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So we have approximately 50 adults and 30 kids and I have a small cookshack (not sure of model it's old and looks the size of dorm fridge). I was planning on 24 lbs of brisket 24 lbs of pork 10 slabs of ribs and just grilling 10 lbs chicken breasts for kids. The party is on a Saturday how long ahead can I start smoking? And the food still be good. What should I do furthest out? I want it all cooked by Friday and reheat sat. Thanks for any help.
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I am certainly no expert on caters...or much else. Big Grin You don't mention where you are from and what your availability of different types of meat is.This can be a decider.

I try to stay away from catering ,as it will make you old. Big Grin

I have been forced to work with some guys that think it is fun to do for a living.

This is not a direct answer to any of your many questions,but Elizabeth has helped many of us get our plan started.

Another forum member's small party.

This from another long time forum member.

To get more ideas,you can go to the pros forum,go to find at the page top,and enter "catering portions".

A couple things I've learned is depending on age of kids they fill up on chips and other junk.Breasts are the most difficult to cook and hold.Hot dogs and drumsticks often do a better job.

Cooking and handling four meats can be tough for experienced cooks with lots of gear.

Brisket can be difficult to cook,hold,reheat,and serve.

If the smokette has a weakness that takes a little extra to overcome it might be ribs.Many folks finish them on a grill to get them just right.

Some folks might do pork butts which cook,store,reheat,and serve well.

You can toss in grocery store smoked sausage for another meat.
Use the grill for legs and thighs the morning of the party.

You're talking 50 lbs each of pork butts and brisket-if you aren't talking pork loin.

This should give you some more ideas and we can answer some of your more specific questions when the real pros get here.
Last edited by tom
RG, I've done a few gatherings of similar or larger size. That looks like a lot of meat.
If you relegate the kids to the chicken for figuring sake, that's 1 pound of raw meat per person and 1/3 rack of ribs.

I did a church banquet once for 75 people. I did six butts (about 45 pounds) and two small briskets (about 22 pounds. The briskets were all gone and they ate two of the butts and the rest went home as leftovers. I guess the key point is how much does your smoker hold. I looked it up on the cookshack website and it looks like if you want to do that much meat with the 24 pound capacity, you're looking at least three cooks.
I Would do the pork butt first, refrigerate in accordance with FS guidelines, then the brisket(s). Instead of refrigerating the brisket(s) I'd foil, wrap in towels and put the briskets in a preheated cooler and they'll stay hot for 8 hours while you cook the ribs in the smoker, which incidentally I'd cut down to St. Louis Style to make them easier to cut, serve and eat.

While you're doing the ribs, I'd pull the pork and warm it back up in an oven mixing in some finishing sauce. That will be a busy time, if you're grilling chicken too.

If you're doing boneless skinless chicken breast, you could cut them into about 2 ounce strips, marinade them overnight and affix them on skewers. They would grill fast and the kid's might enjoy them more, if it's ok for them to have 'pointy' objects. Just my thoughts.

When I'm 'hot seating' a smoker I do a couple of things to help me change over faster. Where ever there will be greasy foil in the smoker, I always put three of four layers down before I begin any cooking. This allows me to just pull the top layer off between cooks and I'm ready to go. It's a good time to dump the ashes if you need to in a metal coffee can. Attached is a story board I did of my first big cook (FEC 100). Good luck.


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Wow guys thank you for the thoughtful responses. I live in the city of Chicago and I'm getting the meat from a wholesaler that I trust and have used before. I actually have a lot of catering experience just not doing a smoke. I managed restaurants for years. I also just bought another 008 I found off craiglist so I can increase my capacity. I planned on doing butts Thursday brisket Friday and ribs Saturday morning. I know what your saying about the ribs they almost look steamed when they come out of the 008 so I always finish over the grill. Thank you all for sharing your expertise.
Well,you have a good supply and the general experience.

The experience with the 008 s will be next.

Like Chaplain Bill says getting the pork done and it will hold for up to four days.Several approaches to hold,heat,and serve.

Like he said,packers can hold in the hot box for the 8 hrs,or chilled for four days.

Altho folks prefer ribs fresh off the cooker,they also could be held for the day in a refrig and warm three slabs to a pan and finish off on the grill.

Yardbirds are really best fresh off the grill .

Much of this depends on how much help you have.
If you are the only one with knife skills,you might stick with brisket flats.Have the supplier get St. Louis,or loinbacks.

Brine the chicken at least a couple hours,as this gives you more cushion when cooking.

I'd stick with bone in butts,as they still pull fast/easy and usually eat/cook better.

Don't know about your crowd ,but Chicago has always been a spareribs and sausage town.I'd try to make them work for me. Most won't know what brisket is ,so personally I'd skip it. It is as much work as all the other put together.

Just my $0.02 from a NON caterer-unless really needed by friends. Big Grin
Originally posted by rgjujitsu:
I love brisket and there are some Jewish folks there so but am going to stick with the brisket but on the reheat would you do moist or would you do dry? A little broth in pan or chop it up and put in hotel pans and mix with sauce? Thanks all so much.

When I reheat a whole uncut brisket I gently steam it. Put it on a flat rack in a roasting pan, add 1/2" of boiling water to the pan, wrap tightly in foil, then cook at 200F to an IT of 160F.
Depends on what you have to work with.

If I am slicing flats and some point,I slice and lean in half pans.Pour enough lo salt beef stock to come up a half inch,or so.Cover the pan with HD plastic wrap and then HD foil over that.
Hold in preheat oven at about 225º,until it hits about 145º internal.Turn down after that.

If you are doing will have some slices and some chopped in the hotel pan.If it falls apart,then resort to rough chop with a little sauce mixed with apple juice.

Keep in mind,I'm just waiting on the real caterers to give you the correct answers. Big Grin
Given your equipment, I would cook the pork and pull it and bag it in a 2 1/2 gallon zip lock bags and chill. then do the same thing on the brisket, and slice and bag.

Then to reheat, put the bags in a large pot of boiling water to reheat. Don't let the bag stick to the side of the pot. After it is reheated put the meat in a pan and put on sternoe pan to keep warm.

Then cook the ribs and the chicken the day of.

I have done this method for meals of over 125 people and it works very well. Will take about an hour to reheat all the meat. I use two turkey fryers to heat the water.


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