Last week we cooked party wings, baby back ribs, and pork butts for 90 people at the annual Fisher’s Country Store employee picnic. I used my Meadow Creek SQ36 Smoker to smoke the ribs and pork butts and my BBQ26S Chicken Cooker to grill the wings.
The evening before I prepped the butts and ribs. The next morning I got up early to clean my smoker and got the butts on by 8:00 am. By 6:00 that evening we delivered the meat. It was a long day, but very rewarding to master the challenge of cooking for a crowd and see so many people enjoy it.
Read on to kick your appetite in high gear…
There were four Boston butts. I removed most of the fat caps and seasoned them with Meadow Creek Brisket Rub.
The butts went on the smoker at 8:00 am. Once they were dark enough, we wrapped them in foil and put them back on the smoker until they were done. I expected them to get done by 4:00 with this method. Dinner was at 6:00, so I thought we’d have adequate time to pull the meat and get cleaned up to hit the road by 5:30. I guess some of the pigs had a hard life because the stubborn things just refused to hit 200 degrees even by 5:30!
Some of the meat was just perfect and easy to pull, but parts of it was still in the 180s and not ready to pull. I had no choice but to chop some of it. We mixed it with the looser stuff, added some sauce and seasoning, and it worked just fine.
Trimmed and seasoned, ready for the smoker
Ready to wrap
Ready to pull
Ribs and butts on the smoker
Ribs and butts before the wrap
Ribs and butts wrapped
Baby Back Ribs
There were six racks of baby back ribs. Some of the baby backs I get have extra slabs of meat and fat. I trimmed them up a bit, removed the membrane with my catfish skinner, and seasoned them with my homemade rib rub.
One batch of the rub does three racks of these baby backs; I had a little less than that on hand, so I finished it off with Meadow Creek Brisket Rub.
We cooked these ribs similar to those in my recent “12 Racks of Ribs” blog post, wrapped in aluminum foil for part of the cook. This time I was really careful when I wrapped and unwrapped the ribs, and they finished up beautiful. They went on at 11:00 am and finished at various times; I was able to take them all off by about 5:30.
Some people use a time method such as 3-2-1. This works as a guideline, but I think it’s important to proceed to the next step once the ribs are ready. First, I left them in the smoke (unwrapped) until they had a nice smoke color that suited me. Then we wrapped them in foil, adding apple juice, brown sugar, and sauce. Once they pulled back on the bone and seemed tender enough, we removed the foil and put them back on the smoker. This final stage only takes 20–30 minutes; I just want the moisture and sauce to set up a bit. (I’m getting ready to publish these methods as a new recipe, so if you’re interested, stay tuned!)
Baby back ribs
Ribs seasoned and trimmed
Adding sauce and brown sugar
Ready to wrap
After the wrap
Sliced, back view
Sliced, meat side
Sliced, end view
The party wings come from my meat supplier in handy ten pound bags. The Meadow Creek BBQ26S holds about 75 pieces which is a little more than ten pounds. We grilled two batches, one with Meadow Creek Gourmet Seasoning and the other with a jalapeno seasoning.
I got the fire going by 3:30 and the first batch of wings on a little before 4:00. The second batch was finished by 5:30.
Lighting charcoal in the Meadow Creek BBQ26S Grill
Grate filled with party wings
Ready to eat!
Serving the Meat
I didn’t get any photos of the food tables, but we set up a couple of chafing pans (full pan size) to serve the meat out of. The meat was all in half pans except where we ran out and had to use a slightly bigger pan for some of the meat which had to be slightly crunched to fit into the chafing pan. (I have 30 half pans in my stash now!)
There were four half pans on display: pulled pork, ribs, regular wings, and spicy wings. The extra pans were kept warm in a chest until needed.
In all, we had at least ten half pans of food. Most of the wings were eaten; we only had a handful left. About half of the pulled pork was left, which filled almost nine quart size freezer bags. There was a half pan of ribs left too, so we could have gotten by with a couple less racks of ribs. It can be hard to know how much food to cook, but it worked out perfectly with some leftovers to savor in the days to come.
PS. Itching to start cooking for events? I hope this story has inspired you with how much amazing barbecue you can crank out with small backyard smokers and grills, such as my SQ36 Smoker and BBQ26S Chicken Cooker.