Barbecue for a Thousand People

Barbecue for a Thousand People

It’s not every you get to play with 600 pounds of meat and a smoker the size of a Humvee.

I’m going to back up for a second and tell you this: Every year at work — and this is a food company, mind you — we’ve eaten the same classic American cookout menu: Burgers, hot dogs, chips and watermelon.

I mean it’s good, but we’re a food company… shouldn’t we make more ambitious food?

But this year was different. This year, we decided to eat corn on the cob, saucy pork ribs, salmon grilled on cedar planks and pulled pork barbecue. Real barbecue. On a real smoker.

But for 1,000 people, one needs a lot of meat and a really big smoker, and as you may have noticed… those aren’t available at every corner bodega.

Thus, the quest for real barbecue at our picnic wasn’t looking good until someone noticed that Harry’s Water Taxi Beach just happened to have a really big smoker. A big, two-barrel smoker with a huge grill at the end. Kind of impressive.

The really big smoker at Harry's beach

The game was on. We needed supplies. A lot of supplies.

This turned into an Excel Spreadsheet. An army of hungry people is nothing to tinker with. Details needed to be decided. Among other things, my boss (initiator and executor of this wild scheme) demanded:

200 lb Pork Butts
75 lb Pork Shoulder
50 lb Pork Ribs
40 lb Pork Belly
250 Packages of Potato Rolls
10 gallons of Barbecue Mop Liquid 2 Mops
1 Quart Kosher Salt
1 First Aid Kit…

And that’s just a sampling. Simply planning out and gathering up the supply list was a monster proposition.

The night arrived, the crew assembled, the supplies were delivered, the fire was lit, and it was ultimately a 16-hour smoking party.

Here’s the short version of the whole process.

And was it good? Yes. Was it worth it? Oh, yes! Undeniably the best company picnic ever.

But you don’t actually need meat and a smoker of epic proportions to make good barbecue.

In my estimation, what you really need is a manageable smoker, a nice pork butt (confusingly, the “butt” is actually the shoulder), a bunch of wood, a lot of free time and Paul Kirk’s awesome barbecue book, full of recipes for barbecue mops, rubs, sauces and more. Seriously. Kirk is the man.

Rows and rows of grills with cooking burgers, corn and barbecued chicken


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