I'M BACK! Daughter's Wedding - My 1st to cook for: Planning, Smoking, Q-View (HUGE success)

Discussion in 'Catering & Large Group Gatherings' started by forluvofsmoke, Mar 27, 2013.

  1. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    My oldest daughter is getting married in June, and by request of herself, and many others (I heard a lot of comments like: Dad, you're cooking for the wedding, right?) [I have 5 kids, 3 still @ home], I was volunteered to cook the meats. Well, I already was planning for it in the background before being asked, assuming correctly as to how this would transpire. I began more serious planning a couple weeks ago by listing what I wanted to cook, planning for a smaller wedding of around 100 in attendance, per my daughter. In reality, I'll have enough meats cooked for over 150 (just in case she under-estimated on her invitation list, and they all show-up...lol!!!).

    Today (03-26-13) I made a trip to our nearest Sam's Club for cases of brisket, pork butts and baby backs (1 case each) and 10 whole chickens (2 of which went into the smoker for dinner immediately after returning home, as 8 will be smoked for pulled chicken for the reception dinner). So, with all the changes I went through in my planning, I thought it would be a good idea to share exactly how I'm putting this together, just so anyone on the fence about doing a similar event can get some creative thoughts going and figure out how they can do it themselves...it may seem overwhelming, but you need to keep it simple, while covering the basic needs from a food service stand-point. Also, with no money being paid to you makes for less restrictions regarding food service equipment...doesn't have to be NSF approved, as some of mine won't be either (roaster ovens, in specific), but I will practice necessary hygiene and related prep and cooking food safety.

    Oh, just to clarify, I was originally planning for on-site smoking and grilling, with the purchase of 2 more larger vertical smokers, but the thought of the stress of trying to get nearly 100lbs of meats cooked and out of the smoker at my desired time for resting, pulling, slicing and serving fresh out the cookers just didn't seem like a good road to travel. So, I'm cooking everything ahead of time, freezing and reheating to serve in roaster ovens, instead. That idea came to me with a great deal of relief, as I was not fond of the idea of cramming 15 slabs of baby backs into one smoker on rib racks and smoking for nearly 8 hours to get them done due to over-crowding.

    Anyway, while the birds for tonight's dinner were getting happy, I assessed my weights on 3 of 5 brisket and 6 of 10 butts, decided the weights would yield at least as much as what I wanted and prepared to get the butts started smoking tonight while the 3 briskets lay in my Q-Fridge until my next days-off work when they will meet their fate as well. The 15 slabs of baby back ribs and 8 birds went to the super-chill to wait for their ride down smoky lane another day in a few more weeks, or a couple months if I want to wait that long...I've got plenty of time to get this finished. The remaining butts and briskets? Well, I have a reunion coming up in July and could smoke 'em up for that, assuming I can wait that long without a personal pulled pork or brisket smoke...uh, probably not very likely, but I can restock for the reunion in event that I can't resist the urge...LOL!!!

    I also grabbed up disposable items such as dinner, appetizer and cake plates, flat-ware, a case of decent, heavy-weight napkins, stainless serving spoons, tongs, etc. Oh, did I mention that I am coordinating the entire meal? OK, now I did...sides will be prepared the day before, except for the wicked beans (a spin-off of Dutch's recipe), which will be cooked on-site while reheating the meats. Why get all this stuff purchased so early? To get it off my "must do list" so I can focus on more important things, an have time to rethink my supplies if anything drastic changes are made before it's too close to the due date, that's why...nothings set in stone, so this allows me to add if I desire.

