Are you interested in cooking for hundreds of people at a time on an offset smoker or stick burner? In this story, I want to show you how I cooked enough pulled pork and pulled chicken to feed several hundred people on "Big Black", my Meadow Creek TS250 Tank Smoker trailer.
For this cook, we only used the tank smoker, not the BBQ42 chicken cooker. We cooked 16 pork butts (2 cases or 146 pounds raw weight) and 24 whole fryer chickens (2 cases or 92 pounds raw weight).
Big Black, my Meadow Creek TS250 tank smoker trailer has the optional insulated firebox, charcoal basket, trim package, and stainless steel exterior shelves. It makes cooking for crowds with charcoal and wood fun and easy, and even a bit classy.
To fire the tank smoker, I used around 20 pounds of Chef's Select 100% hardwood charcoal and a couple of splits of smoking wood. I used the propane torch to light the charcoal and get the tank up to 225 degrees F. If you have a charcoal basket, there are different ways to do it, but it works pretty well to aim the torch into the exit of the firebox as shown above to get the smoker heated up to at least 200 degrees. Then put the torch onto the charcoal to get a portion of it lit. The wood on top will also light. It also works in the reverse order but I like to get the tank heated before I light the charcoal.
I have an insulated firebox, so I keep my firebox vents at about 1/4" open for smooth sailing at 225 degrees F. With this method, I add more wood or charcoal every 45-60 minutes, or enough to keep a nice fire going.
The Pork Butts
Starting meat prep
The pork butts come in 2-packs. I unwrapped them, cut off any bloody areas on the surface, and then spread mustard over them and seasoned them with Meadow Creek Black Pepper Brisket Rub.
Ready for the smoker
Smoker up to temp
The whole fryers came with 12 in a case. I cut off the wing tips, tails, and extra skin around the tails.
We seasoned them with Meadow Creek Gourmet Seasoning all over, including some under the skin on the breasts and thighs.
Ready for the smoker
The TS250 has a door on both sides of the tank.
The sturdy, food-grade stainless steel grates slide out on both sides of the smoker.
All in a line...
The sliding grates easily slide in and out of the smoker as you're working with the meat and more than strong enough to handle the weight of the meat.
Both grates are full of meat.
Getting some color in the smoke
Would you like to cook on your very own Big Black?
Wrapping the Pork Butts
After 7 hours in the smoker, the butts had the color I was looking for, so we wrapped them in aluminum foil to get them up to 200 degrees F faster.
Here they are back on the smoker and the chickens are coming along beautifully.
I sliced one pork butt once it reached 170 degrees F in the foil. It took 9 hours for it to get up this temperature. It took the others around 12 hours total to get done (200+ degrees internal temperature). They were so tender, I didn't have to hold them in an empty ice chest.
Sliced pork butt
The chickens were done when they reached about 180 degrees F in the thighs. It took them 5-6 hours. Opening the smoker to take photos and videos affected the cook time quite a bit.
We pulled most of the chickens and mixed the white and dark meat together for sandwiches and casseroles.
Bagging pulled pork for the freezer
This cook made two meat lugs of pulled pork.
I unwrapped the butts in the lugs and saved all the juices from inside the foil. These drippings contain a fair amount of grease, so I was a little nervous about using all the juices without separating the fat, but it mixed in very well and hasn't been a problem.
The pulled pork was very tender and easy to pull. By keeping all the drippings, it has more of a "brothy" flavor, similar to what it would taste like if I had added gravy like some people do. Also the bark was very soft from being held in the wrap, so it was different from a lot of pulled pork I've made, but at the same time very delicious. It's been amazing in chip dip, quesadillas, etc.
We vacuum sealed it all and put most of it in the freezer. We finished late at night, and we were too tired to weigh the yields, so I don't know how many pounds of meat we ended up with.
Pulled chicken ready to serve or vacuum seal
Close-up of chicken
Vacuum sealed chicken