View Full Version : Cooking multiple butts for a party . . . need some help

09-24-2011, 08:52 AM
Hey all, my little girl is turning one this coming week and we're throwing her a party next weekend. We're expecting about 25 - 30 guests and are planning on keeping the menu pretty simple. Pulled pork, mac and cheese, potato salad, and beans. I've never had to cook more than one butt at a time and am wondering how many I should cook? I usually get the double cryo pack from Sams which are about 8lbs a butt. This will also be my first overnight cook on my WSM and I'm a little nervous about that. I only have a single probe thermo that isn't remote, so I'm planning on setting my alarm for every couple of hours to check on things. Do I need to move the butts on the bottom to the top rack half way through to ensure everything gets cooked evenly? I'm planning on letting the butts rest until an hour or so before the guests arrive, then pulling them. Once they are pulled, what's the best way to keep the meat warm? I was thinking about running up to Sams and getting a couple of those disposable chaffing dishes and covering the top with foil. If any of you have a better method, please let me know. I know it's not a huge party, but I've never cooked for more than 8 to 10 people so I'm feeling a little overwhelmed. I'd appreciate any tips you guys can throw my way. Thanks!

09-24-2011, 09:05 AM
Good Luck on your cook. I have cooked 4 butts (about 8 lb ea) on the top rack of my UDS @ 250* and they took 10.5 hours. As for your weight I would think you are close. I would think you would get around 10 lb of pulled pork from your 16 lb starting weight. As for your first overnighter with the WSM I can't help you there. I just bought a 22 WSM and doing my first butts on it tomorrow. I did get the guru adaptor for it though (I like my sleep) I have heard after a few runs that the WSM holds a very good temp. As for holding the butts after pulling. Not sure. I have held 4 butts in a cooler in foil and towels for 5 hours and they were still over 170* I would think your best bet is to try that and pull just before serving. Good luck on your party.

09-24-2011, 09:09 AM
If you're having sides I would say 3 butts would be plenty. You will get about 5-6 lbs yield out of each butt after pulling so at 1/4 to 1/2 lb per person the above math should work fine.

Here is what I do for mass attacks. These are very, very good and will stay moist for days.

Trim the fat cap off. I know what people say but you're just going to have to wipe off a layer of slime later if you don't. And all your rub will go with it. You will still have plenty of intramuscular fat to keep it moist.

Coat each butt with molasses and then sprinkle on your favorite rub evenly to coat.
Throw the butts on the smoker and cook at 225 until they reach 160 internal (or you are satisfied with the bark color)
Take them and put each in a 1/2 size foil pan with 1/4 cup of lemon lime gatorade and 2T of the rub you used. WHY GATORADE you say? Well, what's Gatorade used for? Re hydration. It's science people, works on pig muscles too.
Bump smoker up to 250.
Cook until 200 internal then take out and rest for 2 hours in the oven or a cooler / cambro.
Pour all the juice from the pan into a gravy separator (you could also pour the juice into a container and put in the freezer) The idea is to be able to separate the fat from the rest of the liquid.
Pull those butts and discard any fat or silver skin. Pour that juice (minus fat) back over the pulled butts (reheat first so it's hot) and then top with your favorite bbq sauce. Coat all the meat thoroughly. It will seem like alot of liquid but that meat will slowly absorb all those flavors and it will stay moist forever.

Wait about an hour for people to tell you to open your own BBQ restaurant. :cool:

BBQ Bandit
09-24-2011, 09:27 AM
^^^ Mooner has sage advice ^^^

Your WSM will do just fine... its ultimately up to you how many steps you want to perform before and during the overnight cook.

A very simple approach can yield popular results.

Straight out of the fridge to the cutting board
Cut off the cryovac wrapper and rinse.
Roll in your choice of rub.
Place on your WSM.

Let cook overnight... no turning. (You could rotate upper/lower if you REALLY want to)
No spritz... yup, no spritz (Remember I mentioned a simple approach)

If your smoker is maintaining the temp and you're monitoring with an external probe... let it ride (no peeking).

This is what you get... pic taken last weekend

To take the pork to another WOW level... pour in either peach nectar or mango juice as you pull the pork.

09-24-2011, 10:03 AM
IMO an 8lb butt will yield 4lbs cooked pork. As mentioned, 1/4lb of meat per person 1 butt will feed 16 people. Also as stated, keep it simple. I like to slather with cheap yellow mustard then a nice heavy coat of rub (unless you're using Byrons Butt Rub then go light). Put 2 shoulders on your top rack, a couple chunks of whatever wood you like and let it coast 250* on your WSM until 1 probe reads 190*-195*, at that time, check the temp of the unprobed shoulder, if that reads 190*-195* they're done. If they are done early, wrap in foil then wrap in newspaper or towel and place in cooler until needed. If you want, you can foil your butts at 160*, this will speed the cooking process. Once you're ready to serve, pull pork and sprinkle a little bit more of your rub on the pulled pork. If you have leftovers and want to reheat or send home with guests, put in oven safe container with a little bit of apple juice, reheat until warm and happy birthday to your daughter!

Dave Russell
09-24-2011, 10:16 AM
I usually plan on 10 oz. uncooked butt per guest to get about 6 oz. of pulled pork per diner. If 30 guests, that's 300 oz., or 18.75lb of pork butt...a little more than two eight pounders. However, your planning is heavy on the side dishes and I assume lots of the guests are kids? If so, just pick up the largest double pack they have at Sam's, and of course, ask if they'll check what they've got in the back as well.

If cooking two butts no more than nine pounds each I would place both on the top rack. If they don't fit with a bit of space around them, use both racks, but it's fine if there's no space between two on a grate. It just makes for a longer cook and less bark. I prefer the space for more bark and more even cooking, but turning each butt 180* midcook is a really good idea if cooking two to a grate on the 18.5" wsm.

If using water in the pan, both racks end up cooking at about the same rate, but if there's two on the top rack and one on the bottom rack the top two will cook faster since they're hanging out over the hotter outer perimeter of the grate. (That's why I recommend rotating them 180* sometime midcook.) If not using water in the pan, the bottom rack cooks a bit hotter so be sure to put the larger butt down there. I use water in the pan so I usually just have a probe stuck in the smallest one to monitor temps and don't check for tenderness until it reaches 190*. If I have two eight pounders on the top rack and a nine pounder on the bottom, the larger one down there won't be too far behind the others....not like it's a big deal, and sometimes it might be done very close to the others, very rarely before, though (if using water).

If you've cooked one butt at a time, cooking one or two more isn't that big a deal at all, especially if they're not much larger than eight pounds each. I'd just add maybe forty-five minutes or so to your normal cook time to allow for a slower start up in cooker temp from all the cold meat. (Reminder from above: You totally crowd a rack though and it'll obviously take a lot longer to get all done and they don't cook as even, either.)

Lots of folks will say to wrap up in foil and hold in a hot cooler. I used to do that myself but am a lot more careful about "residual" cooking from holding in an environment that keeps TOO much heat for too long. You'll just have to make your own judgement on that. I'm fine with wrapping and holding in a cooler with some wadded up newspaper for a couple hours or even more, but I prefer to cook to tenderness and not try to guess at how much more it'll cook while holding. No more pre-heating coolers and simply trying to keep it as hot as I can for me. I'm more interested in preserving the bark texture and getting a moist product. Sorry so long, but hope that helps. Tried to put a lot of lessons I've learned in all that for ya.