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Catering, Food Handling and Awareness *OnTopic* Forum to educate us on safe food handling. Not specifically for Catering or competition but overall health and keeping our families safe too.


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Unread 02-03-2011, 01:18 PM   #1
jtphillips
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Default Catering for 300

Good afternoon everyone,
The past few weeks I have been contemplating the best process for smoking enough pulled pork for 300 people. I know you are going to call me crazy, but I am planning to smoke all the meat for my wedding this September. I figure if I can save my in-laws some money, and get experience cooking mass quantities of meat, then it has to be a good idea. Some of the things I have been questioning are:

(1) How many pork butts should I smoke in the Stump's Stretch at once (for Stump's owners)?

(2) Should I wrap them?

(3) Should I go low and slow, or should I do a higher temp cook?

(4) How should I hold the meat until the wedding (I plan on smoking it the day before)?

On the day of the wedding, I plan to have the Stretch fired up at around 140 degrees and have the pork in foiled serving trays. Once the meat is ready to be served, we will transfer the serving trays to roasters as needed (hopefully this will minimize the meat drying out). What I am most worried about is keeping the meat from drying out the day before. Any and all advice is most appreciated. Thanks guys,

-Tyler
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Unread 02-03-2011, 01:37 PM   #2
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First off, congrats on getting married - smartest thing I ever did was marry my wife.

Second off, just to throw it out there - have you thought about a pig pickin'? A couple of big ole hogs may be easier to deal with...just an idea.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 01:50 PM   #3
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My personal opinion, is that your wedding day is too special to add the stress of doing the cooking yourself. You only have one shot to do it right the first time, don't make it more difficult than it is going to be already.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 02:05 PM   #4
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I'm no expert in this area, but from what I've been told, you need to plan on approximately 50% shrinkage from your pre-cooked meat weight.

So if you are planning on 300 servings of 8 oz per, you would need to start with around 300 lbs of pork shoulder, or 30, 10lbs shoulders. If you plan on pre-cooking, you would probably have to wrap and pack the shoulders whole into coolers. I believe that they will hold for a decent time, but not sure what the limit would be. Mainly, you need to make sure they maintain a temperature of 140 degrees or more.

Catering a wedding is a big task, with lots of planning, setup and serving work. If you plan on taking all of this on, I would suggest that you have some good friends assist you with the actual setting up and serving portion. If you trust them enough, you could use their help with the cooking, too!

You could ask this question in the Catering area, where you could get more direct numbers. Whatever you decide to do, Good Luck!
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Unread 02-03-2011, 02:10 PM   #5
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congrats on getting married, I'd recommend not doing this, you'll have so much going on the day before and the day of, I'm speaking from experience I did this and regretted doing it. If you want to do, I'd precook at least a week ahead of time, pull, then vacuum pack the meat, then get someone to reheat it for you the day of. Just a suggestion. good luck.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 02:17 PM   #6
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I would like to congratulate you on getting married, but I would have to agree that the process of trying to pull off a picture perfect wedding is stressful enough. Hire a caterer and dedicate your time to whatever you need to do to make your wedding that much better. Good luck.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 02:26 PM   #7
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Not recommended... if you must... enlist a Brethren Brother to assist.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 02:34 PM   #8
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When my 2 younger sisters were married I was asked to cook for each wedding. The problem was the wedding and reception was 10 miles apart. for the younger sister, the wedding and reception was at the same place. To partake in the ceremony, I had to shower and change to be presentable for photographs. Then change back to serve the meal. the younges sisters was just a chaotic! Had to enlist my FIL to help as I was in her wedding party. While I was attending her wedding, the manager of the reception establishment gave my FIL a hard time about where he was set up amongst other things. Too much will be going on for you. Especially since it is YOUR wedding. please take my advice and have it catered. Enjoy this special occasion as it will be stressful enough with out having to cook.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 02:44 PM   #9
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I wouldn't recommend it either. You don't want to be standing up there saying your vows and wondering about the pork in the smoker....

Congrats too!
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Unread 02-03-2011, 02:55 PM   #10
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Congratulations on the wedding.
I believe you should enjoy this day with your wife and friends and get somebody else to do the cooking.
You may want to step back and look at the situation as if it were a movie playing out in your head.
Visualize how you will get everything done and most importantly, keep you new wife happy at the same time.
Good luck with whatever you decide to do and congrats again.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 02:58 PM   #11
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If it was me and my wedding and I was set on cooking for it for 300, I'd have to consider: Plan on about an average of 6 oz finished meat per person, which would be about 112.5 lbs total finished pulled pork. Figuring about 5 lb average yield from a butt, you'll need to cook about 23 butts. I don't have a clue how many you can fit in a stumps stretch...my stickburner is big enough though, though I wouldn't want to run my stickburner and try to get married. If it was me, I'd have it catered or find a local Brethren to help you out. Logistically, it is a nightmare to think about doing it all myself. I've cooked for weddings, and there is no way in hell I'd want to do it and be the groom. Too much stress, too much responsibility, to much going on...pay the $$ and let someone else take care of it. Relax and enjoy your day.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 03:23 PM   #12
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Most i really fit on my stretch is about 18 or 2 cases of bosten butts, on 3 racks. I cook hotter, then wrap, to speed it up. Even so your going to need 2 loads for 300 people.
I have no idea of your situation, but your going to want help, what about the sides?
Dont forget it always takes longer then you plan for so plan to be done several hours early....

Looking forward to hearing what you decide.

Eric
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Unread 02-03-2011, 04:21 PM   #13
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I cooked for my wedding, I cooked pp and sliced beef for 350. What I did was cook the day before, pulled the pork without adding anything and put in gallon ziplocs in a cooler with lots of ice. With the beef I sliced and added foil juice/broth in foil half pans and ziploc and iced down. You want to make sure if you do this you cool that meat down as quickly as possible, takes lots of ice and couple good sized coolers.
I warmed up the next day in foiled full pans at around 250-300 degrees until up to 165.
Do you have someone to help? Stretch would be simple to cook overnight or start in early morning and pull meat off up to 4 hours or more and hold in coolers.
Definitely doable though, I wouldn't be afraid if you had some good help. I did all the sides also, but I had a couple buddies take care of keeping roasters/chafers full....they are there for the beer anyways
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Unread 02-03-2011, 06:50 PM   #14
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Thanks to all who replied. Just to clarify, I am not doing anything with the sides or etc; I am only smoking the meat. The day before the wedding I plan to smoke, pull, and store the meat for the next day. It is an outdoor wedding, so the day of I am going to have my smoker by the outdoor kitchen with the Stoker locked in at 175 degrees to warm the meat---which will be foiled in aluminum pans--- back up. On the day of the wedding, I don't plan on having to do anything but get up early and get the Stretch cruising. From that point on, I am delegating the responsibility of scuffling the meat to roasters as needed. I think that if I create a good strategic plan, and have some help, it is definetely achievable. Thanks again, fellas.
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Unread 02-03-2011, 07:29 PM   #15
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I personally do not like to pull the butts and keep them whole till just before service time. The meat seems to hold the juices better. On big events I chill in large aluminum pans with the drippings for up to 3 days prior and found it takes 2 hours at 300-350F to re-heat. If done far enough in advance it shouldn't add any stress to your wedding but adds a personal touch to the event. Best wishes on your marriage.
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