Wednesday, January 07, 2004

Making barbecue for 500 - My first adventure with a smoker

The mission is to make barbecue for 500 attendees at a Scout event at a Scout camp. My buddy Jim does this as a regular thing, so I helped him out, to find out how it was done.

Jim started up the smokers at 5 am. He had brought his own smoker and the camp had one. We smoked a dozen pork shoulders in each smoker for a pre-cooking weight of 500 pounds of shoulder. You lose about half in grease, bone and skin, giving one half pound per person.

Of course, Jim had problems all morning with the camp's smoker. It flared up, giving some of the shoulders a nice charred look. Controlling the heat was a pain, so the shoulders cooked slower. But this worked well when we started chopping the pork. We started with the ones that were done first and let the others smoke ( in Jim's smoker ) while we chopped.

All morning, we tended the smokers, sitting out in the shade of the camp dining hall and shooting the bull. We all joked that we were missing the vital ingredient for smoking, the beer can sitting next to the smoker, but it was a Boy Scout camp.

At about noon, Jim pulled the bone out of the first shoulder to be done and passed around chunks of the pork. Now, that was ambrosia. No sauce, just fresh smoked pork. Heavenly. It made the hamburgers at lunch seem tasteless.

For two hours we chopped pork. Jim had a old chopping box and stainless steel chopper that did the job nicely. We had a couple of guys skinning and slicing the meat off the bones and one guy chopping. Once we had about a leg chopped, we'd mix a couple of cups of Jim's barbecue sauce ( I did not get the recipe ) and filled a large stainless steel pan, covered it with foil and put it back on the smoker, turned down low.

I was late for dinner, so I ended up with a plate of barbecue, but no extra sauce. It was good cue, but the sauce would have made it better. It was not as good as the samples at noon.

It turned out that the turnout was not as high as expected for the dinner, so we sold the remaining barbecue as a fund raiser.