    The venue chosen by my daughter is 140 miles away from my home (in her college's town), so transport of food and necessary items for final prep will be much easier than doing all the cooking on-site, by far. Also, the venue (chosen just a couple days ago) won't be a good choice for outdoor cooking, as it's an Elk's Lodge banquet room with a full working kitchen (very nice venue, IMHO), so overall I feel that my decision a week ago to cook ahead of time is best...not best for the quality of the finished products, IMO, as ribs, pulled pork with a great bark and pulled and sliced brisket are best served fresh from the cooker, but, this will still be do-able for much better eats than you can pay for to have done on-site...I mean, seriously, who wouldn't like Bbq more than (almost) anything else for a summer wedding reception dinner? Huh? Most of the guests in attendance will be new to my Q, although word has spread far and wide of my abilities, so I'm sure they'll be looking forward to it, and I'm confident they'll enjoy partaking in something I LOVE to do!!! Not to focus the entire event on food, as it's my daughter's wedding...it's her and her soon-to-be hubby's day, hopefully to be filled with many enjoyable memories. BTW, her all-time favorite is pulled chicken, so I already planned on that, just for her, and when she heard today that I had all the good and most of the supplies on hand and ready to roll, she was pretty excicted.

    SO, WHERE"S THE Q-VIEW?!?!?!?!? Alright, you talked me into it...LOL!!!
    Tonight's yard birds, just to get the Smoke Vault back in the groove, as she's been a bit lonely for most of the winter...325* with apple and pecan chunks and 46* at start-up, dropping to 34* in the 2.25 hours it took for them to get happy. Prep consisted of on of my favorites, KISS...rinsed, rubbed liberally with olive oil after drying off, then dry rubbed with Lawry's Poultry Seasoning and Dry Rub (just because I needed something quick, and it's pretty tasty). Olive oil for aiding in crisping the skin, along with a dry smoke chamber. These came out pull-able, fall apart tender, and I wasn't even shooting for that...can't wait to smoke the birds for pulled chicken!!!:

    Around 140-150* internal in the thighs here:

    I could have went to 350*, maybe 375* for even darker browning of the skin, but for the pulled birds, they won't have skin anyway, so I'll probably stick to what worked tonight for these birds...why fix what already works just fine as is, right? Just some quick down and dirty shots of the platter on my desk chair so I could get after my butt smoke:

    I could tell from handling them that the skin was fairly crisp...I've had a bit better in the past with a few extra tricks and higher smoke chamber, but no complaints from the family.

    SHESH!!! I musta been in a heckuva hurry...no pics of the breasts...not even one!!! Not like me at all...[​IMG]...[​IMG]

    No pics of the cut/pulled birds, as I was too busy to get butts in the smoker for an all-nighter...(WHAT?!?!?!)...yep, been smokin' 'em up already...I have one more day off work and my main focus with my spare time right now is the wedding, so why wait?

    And, here's the start of my pulled pork (46lb-10oz pre-trimmed, per my digital scale)..trimmed off the fat-cap and most exposed membranes and other fat on the sides/bottom for a leaner meat with a bit less picking through when pulling it in about 30 hours from this point in time. These are bone-in butts, not injected or tampered with in any way, so the 40-140*/4-hr guideline is null, as these are intact whole muscle meats...piece a cake...er, uh, pulled pork (in about 28-30 hours from now):

    I think they look good enough for one of my favorite pork rubs...Hawg Heaven...(recipe wiki)...minus the apple powder, 'cuz I'm going to add a solution of apple juice, vinegar and water in the roaster oven for reheating...toss it up a bit before serving and viola!!!:

    Into the Smoke Vault 24 @ 10:30PM Mtn Time...ambient temp of 29* and falling, chamber temp of 240* with a heavy smoke up front provided by cherry, apple and pecan chunks and a dry smoke chamber (pea-gravel-filled water pan with foil drippings catch over pan):

    I did some rotation of the butts after 1 hour for more effective pasteurization of the meat's surface due them touching together when I loaded the smoker...I definitely had some concerns over that after looking over the pics (smoker loaded by LED headlamp in the dark), and decided to take action and remedy this as best I could. The last pic, when I dumped to the puter to view, told me I had a potential problem, and I've never loaded the Vault up quite like this before, so I quickly realized that it was time for implementing some corrective measures. I'll stick 'em for internals @ 10 hours or so...or when ever I get around to it if I head off to slip between the sheets...no hurry on internals, as this will be a long smoke, I expect...crowded smoke chamber, heavy load, no foil butts? Yeah, long smoke...thinkin' over 24 hours, for sure.

