Need menu for 300 people

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Original poster
Apr 3, 2007
Hello all, I need your help.

I am new to smoking, but am loving every minute of it. My first smoke was New Years Eve 2006/2007, so I am by no means a "pro".

A fellow employee has tasted a few of the items that I have smoked and has asked me to cook for her daughters wedding reception. What she really wants me to do is smoke a bunch of whole chickens. I am a little nervous to say the least.

Now she does not want this to be a meal for the guests, just a snack type of event. So my question is how many whole chickens would an event like this take?????? Or would it be better to do a combination of chicken and some kind of pork (tenderloin or pulled).

She is trying to keep the cost down and I am not charging her, so any suggestions would be helpful.

Thanks in advance....
Man, Thatâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]s a lot of chicken! I would think that a chicken wouldnâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]t serve more than 6 people-that makes 50 chickens. I would try to talk her into pulled pork & briskets myself! What kind of smoker are you going to use! Do you think you are ready for something that big?
Well, I don't think she wants it to be a meal. She is planning on having rolls and serving it like a snack sandwich, as she is going to have other things like salad, crackers and cheese, etc..... She is planning on removing the meat from the bone and having it layed out in a warmer. I was thinking a combo of chicken and pulled pork myself.

Do I think that I am ready for something like this. Honestly I am a bit nervous. Am I scared, not really, just nervous.
For little snack sandwiches, chicken will be difficult, or rather not so much difficult, as overly expensive. Trying to smoke whole chickens and remove it from the bone will take FOREVER!! If she wants chickens and plans on serving it on buns, your best bet is probably to do boneless skinless thighs and breasts. Less work for you, less time for you, more money for her. If she wants to serve it as a meal, well OK then, whole chickens is perhaps the way to go, but for snack sandwiches, keep it simple. I would also perhaps suggest sliced brisket and pulled pork for snack sandwiches. When you start comparing it pound for pound, it comes out pretty close.

How much space do you have on your smoker?? Do you have enough to do 50lb of boneless skinless breasts? I guess you could use rib racks and stand the breasts up perhaps, but keep in mind the time required to do all this and make sure to cook a day or two in advance so everything is ready to go. Do NOT try to cook everything and have it all magically come off the smoker right as the wedding finishes. It will not. Something will go wrong and you are left with 300 hungry people. Been there. Done that. Not gonna repeat that mistake!!
Ya might wanna consider some turkeys-or turkey breasts (start watching for sales-right after easter they are dirt cheap!) they take pretty much same time (especially if ya split em!) alot easier to carve too! Plus some butts! Or how about a couple whole pork loins (get em on sale cheap at Sams or Cosco!) Rubbed and smoked-sliced real thin…great sandwich platter meat! Very un-redneck!

p.s. Remember to the common folk, smoked turkey is very gourmet!
We’re just spoiled
That's a very tall order for some who hasn't done it long! The chance of you making somebody sick is there, you'd need an industrial smoker and a whole lotta room.....I'd ask her to price out some local BBQ joints to cater it, even just the snack concept. JMHO
Rookiesmoker I agree with Up In Smoke the tenderloins would be the best way to go. You can get whole loins at sams and there pretty big. What kind of smoker are you using. Ive done a few benefits and some grand openings and we always figured 1/2 pound of meat per person if this helps you.
Thats a whole lot of people for someone to smoke for that is just begining....scares me. My pigroasts I do a 200lb. pig which 25 hungry ball players put away fast. It will serve 125 with side dishes. Is she wanting the smoking to take place there or can you cook a couple of days ahead?
Rookiesmoker IMHO this would be a very large undertaking. Stop and think, how long will it take you to prepare this much food, do you have a place to keep it refridgerated and safe after it's cooked, where or how do you reheat that much food, and do you have the equipment to keep it at serving temp. after you set up and wait for the wedding to end. A lot to think about and do if doing something like this.
Thanks to all that have replied.

To answer a few questions:

I am leaning toward the tenderloin, as it can be sliced thin and put on a roll for a sandwich or just eaten like it is.

I plan on doing the smoke the day before the wedding. This will ensure that I have ample time to prepare everything.

I have access to a food vacume sealer that I plan on using after the loin has rested for a while.

She assures me that there is a commercial-type heating tray there at the church that we can use. I will either reheat the loin on the grill or slice it and reheat it in the church oven before serving.
RookieSmoker if you are head strong and hell bent on doing this, can you at least bring us some pics? And tell the tale of how it went. Every now and then someone has a large event that someone want them to cook for... this will be good info for them. Thanks

Keep Smokin
To be on the safe side, I would allow myself more than 1 day to smoke! Itâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]s probably gonna take ya 4-5 hours just to slice it. If I figured right, 1/4 lb. meat per person. 300 people…thatâ€[emoji]8482[/emoji]s 9 pork loins at 8 lbs. each. 3-4 hours each! yeah, more than 1 day!
Great freakin Mother of Pearl! Whadda ya nuts?
And doing it for FREE?

Just make sure you plan ahead and make more than you think will be needed, cause there is a chance you will need it. Better to have some left over than to run out!

Good luck.
Food for 300 is a pretty tall order for anyone. I don't know what kind of equipment you have and I am not sure of your experience level. In my opinion, and I might be wrong, you have bit off more than you can chew. IMHO, pork loin will be the hardest meat you can cook the day before and then reheat and not be DRY as hell. I would not do it for anybody, for free or not.

I just hate someone who cuts down my plan without offering another. Here is my suggestion. If you are attempting this by yourself, don't do it. If this is self serve figure at least 3/4 lb precooked meat per person. There will be folks that just get a plate of meat if it is any good. I would get 50 lbs of boneless chicken thighs to cook the day of. I would cook about 5 pork butts prior to the event and also 5 briskets. The briskets and butts can be sliced/pulled the day of. Put the meat in a large foil pan along with all juices and perhaps some fat also. Pour a beer over this meat and seal the top with foil. Place these foil pans in the oven or in your smoker to warm. Cook the chicken thighs the day of and have some of your help slice them as they get done and pan them up.

I know there are those of you who will say that this is way too much meat. All I know is that I have NEVER run out of food and hope to be able to say that when I die. Two weekends ago, I cooked all weekend for a group of people, men, women, and children mixed. On Saturday night, about 40 people ate 2 large briskets, (there was enough for 3 sandwiches left) and 15 lbs of boneless chicken thighs. Along with that, they also had a potato dish, pinto beans, cole slaw, bread and cobbler for desert. If it is free and self serve, it is hard to have too much food.

Sometimes NO is the correct answer. I am not trying to discourage you or discredit you in any form shape or fashion, but I think I have an obligation to draw from my experience and bestow my thoughts on you. Never forget the safe handling issues. Good luck.
Thanks everyone,

With your suggestions, I have talked them into pork butt and briskett. I have also recruited a couple more smokers and am going this weekend to buy myself a larger smoker (gave me an excuse to give to the woman of the house).

I will have two wood burners and two electric smokers to work with. We plan on starting on Thursday night and cooking all night and day on Friday.

Now my question is, do I put the butts in the wood burners and the briskett in the electric? This seems logical to me as the butts are bigger and will need more space.

Getting the meat Tuesday and will take pics from start to finish. is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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