance.

    Well of course there are alot of big eaters its Livingston Parish! J/K <chuckles>
    Last edited: Jul 19, 2013
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    363, evening.....  I have had parties that lasted 24 hours....  (when I was younger)..... the more they drank, the more they ate......  Heck they ate for 16 hours seems like....  Food is a BIG deal and great food is a BIGGER DEAL......    If folks hang around forever, you know they had a good time and will talk about it for years....  You need to go down in history as the BEST party provider Denham Springs has ever heard of.....

    Check out Eric's thread about his daughters wedding.....  It is an AWESOME thread....  It will provide you with some very good insight....

  13. There are a few logistical issues I perceive, first me repeat back what I understand:

    13 butts are estimated to be pulled and ready for service 2-hours prior to the event
    200 people being served
    2-squeeze bottles of sauce

    Question 1) How much labor do you have to pull and serve 13 pork butts? Even with bear claws that is a couple of hours of serious pork pullin'...plus...

    Question 2) Do you have enough serving capability in both chafing/serving dishes and ability to monitor and refresh the chafers for a big rush? Wedding dinners generally have a scheduled format and a start time where a line forms and guests looking for their food in a scheduled amount of time--and there is limited time in the venue. The spike drops off, there is a toast, people start dancing, etc. The point is you are likely going to need to have a lot of food to replenish in a short period of time.

    Question 3) Do you have enough hot-holding capability to maintain proper temp >140 for four hours? The last thing you want is a bunch of sick family.

    Question 4) 2 bottles of squeeze sauce for 200? Probably a little light.

    That's a first glance, hope this helps...PM me if you want a ask a few more questions and don't want to drag it out on the thread.
  14. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    OOOOOOOHHHHHH this is a good one. So good it made me get on my PC to respond!!!! [​IMG]

    OK I also see a few things that jump out at me:

    First: This is your daughters wedding. You have already provided half the reason everyone is there for. No need to kill yourself with last minute cooking. Do the cook ahead and get someone you trust to reheat it for you based on your instructions. Enjoy the day with your family. I fully understand you want to do everything you can to make your daughter happy. I have 2 that are hopefully years away from weddings, but I would do anything for them as well. You need to be able to enjoy the day as well and a have an Adult Beverage or two and relax!!!!

    Second: As mentioned Food Safety will be a very important thing for the entire event. Not just your food, but everyone elses as well.This is where the Catering Chef comes out...... Check your venue very carefully. Look at ovens, refrigerators and power capabilities, even look at the space you have to work in for prep. I know around here there are several rental companies and you can rent hot boxes to keep large amounts of food hot. The cooler method works, but I still rather have a little more reliable method for 200 people..... They may also have cafers and inserts you can rent. They look like what SQWIB has in his pictures. You can get fancy ones with lids and solid sides or you can get the ones that are wire framed. I have some for home that are and from plywood and they work great. I can take them apart and stack them for later use when needed. They are easy to make if you have a few tools and time. Keep the hot food hot (>140) and the cold food cold (<40). If you go out of that range you have under 4 hours of usable time. We use HACCP and one of the temperature monitoring guidelines we have is time verse temperature. You mentioned the heat and coleslaw. By that I am assuming you are outside. So that would tell me that your time frame of usable out of temperature range on cold food is much shorter, like maybe 30-45 minutes if you are using a traditional mayo based coleslaw. I did a Sweet Sixteen for one of my daughters a few months back and made a vinaigrette based dressing for the slaw and tossed it just before service. It went over very well and due to the acid content you almost eliminate your food poisoning concerns with that item.


    Amount of PP and execution. You sound to be in a good range on amounts. As mentioned earlier, how many people do you have helping? I have never used the smoker you are using, but you want to make sure you have a bit of space between each butt. This way you will get good smoke penetration over the entire cut of meat.This will also help with temp control. One of the biggest things I see professionals who are not familiar with Catering/Banquets make is poor time management. They think I can do all of this the last minute, I want fresh out of the oven to the plate quality. Well you are feeding a lot of people at one shot. It takes time and labor to execute things. I have a staff of 25 cooks and we started prepping 6 days before a group of 2500 showed up. We do this everyday and we still were running crazy to execute some of the events. So get help and plan on doing things ahead. Yes, you can do it alone, but it is YOUR daughters wedding. You need to be with her, not worrying about if the pork was pulled!!! [​IMG]

    Some folks have already given you some great info. No need to cover them again.......

    I will be happy to help in any way I can. Just ask away!!!
  15. Thanks for the continued replies! I'm soaking it all in.

    I cooked 2 butts a couple of weeks ago and pulled them. I then put in meat trays, covered and put in fridge.

    1 tray I used the next day and reheated in the oven at 225 to get it to 140 and held it there for 20 minutes. It tended to dry out a bit in the oven and so I used a finishing sauce to juice it up a little. I may not have put enough sauce on it as it was still slightly dry.

    The other tray I used after 2 days in the fridge. I again warmed in oven and it was even drier. I ended up putting too much sauce in it and it was a tad too vinegary. I warmed up some more in the microwave with a little bit of water and it came out a bit better. However, I can't be warming a ton of meat up in a microwave.

    So with that... I'm still wondering if I should cook a day or 2 ahead of time.... I'm hoping ya'll will school me on keeping the PP moist when warming it up!

    If not, I'll be trying to cook and have it ready 4 hours ahead of the wedding, pulling some of it when I get there and keeping it warm in the ovens and then pulling a few as the meat in the oven diminishes.