    I should be able to get some eyelid inspections in soon, I hope before sunrise...just keeping temps stable in the Vault for now, as this heavier load is taking longer for thermal absorption rates to drop off, so dialing the burner back every hour for a while longer than normal is to be expected. This is where the watt-burners have an advantage, but I think this heavier load would zap the chamber temps pretty hard-core with an electric smoker, unless it's had some extra juice pumped into the box via an add-on heater element with a separate power cord...maybe a stock unit with 1,500 watts could pull it off OK...dunno.

    5.75 hours into the pulled pork smoke, and counting...notice the heavier browning on the right...time for a 180* grate rotation...that's why I'm not in bed yet...never loaded this rig this heavy before, so it changes baffling effects, heat flow, hot/cold spots...never know how a smoker will react to a change like this, so, you do a bit longer than usual babysitting if you want it smoked as best as you can smoke it with all your skills, knowledge and the equipment you have on hand at the time...that's always my goal, and this smoke is of very special importance to me:

    Now I'm thinkin' bed soon...been cruisin' pretty smooth in 240* range for the past 90 minutes or so, weather is clear and calm, even have a full moon to gaze at, and temps will stabilize back to where it was after the grate rotation, no problem there...no other foreseeable issues on the horizon at the moment...I like it!!!!!!!!!!!!

    I must be a dedicated Daddy...I haven't eaten dinner yet and it's just a couple hours from sunrise now...thinkin' dinner's not an option anymore...pulled chicken and egg breakfast scramble would be in order, though.

    OK, so at this point you may be wondering just what I've actually planned on doing? Here's my updated list (a rough draft, subject to change as dictated by guest list):


    3:16 AM 3/27/2013

    ***Initial planning for ~100 guests and attendants, expandable to 120+, with full-working kitchen, banquette room, no outdoor on-site cooking allowed***

    Pork Butts, case @ Sam's Club - need min 45lbs (min 25lbs cooked weight);

    Baby Back Ribs, case - need 15 slabs for 2 ribs per person (~31+lbs pre-smoked);

    Beef Brisket, whole (packer), case - need ~45lbs ( min 25lbs cooked weight, pulled point, sliced flat);

    Chickens, whole - need 40lbs (25lbs cooked weight, smoked & pulled);

    ***min 75lbs smoked meats + 15 slabs smoked baby back ribs***

    WICKED BEANS (triple batch - 32.4lbs):

    Bush's Best Regular Beans - 7lb, 5oz - 3

    Pineapple, crushed, 20 oz - 3

    Ro-tel diced chilies and tomatoes, 10oz - 6

    Bacon, hickory smoked, 1lb pkg - 3


    Dinner rolls: 8-9 dozen

    Home-made slow-raised buns (similar to large hamburger buns), 4-5 dozen [48-60 sandwiches];

    SALADS (approx 51lbs):

    ***Pasta Salad, 12b:

    ***Creamy Potato Salad with H/B Eggs, 15lb (no mustard, guest can add mustard if desired);

    ***Creamy Cole Slaw w/carrot - 12lb;

    ***Rice, Whipped Cream & Fruit Cocktail Salad, 12lb;

    ***Garden Salad w/Romaine lettuce, 15lb;


    ***Butter, unsalted, 1lb box - 3

    ***Margarine, 1lb tub, 2;

    ***BBQ Sauce, 2-3 varieties - 1 qt each;

    ***Mustard - 2 pint bottles;

    ***Ketchup  - 1qt;

    ***Horse Radish - 2 lg bottles;

    ***Ranch Dressing, Italian Dressing, French Dressing - 1qt each;


    ***Various Crackers, tortilla chips, potato chips - 15lbs;

    ***Salsa - hot, medium, mild - 3 quarts;

    ***Ranch dip, french onion dip - 6 pints;

    ***Fresh Sliced Vegetables (buy a few days ahead);

    ***Smoked Sharp and Extra Sharp Cheddar and Pepper-Jack Cheeses;


    Electric roaster ovens, 16qt with high-domed lid - 5;

