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Unread 08-19-2011, 09:56 AM   #1
99ways2die
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Question How can I feed 40+ people, when...

...I've only had my WSM for 1 week and "ran" it once?!

Alternate thread title: "Halp me Obi Wan Bretherenobi - you're my only hope!"
CN/s on the bottom for pre-schoolers and those with ADD
Long post is long.;)

...but I guess I should rewind a bit and perhaps introduce myself first.
Long time troller, first time caller/poster. I've spent weeks pouring over the "material" here, finally registering and mustering up a post (act. 2nd now).
What can I say, like to do my own homework, and hate coming out no0b gun blazin with Qs which have probably been discussed to hell and back.
So, long story short: I'm (was) a long time gasser, newly baptized by the fire of lump. I'm a believer...and so is my wife and my daughter (even though she wouldn't know her a** from a pork butt - she's 1yr old!).
It all started with a camping trip a few weeks ago. Needed a way to cook for the fam. Wife and I always got by min previous years, but having a little one I needed to make sure I can cook consisted meals.
So I rescued a 22.5 kettle from the CL oppression. Threw some lump on it, tricked a few chickens and turned out some mean-a** grub.
Wife nodded……….and the kid just said “Um!”

…and we’re hooked. Nothing I ever managed to improvise on my gasser has ever come out as good as even my virgin flight on coal. All hope is lost-there ain’t no going back. In a couple of weeks I managed to assemble the following arsenal: 22.5” kettle (older model; CL rescue), 18.5” kettle (newer model; CL rescue), E320 Genesis (preexisting condition) and a newly purchased 18” WSM (with the ol’ chain and ball’s blessing).
The only reason why I got the blessing to buy a SWM (aside from persuading her that $224 at H-D was a good deal (looked on CL for months, never found one)) is b/c mah B-day is coming up shortly. 1.3 weeks, really.
And here’s my problem, and the main reason for this post: can I feed all these people with my limited experience, or am I kidding myself and risking a huge embarrassment (if I rely on my cooking solely)?
I can cook a great chicken on the kettle, I can do some mean steaks (which I can’t afford to feed them at the party), I can do anything on the gasser. All I’ve done on the WSM’s maiden voyage were ribs. Came out good, although I kept them in a little too long (lawn, and other sh** just wouldn’t take care of itself) so they were just slightly too dry.

I’d like to ask you guys with experience (and everyone is probably head and shoulders above me) to answer this for me:
Give that I will have 2 days to prep, what should I make for the masses?
I don’t mind spending 2 days/nights cooking, but I realize I can’t do 6 chickens 2 nights ahead and serve them later. The question is WHAT should be cooked and in what order to make everything come out decent?

I’d really appreciate some help with schedule and menu line up.
Not looking to do anything crazy here. Butts, brisk, ribs, chicken, then burgs-n-dogs/etc.
I’m just not sure how to pull this off and IF I can pull it off.
…so fire away, don’t be shy – even if the only thing you tell me “you’re outta your mind, order some pizza and be done with it.”
Thanks!
-Mike




PS:
Dunno if this will earn me any street cred, but here’s a quick cell phone shot of my “jet engine steak”
Just guess where I got the idea…






C/N:
Want to feed 40+ people with Q, but have limited experience on lump/coal. What do I cook and what time schedule to follow?
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Unread 08-19-2011, 10:23 AM   #2
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First thought was:

A. (4-5) pork butts... pull off, and cooler/rest for a few hours.
(or pull off @ 165* after 4-5 hours... foil and finish in the oven.)
*** may take anywhere between 12-16 hours total... pending on your grate temp.

B. After the butts are off the smoker, prepare for a protein reload with 3-4 whole birds since you already have a hot smoker ready. (3-4 hours)

Will be alot of work... doable if you stick to a gameplan.

There are WSM masters out there who will give you the real juicy details.
[I am not one of them... but that's how I would pull it off on a small cooker].
Fuel: charcoal with a few chunks of fruit wood.
Burn technique - minion method.
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Unread 08-19-2011, 10:31 AM   #3
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10-13 servings per butt...