    In reply to seapit:

    That's my biggest concern, time management. I'm hoping with the help I have, I won't even need to be around the food except initially to get things started, then go enjoy myself. However, I always worry if things are "right, good, okay", so I'll still have that in the back of my mind.

    I'm going to wait for some replies and do more reading to see what I need to do to get the reheating process done better and smoke a couple more butts soon to try and get it right. I think I'm going to measure out exactly a pound of PP and measure how much finishing sauce is needed to get it "just right" so I have a ballpark figure to work with. I know each butt is different, etc. but I need a start or a better way to figure this out.
  16. jarjarchef

    jarjarchef Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Reheating is easy. Here is how i would do it if it was me. There are other ways, this is just mine...

    Cook the butts days in advance to 195 (yes it will pull at 195, not to tender to where it falls apart). Allow to rest for about an hour with some apple juice concentrate, beer and rub. After it has rested and and cooled a bit I would loosely pull the pork and separate the juices in the bottom of the pan to save for the finishing sauce. Portion the pulled pork into 1 gallon freezer zip lock bags, no more then 5# in a bag. This will allow you to flatten it and cool very quickly in the freezer, cooler with ice or even the fridge. You want to go from 140 to below 40 in under 4 hrs.

    Reheating: quick is in a saute pan with some finishing sauce and maybe a little water to replace what is lost to steam. For larger amounts I would use a 2" pan with about 10# -12# of pork and a couple cups of your finishing sauce. Wrap with plastic then foil and into an oven at 350. No the plastic will not melt, I do it all the time at work. It will take about an hour to reheat. Check your temp and stir in a bit more sauce if needed. Make sure you have reached an internal temp of 165 in under 2 hrs. Adjust with a bit of seasoning and finishing sauce then serve. There is not set amount of finishing sauce, just one of those things you have to do by feel and taste.

    To give yourself a bit more space for hot holding. Have a friend take your smoker to the location and use it on a lower temp to hold your food hot.
  17. jarjar...

    Great info! I'd like to do it that way, but just got back from the place and they only have 1 regular size oven. Other foods are being cooked/warmed up and I won't have any space to warm mine!

    Also was told to "only" cook 10 butts. So I know I can fit 10 in the smoker at one time with space around them.

    So.. I think I'm now back to cooking them for the day of and holding them in ice chests.....pulling them as needed.

    Edit: Just got done reading Eric's post.. whew.. he did a bunch of work. I was wondering why he thought it was going to take over 24hrs. to smoke the butts though. I am figuring on roughly 14-18hours of smoking time and will have them in the chest for 3-6hrs before pulling them. Going to stack them in either 1 or 2 ice chests. I have a large enough one for all of them.
    Last edited: Aug 22, 2013
  18. smokingranby

    smokingranby Newbie

    Let me start by saying I have never cooked for that many people.  I do some gatherings up to 50 people from time to time.  With that said I always cook before hand.  I reheat the day of.  I do not add finishing sauce.  What I do is add chicken broth.  Not a lot just enough to keep it moist.  Add about 1/3 of a cup per pan of pulled meat. Heat for a bit covered on 225.  Check it at about 25 minutes. Stir it up and if it looks like it needs more then add it.  Check again in about 20 - 25 minutes.  I have never had anyone complain about taste or dryness.  I am sure there is someone you can have help you reheat it.  Good luck and keep us updated.
  19. smokingranby

    smokingranby Newbie

    Let me start by saying I have never cooked for that many people.  I do some gatherings up to 50 people from time to time.  With that said I always cook before hand.  I reheat the day of.  I do not add finishing sauce.  What I do is add chicken broth.  Not a lot just enough to keep it moist.  Add about 1/3 of a cup per pan of pulled meat. Heat for a bit covered on 225.  Check it at about 25 minutes. Stir it up and if it looks like it needs more then add it.  Check again in about 20 - 25 minutes.  I have never had anyone complain about taste or dryness.  I am sure there is someone you can have help you reheat it.  Good luck and keep us updated.
  20. Slap me.. no Qview...[​IMG] I had my family take over my house and I was so busy putting everything together as we had just got back from the rehearsal dinner and I had to get them on the smoker.

    Ended up smoking 10 butts... all fit on the smoker. I had to put the bottom rack right on top of the water pan though, as I didn't figure out the rack positions before I loaded it, dummy me.

    Smoke was going well. I did have to rotate a few roasts throughout the smoke to get the timing right. I used cherry and applewood.

    Took 17 1/2 hours, started at 225*'s and pumped it up to about 285* for the last 2 1/2 hours as time was running short. They still didn't makke my target of 203*. A couple were 188- most were at 194*, so I took em off and put some apple juice in the foil and wrapped em up to sit in the cooler as it was time to head to the wedding. They pulled pretty easily and were tender, even the 188* ones, so I was happy with that.

    I instructed the people what I wanted done so I could enjoy the wedding, which was beautiful, and they pulled enough to place in a 4 1/2" deep chaffing dish, and left the rest wrapped.

    I had cwb's, homemade cole slaw, Sweet Baby Rays and Cattlemans Gold in squeeze bottles.

    When I got to the reception hall, they said the pork was a hit and they had already refilled the chaffing dish once. I got many compliments throughout the night too. I also noticed that quite a few were not using the CWB's and were just putting a pile of pork on the plate.

    There were about 175 people that showed up and I ended up having 3 butts left over. There was a big pot of jambalaya made, little sausages, meatballs, and a host of desserts and fruits, cheeses, dips, etc. too.

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