    Extension cords, 12AWG, 25ft - 2

    Power-strip, 15amp - 2

    Large roll 18" aluminum foil;

    Large roll 18" plastic wrap;

    Bus Bins (for ice-bath of cold foods on buffet table) - 6;

    Bar Mops (for condensation from cold food bins) - 20;

    Cooking utensils: spoons, tongs for meat and charcoal, spatulas, meat handling tines (for pots/pans, grills/smokers);

    Serving  spoons and tongs - minimum of 6 each;

    Ice, cubes, 20lb bags - 5 (3 for transport of food in coolers);

    Dinner plates, large divided - 120;

    Plates, small (appetizer, cake) - 250;

    Tableware, full sets - 120;

    Cake forks - 150;

    Heavy-weight napkins - 400 (have case of 1,200);

    Paper towels - 3 rolls;

    Dish washing liquid soap, quart bottle - 1

    Wash cloths and nylon scrub brushes;

    Hand sanitizer, large pump bottle - 1

    Nitrile gloves, powder-free (for food prep/handling) - 1 box of 50 prs

    Catch ya on the rebound with pulled pork...maybe sooner if something comes up along the way that's worth noting....TIC-TOC__TIC-TOC...see ya ASAP!!!

    Thanks for peekin"!!!


    OK, I've edited this post twice, and I'm too tired to add any more that I've overlooked, or correct the rest of my typos...hope it's somewhat legible and you can understand it all so far...LOL!!! NIte all!
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
    mr t 59874 likes this.
  2. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member


    Congrats on the upcoming wedding.

    Definitly a better choice to pre cook and be able to have less stress and spend some more time making memories.
  3. pgsmoker64

    pgsmoker64 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Eric, everything looks and sounds awesome!

    You have your work cut out for you.  Congrats on the wedding!

  4. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    Nice plan and Congrats on marrying one of Five off...You have a lot of wiggle room on the meats. A total of 12oz of the three main meats plus 2 Ribs is a HUGE Portion. I think you can plan on leftovers and sending all the Old Folks home with Doggy Bags. But for things like this it is always better to Stuff 'em Full then send them home Hungry...Best of Luck...JJ
  5. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    10.5-hr update...internal temp check and a couple pics.
    Thanks JJ. I didn't post the numbers on portion sizes, but that's how it came out for me, too. I should have extra to add to the amounts if the head-count goes up, other than ribs, so it work out nicely. And, the rib count was a perfect 2-per @ 100 in attendance. I thought if everyone likes ribs (some don't), they'd all have a nice little portion for their enjoyment, with a wide variety for everyone's tastes. I definitely won't mind leftovers, but as you say, you just never know how many will be big eaters, and a buffet can attract quite an appetite in most folks, so I'm not taking any chances.

    My oldest boy is already married and I have 3 to go after this round, so the nest is getting a bit roomier all along...LOL!!!
    Thanks Doc! Yeah, I was already stressing about how to pull it off if I cooked on-site at a different venue which would have allowed outdoor cooking, and after deciding to cook at home and freeze for reheat, my daughter even expressed her approval...that was before we even had a venue reserved...she knew I'd be so busy with 3-4 large smokers running, plus a pit for char-grilling chicken quarters right before the dinner (on top of having 12.5lbs of pulled bird), to be able to mingle and spend Q/T with her...it just wasn't a good recipe for success and a fun time.
    Thanks Bill! The work end of this won't be too bad, with most of the time spent cooking/preparing at home, transporting food and gear to the venue the morning off the wedding...should be a snap...and I have just short of 3 months to get the meats smoked...yeah, this will be an easy task.