I would do 4 8# butts and chicken while the butts are resting (per BBQ Bandit). I would also do burgers and dogs on a grill.

Do the chicken the way you know how - on the kettle. When the chicken is nearly done, throw on burgers and dogs.

Run the butts with 2 per rack on WSM. Plan on starting them about 14-16 hours prior to serving - they will take around 12 hours (not guaranteed). Rest them in a cooler wrapped in foil and towels for 1-2 hours (can last 5 hours easily).
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Unread 08-19-2011, 10:45 AM   #4
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Thanks for the quick re:s guys.

...so I guess brisket+pork is kinda outta the question then?
(unless I make brisket, then keep in fridge for a day, essentially serving leftovers)

No prob-I realize that w/o bigger arsenal I can't do it all...and even if I could I just don't have enough hands and time to watch over everything and still have it come out OK.

J/everyone,
How bout doing the butts, like you suggested, but have them done on Saturday morning, then a ton of ribs (on racks) on the WSM and designate anywhere b/w 6-8hrs for them to cook?
In the mean time I could do chicken, or even 2 rounds of it time permitted.

Burgers and dogs would/will be done on the fly, or simply whenever ppl want 'em once (if) they show up.
Figure the gasser will serve veggie, then burger/dog duty the whole time.
I could do legs/etc on it before everything starts...but at this point it seems like a lot of food............and work!

-99
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Unread 08-19-2011, 10:58 AM   #5
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You gave several clues and aspects how to pull it off... that's good.
Alot of people + alot of food points directly to the WSM.

Briskets and ribs doesn't exactly use the grate surface on the WSM as good as the pork butt.
(As in 30 lbs of butts on each rack uses the space more efficiently)

There is no need to juggle multiple smokers/grills simultaneously on a one man show.
That's where the stable and safe environment of the oven rolls in to finish off the butts
while the chicken is on the WSM.

Fewer variables to cause a disturbance in the force.
[Who's your Daddy?]
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Last edited by BBQ Bandit; 08-19-2011 at 11:25 AM..
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Unread 08-19-2011, 11:00 AM   #6
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Pork butts are probably the easiest to learn with; and by that I mean learn the smoker, learn the meat, learn how you like to season....

Save your first briskets for a little farther down the road, when you love your brisket share it with you 40+ friends.
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Unread 08-19-2011, 11:05 AM   #7
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""""Dunno if this will earn me any street cred, but here’s a quick cell phone shot of my “jet engine steak”
Just guess where I got the idea…""".......alton brown.
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Unread 08-19-2011, 11:14 AM   #8
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I served 25 ppl two weeks ago on my 2nd voyage with the 18.5" WSM. I had done pork butts once previously, and was very pleased with the results, so I repeated the process in greater quantity with only a few small tweaks. I improved my rub a little bit & switched to a different brand of charcoal. It came out great.

I don't really see the need to finish the butts in the oven. Sure it can be done, but to me that over complicates the process by adding unnecessary steps. I'd just put 4 butts on the WSM & put a probe in the meat on each shelf. If you're using the Minion Method you shouldn't have any trouble getting them done before your fuel runs out, and if it does get low just add more. 12-14 hrs @ 275-300 to an internal temp of about 192 (when the probe slides in and out easily) sounds about right to me. I would also suggest letting them rest in a cooler for at least an hour, preferrably more before pulling them.