    Well, I woke 5 minutes before my 8:30 alarm after getting about 3 hours of shut-eye...felt a bit groggy, but I was fine after being on my feet for about 10 minutes to do final cleaning of temp probes and checks....especially considering I was driving for 4 hours yesterday, and being on my feet in stores for about 5 hours yesterday. Oh, speaking of temp probes, I found that 2 of my Bradleys are dead...won't power-up, even with fresh batteries, so not sure what I got there, but since I'm just reheating on site, I can get by with one, but won't have a back-up other than a couple analog direct reads to check reheating progress with...not the best situation, so I'll be looking for replacements.

    Oh, I'm sure I forgot to mention the coolers I had meats in when I hit the highway to return home: a 150qt marine and a 70qt...40lbs ice in the larger and 20lbs in the smaller...was a darn snug fit to layer in ice with all the meat, but I'm notorious for packing 10lbs of crap into a 5lb bag, so I got away with it just fine...LOL!!! I did have a rude awakening when trying to load the new 150qt and had to run and buy the 70qt at the last minute. I also have another older, identical 150qt and several smaller ones which I can use for transport of food, so I won't have any issues there.

    The venue is providing non-alcoholic beverages (daughter's request) and the rest of us on both sides agree that a sober wedding is the way to go, for obvious reasons...too many hard-core drinkers out there that don't handle themselves and their booze very well. Anyway, the plan was for someone else to bring sodas, iced tea, kool-aid, whatever, but this will be easier on all of us involved.

    OK, back to the pork butts...temps from upper left to lower right (not clockwise)186*, 171*, 176*, 174*, 168* (a smaller one I put in center to slow it down), and 178*...so, they're sort of all over the place, but with a load like this I knew it would happen no matter how much I tried to even things out, and I'd rather have one or two come out at a time then all 6 at once...been into spots like that before, and scrambling to get a whole smoker full into foil for resting isn't my idea of fun. The upper left butt was the biggest surprise to me when the probe slide in like a hot knife through butter, especially with the temp reading I got...I figured it would be at least 195*, but I didn't poke around too much because it was oozing juices out the probe hole with the probe still in the meat...I get this every time I run with a dry smoke chamber, btw.

    The second through forth pics are another classic camera operator's boo-boo. I'm still not sure if it was the camera strap or the digi-probe cable dangling in front of the lens there (because I know the probe isn't in the meat, but don't know if I set it down or was holding it???), but I un-capped my lens after upload to the 'puter and the lens didn't have anything visible on it, and the out-of-focus object has enough reflection of light and image resolution that it must be a few inches away.Looks like a probe cable to me, though. Just another sign of sleep deprivation? Probably...I make some pretty weird mistakes when I don't get enough sleep, like not taking pics while waiting for the inserted probe to get a stable reading (huh???..not normal for me, but then I usually place enough probes to leave them in after I decide to poke for temps...don't have enough for that today) but I don't beat myself up over it...just learn from it and move forward.

    So, I'm thinkin' pulled pork coming from at least 2, maybe 3 butts in about 7-8 hours...TIC-TOC__TIC-TOC...

    Thanks all!

    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  6. smokeamotive

    smokeamotive Smoking Fanatic

    Lookin good so far Eric! But you've got your work cut out for you! Weddings can be so stressful. But it looks like you've got a good plan of attack. A couple of questions though. If you have this much time, why 6 butts at a time? Why not cut it in half and have an easier smoke and maybe a little more sleep? Also noticed that there was no smoked Mac and Cheese on your menu??? I know you've got alot to do, but this would be and awesome addition to your menu. Good luck! will be watching this one.
  7. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hello, fellow smoker! Yeah, I think the bulk of the stress for me is already over, because I'm feeling really confident in the plan now...I was stressing out for the first few days before I decided to cook at home, 'cuz I'm a 6-hr/night sleeper and was only able to get about 3-4hrs/night. Then it all came together a few days later and I was back to normal sleep patterns again, so that pretty much told me what I should be doing...an easier path for accomplishing all of this and still having great eats for the party. Getting the bulk of the purchases for the dinner out of the way all in one day was another relief, as well. Just need to store it all for longer than most would like to.

    Great questions, which I can explain my somewhat unconventional methods as follows:

    (1) I'm working with a heavier load in the smoker for several reasons: I work a 4-on 2-off schedule, which allows me enough time for a long smoke if I start it early enough on my first day off; meat freeze and thaw times are an issue, as I only have a 4.2 cf fridge just for my own cooking, and this smaller unit causes space issues when dealing with larger pieces, and especially larger numbers of frozen meats. Crowding causes very long thaw times which can cause it to push the envelope on safety regarding total time thawed before being fully cooked. I'm not a huge fan of the running water thaw on large pieces (too long of exposure time to above 40* water on the surface...maybe a food safety issue, which I'm trying to avoid for obvious reasons). So, by doing this all in one batch for the pulled pork, I avert the thawing issues for the butts and briskets all together. I have used a cold water bath for starting a thaw in the past, but only if I can have a probe for water temp monitoring with the alarm set for 40-41*F, and start with ice water, if possible so it's a fridge-temp, but stirring the water often to remove the chill from the meat faster, allowing the bus bin (what I water-bath thaw meats in) to release some of the cold to the room and let the thawing meat keep the water well-chilled. This cycle is pretty much self-sufficient in keeping the meat at a safe temp, but with a faster thaw than in a fridge due to water being more efficient for thermal convection than air...gotta be there frequently to do all this, and then, finish the thaw in the fridge anyway. So, I'm playing a juggling act of sorts, with the butts smoked up right away, the briskets just waiting in a thawed state for my next available time to smoke (have plenty of time according to the "sell-by" date...over a week yet), with the ribs and whole birds being the easiest and least time consuming to deal with for thawing going into the freezer for a later date in several weeks, as time permits me to get those smoked. It seemed like the best approach, given the circumstances.

    (2) I actually had been tossing that idea, until the pre-cooking plan came together. I decided with all the cold side dishes and wicked beans that we would have more than enough, but the major deciding factor was smoking first, freezing and then reheating...I felt that it would be difficult to get the mac cooked to a very aldente' state so that it wouldn't get mushy during reheating, plus the tending/stirring to avoid scorching in a cooker when reheating a large quantity...these thoughts became sort of a thorn in my side, and so I just opted to not make it...one less thing to figure out how to make it work well enough for a really good finished dish.I know not everyone's meals are all perfect, but working with a sure thing makes the pulse and BP cuff more friendly at the end of the day...ha-ha! (I don't have cardio-vascular issues, but don't want to start) I'm sure it could be done, and done well, but that's one dish I haven't made yet...[​IMG]...(I know, are you kidding?!?!?!...LOL!!!)...so, no mac & cheese in the plan right now...I would have loved to do it, though. I also was considering that being it's a summer event, more cold side dishes may be more appetizing due to the warmer weather...sure, we'll be indoors, air-conditioned, but it got me thinking along those lines. Now that I've written this response, I'm already rethinking it...what would it take to get a great mac & cheese from a pre-smoked dish to come out right after reheating...can't be THAT bad. Just need another roaster oven to reheat in...that would be six hot food items, all totaled. Definitely considering it again through...thanks for getting my thinking cap on again...[​IMG]

    Thanks again!