***I would suggest doing a trial butt first, though., even though the above process is pretty much foolproof.***
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Unread 08-19-2011, 11:26 AM   #9
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When you made the chickens did u set up the cooker as a smoker or just threw some charcoal in and lite it up and cooked chicken on it? like a grill.

if you are familiar with temp control and set it up like a smoker, then go for some pork butts. they are easy and hard to mess up, even if your temp control waivers.

stay away from brisket! id even stay away from ribs with that little time to practice. as you experienced, you CAN mess up ribs. chances are people will eat em and like em, but unless you practice many times with ribs, they wont come away raving about em (which is prolly what you would want, bc its music to a cooks ears)


so i would also just go with pork butts like Jaskew said. you can do em! n they will come out tasty!
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Unread 08-19-2011, 11:37 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by atvalaska View Post
.......alton brown.
Ha!
Probably where it might have come from, but I am honest when I say I 1st saw it here.
Seen a few ABs a while back, but don't get to (nor want to) watch TV too much now-a-days. Actually, I kinda wonder why I even pay the bill...
Good catch though.

Now just tell me where he got the idea and you can color me impressed.
;)
-99
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Unread 08-19-2011, 11:39 AM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cbpeck View Post

***I would suggest doing a trial butt first, though., even though the above process is pretty much foolproof.***
Yup - that's what I plan on doing over the next couple of days......even if it means that I'm gonna give away majority of what I cook!
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Unread 08-19-2011, 12:53 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 99ways2die View Post
Yup - that's what I plan on doing over the next couple of days......even if it means that I'm gonna give away majority of what I cook!
-99
i always give away the majority of what i cook! if i didnt id give away 3/4 to teh trash can! and thats not fun.
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Unread 08-19-2011, 01:05 PM   #13
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3 butts on top grate and 1 brisket on bottom of wsm. cook overnight. when thy're done cooler 'em. they'll stay hot for hours.

then, cook however many racks you want.

when those are getting close to done, cook your birds on the kettle.



it is ALOT of work for sure, but if you enjoy, go on ahead!
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Unread 08-19-2011, 01:20 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtyDirty00 View Post
When you made the chickens did u set up the cooker as a smoker or just threw some charcoal in and lite it up and cooked chicken on it? like a grill.
Indirect. Coal on 1 side (modified-minion start), pan w/wata to the right, grate, spatched chicken with legs facin the hot isle, breast over the pan on the opposite end, few chunks of apple and 1 hickory, lid on, bottom vents at 1/8 (kinda loose so gotta watch it), top vent wide open and positioned over the chicken.......and let it rip.
Haven't made a bad one yet (although there's always room for improvements, right?)

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtyDirty00 View Post
stay away from brisket!
This sounds like the best advice so far...hahah. I can't afford to practice briskets every night for the next 10 days, so I'll probably leave this for my own adventures - minus the crowds.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtyDirty00 View Post
id even stay away from ribs with that little time to practice. as you experienced, you CAN mess up ribs. chances are people will eat em and like em, but unless you practice many times with ribs, they wont come away raving about em (which is prolly what you would want, bc its music to a cooks ears)
Over my dead body! Hah. I will make ribs...even if it end s up that I'm the only one eating them.
Think about it - my audience is a whole bunch of Polaks (I'm one of 'em).
They wouldn't know any better any way!
:P
Jokes aside, I definitely won't make them my main dish, but I will make some regardless. If anything, I may just foil them half way and do a 3-2-1 or any one of its variations. I'm serious when I say that half of my guests are probably used to boiled/etc stuff...and any change in what they see will be notable.
Besides, will have burgers (half of them never saw a good burger either), dogs, some shrimp and other crap to hold them over, even if the ribs are not perfect.

Quote:
Originally Posted by DirtyDirty00 View Post
so i would also just go with pork butts like Jaskew said. you can do em! n they will come out tasty!
Hope so!
Thanks.
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Unread 08-19-2011, 01:35 PM   #15
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I would think if you have two full days, go ahead and prepare the butts the first day, get them done completely, rested, then cooled and fridged over night. Do a brisket and the ribs the second day, allow plenty of time, meanwhile, do a couple of chickens on the kettle and have burgers and dogs ready to cook as you go.

There is no reason with a kettle, gasser and WSM, that you should not be able to feed 40 people. Pulled pork easily and very successfully reheats, even in an oven or gas grill.
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