  8. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Now that is Smokin'!!
  9. I am really excited for this DAD!!!! Looks awesome already!!!!!! Can't wait for the wedding day to roll around!! [​IMG]Thanks again!!!! :)

  10. becca

    becca Newbie

    WOW Eric!!! Sounds amazing!!!
  11. jckdanls 07

    jckdanls 07 Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Eric.. to begin with.. I believe you were "Voluntold".. not volunteered to cook.. :biggrin:

    As for the food.. I just drooled all over my keyboard.... AGAIN

    grats on marrying one of em off....
  12. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Update: Pull Pork, as promised...
    [​IMG] Thanks brother! Actually, regarding the volunteering, there may have been a bit of subliminal persuasion involved, but I wouldn't have minded if that were the case...been in a cooking slump for quite a while and the prospects of doing something this challenging was a great boost for my morale. I'm cooking a lot again, it feels GREAT!!!
    This put me off balance for a second or three...the screen name was a dead give-away, Sam! Thanks! Enjoy!

    (for the record, this is my lovely daughter!!!)
    Thanks! Having a blast with this whole adventure, so far!
    Thanks you!

    OK, back on topic here...

    I had 3 butts come out between 196* and 200* flat, so the lower right, the upper right and the upper left were foiled at the 14-hr mark, which is probably among my shortest pork butt smokes to date...fooled me all the way, being the smoker was so crowded, and the butts literally in domino position just waiting to topple over when shrinkage during cooking really got hard-core (was the only way I could stand them on edge and stay that way). They stayed put just fine.

    The 4th through 6th butts came out in the 194* to 198* range @ 16.5 hours. The first 3 went into towel wraps and the second batch went into the "O" @ 170* for 30minutes, then I just shut it off. I rested the towel wrapped for just over 4.5 hours, so the second batch in the "O" only got about 2 hours...pulling made no difference between the two...all were fall apart tender, only being held together by the fantastic bark I created. Both sets were way to hot to handle with nitrile gloves for pulling, but I managed.

    Yield was not what I expected, as I had a ton of shrinkage and I did a very clean pull...if it wasn't meat or bark it got bounced from the pork pull in' party. I don't like eating mushy, fatty tissue or collagen in my pulled pork, so I don't expect anyone to eat it either...call me fussy if you like, but that's me.

    Here we go!

    First one out of the foil for pulling...wakey-wakey!!!

    Lots of shrinkage, as indicated by the separation of the outer muscle layer from near the bone (bone @ 6 o'clock and to the left):

    NICE!!! Broke the bark away form the bone and this is was greeted my tired eyes:

    Pulling complete, and here's the everything I removed from the meat...fat rendered out pretty nicely, and most of the collagen was melted-down as well...gotta love it:

    Alrighty then..now would be a good time to cover your keyboards and grab some paper towels for your monitor...LOL!!!

    ...final warning...

    This is a new 13qt bowl we bought for salads for the reception dinner...glad we grabbed 'em, 'cuz we didn't have a bowl quite this big in the house 'til now...it was full with the 5th butt...I didn't back down though...:

    And the yield shortage...I planned for 25lbs minimum, so I gotta couple more butts to smoke after I get my briskets in waiting finished smoking and into the freezer. So, the 46+ lbs precooked butt weight yielded this...ouch, but I actually have 6 more in the freezer (two from an earlier purchase that I never got around to smoking):

    I (we) tasted some samples just for giggles...great bark even after a foiled resting (will soften some when reheated, but will still offer great texture variations), super-tender, mild smoke with just a really nice back-ground against the rub and pork...moisture was very good as well. Oh, speaking of bark, I poked a hole through the first layer of foil on the 5th butt out of the smoker and I had to get another big sheet torn off to get it contained right away before heading into the house. I determined before the second layer went on that it was the bark, not the bone poking into the foil...crazy-hard, crispy, crunchy...I actually laughed when the foil punctured, thinking, oh man, this is a killer bark if any could be.

    Were all in for a treat come June with this one...got my thinking cap on for a finishing sauce to reheat this pork in which should be a great way to bring it all back to life after being induced to sleep for more than 2 months...nope can't tell ya yet, 'cuz my recipe isn't finished...simple, but a great addition to what's already in this pulled pork. I'll tell ya with the final post after the wedding.

    Hope you're enjoying the ride so far!

    I'll be back in about 5 days with the brisket smoke (4 days on starting in the AM), maybe the night of my last day on shift, depending on how everything is moving along.

    Until then, great smokes to all and to all a good night!

    Sleep well, Sam! Daddy's got it handled...LOL!!!

  13. I never have had a doubt Dad!! :) You have always been an amazing cook!!! :) Love you!! I shall sleep well with all the cooking being covered!! Thank you!!

  14. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Eric that is one heck of a smoke you got going on. I know everyone will love it.

    On the Mac and Cheese if you do the No boil it will reheat great and you will have no problem with it. Just sayin = ):drool :biggrin: :yahoo: :sausage:
  15. forluvofsmoke

    forluvofsmoke Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Thanks Brian! Yeah, I'm still considering the mac & cheese...mentioned it to my wife a bit ago, and she didn't say much of anything, but I quickly noticed that look in her eyes, as if to silently say " What, you don't think you have enough to do? You don't think we'll have enough food?" You know the look...the one that shuts you up and makes you rethink your statement to possibly get a better response, including some vocalization...LOL!!!

    I may cut something back a little on sides, or just add a good size portion of mac & cheese, get an extra roaster oven to handle the reheat, and just go with flow and let it happen...she won't mind. If it ends up being a larger amount of leftovers, I'm cool with that because I'll know for sure that if anyone leaves hungry, it was their own fault...too many different meats and sides planned for this for anyone to not find several things they like to eat. I think she's just worried I'm over-doing it...putting too much on myself, but I seem to thrive on, and enjoy, occasional controlled chaos (not habitually or frequently), and I have plenty of time to bring quite a few changes on board if I need or want to.

    Coordinating and project planning is something that was part of one of my former jobs, and I was quite capable and enjoyed doing it...give me paper and pen or a computer and just step back and watch me go to work...I know how to make things happen when I want them to. This event is really not much different to me...getting things rolling from the start is the tough part...once a few things begin to fall into place, the rest seems to come easy for me...making a plan that's reasonably flexible while achieving your main goals is the key, IMHO. For me to get this much going this soon is actually a great start, and I even put off the trip to buy meats for 6 days just so I could take care of other things I needed to do on the same trip, all in one day. I have little else to purchase, except roaster ovens for reheating. I have a good source with plentiful supplies of the exact roaster ovens I want at reasonable prices, and I plan to order these in April. A few items that can't be stored long-term like fresh vegetables will come later in the game, but no worries there, either. It will all fall into place when the time comes...one piece at a time, the puzzle will be complete, and on time.

    Thanks again, Brian...I just may go for it (mac & cheese).
    Last edited: Mar 27, 2013
  16. bmudd14474

    bmudd14474 Smoking Guru Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


    I understand what your saying about the mrs thinking you are doing too much already but I agree with you about having more than enough so that people don't leave hungry.

    I know you mentioned "Roaster" for reheating. Have you considered getting chafer dishes for serving. Then all you have to do is put the finished product in Catering trays and warm in the ovens at the venue. This way you don't have to worry about electrical cord from the roasters. Just a thought. Also the ovens will prob give a more consistent temp for the warming.

    I can't wait to see this all unfold. Also Congrats on your Daughters wedding. I know it will be a special time. With I was closer because I would offer to help you with it. I have 2 little girls that I will have to do the same thing for one day and hope I put it together as good as you have already.

  17. Looks good!

    Is there an abridged version?


  18. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hey Eric, evening and congrats.... Sounds like this shin-dig will be a lot of fun......   enjoy....  Dave
  19. woodcutter

    woodcutter Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I know from experience you will find out how well the place is wired when you plug a few roasting ovens in. Often it ends up that you need extension cords to break up the draw from more than 2 roasters per circuit.
  20. zahlgren

    zahlgren Smoking Fanatic

    Everything looks awesome so far! Congrats to you and to you, Sam.  Hope you all have a very happy day!

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