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Pulled Pork: how much to buy...

post #1 of 14
Thread Starter 
I am new to smoking. I do it some at home and have fed 50 people at most. I have a request from a friend to feed 300 with pulled pork sandwiches. I'm unsure as to how much pork to purchase for that many people. We are talking about high school seniors, so these will not be little old ladies picking at a sandwich. We are talking about big eaters! Please help. I'm just trying to decide how much to buy so I can know if I want to "accept the challenge". Thanks for any help you folks can be.

post #2 of 14
High school seniors? More than you think, especially if you have a lot of boys.
post #3 of 14
I'm guessing Jodie wants to know how many ounces per sandwich. 4 ounces of cooked pork should be a nice size- I think. I don't have a clue how much shrinkage there is in pork shoulder/butt or whatever cut you're using, but don't forget to account for that. I'd also be curious to know what the percent of overage she'd need to cover those ravenous teenage boys! 10%? Depends a bit on the sides offered, I know...
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post #4 of 14
"Standard" amount depends on locale and more on service plan. People in the south tend to expect bigger pulled pork sandwiches. 3 oz is a small sandwich for a hamburger bun, 4 oz a generous one, 6 oz a larger bun or half of a 12" French roll, and generally 1 oz per inch of French roll. I suggest using ice-cream scoops to keep service size consistent -- declasse with anything else, but helpful with pulled pork. Since the choice is pulled pork, any questions about class have already been answered.

One-quarter pound of cooked meat per person is too small for an adult crowd, Cub-Scouts maybe. Budget at least 6 oz per head even for church ladies, and 8 oz for firemen and athletes. I think I'd go between 7.5 oz for a high school group. For Boston butt, figure about 30% - 35% waste, and for whole shoulders figure 40% - 45% depending on leanness and the way you trim. This is for for meat which has not been "enhanced;" are neither generous portions, generous waste figures; but they are not stingy either.

If it's cost plus, I'd feel beyond safe with 210 pounds of raw butt, or 240 pounds of raw shoulder. If I were covering costs against a per-head fee, I'd be be comfortable with 190 and 220.

FWIW, you can save a little weight on the meat if you serve cole-slaw in the sandwich, rather than along side.

Pulled-pork parfait is a popular barbecue menu item now. If the deal hasn't been fully negotiated, or even if it has, you might want to consider this service option. Best served in clear glass or plastic.

Finally, bread choice is very important and will partially determine the amount of meat eaten. I suggest a selection of top-quality rolls.

Good luck with your first big 'Q,
post #5 of 14
I am also doing pulled pork for a graduation party. I will also be serving chicken and was wondering how much pork to buy. My party is an open house for around 80 guests. I was thinking 20-30 lbs of pork shoulder and 120 pcs. of mixed chicken. There will be 7 sides. Does this sound like enough meat? I am second guessing now, thinking about the teenage boy appetites...:lips:
post #6 of 14
I'd think 1 shoulder and 4 chickens was cutting dinner for 20 a little close. But, multiply up and that's what you've got. You're thinking 20 chickens and 3 shoulders? You might actually save some money on the chickens if you buy full cases, but I can't promise that. 1/4 chicken per person with pork is generous, but do it anyway. Go 2 dozen on the chicken.

Your group is small enough that your portion size will be the major determining factor of amount served. 25 lbs of raw shoulder cooks down to around 16 lbs; and 16 lbs means 40 average sandwiches. For 80?

I'd be thinking around 55 lbs of shoulders minimum, which should give you a bit more than 35 pounds cookied -- give or take. This is enough for everyone to have one 4 oz sandwich, or to serve a larger 6 oz size with the hope that some people will have chicken or sides only. Or... and this is what I'd do, have small buns and medium rolls and give the choice of 3 or 6 oz sammies.

Good luck,
post #7 of 14
Thanks for the advice BDL!

I was thinking I didn't need as much pork since I had a second meat and also some of the guests are vegetarians. ....but you're right of course, I didn't allow for waste :o oops! AND the fact that the party will have a lot of teenage boys.
I like your suggestion for different sizes in buns. Great idea!

post #8 of 14
I usually figure 1/2 pound raw per person and then an extra butt or two. Rather have leftovers than run short. Baked beans and coleslaw!
post #9 of 14
Just wanted to let you all know how my party went this past weekend.....

First of all, the food was a hit! Many compliments all around. My client was expecting around 100 guests and about 75 showed up. I had 45 lbs. of pulled pork and 36 lbs of grilled b/s chicken breasts. There was plenty of food including the sides and desserts. I planned for the hungry teenage boys but more senior citizen women showed up than teenage boys so we had some food left over. Better than not enough. :roll:
Alot of people were eating the pork without the bun, which is what I like to do. The bun just gets in the way of the best part! It's hard for me to figure how much bread to purchase when so many people are watching their carbs. Also, in my immediate family alone there are 6 people who have had gastric by-pass surgery. They don't eat like they used to, which is a good thing.....

The only thing that posed a possible problem was cooking the chicken. I didn't get the OK to bring a grill to the site until the last minute. Thankfully I had one available and nearby and it all worked out. What would have been the best alternative to cooking that amount of b/s chicken breasts quickly? I was thinking of pan-searing it and finishing/keeping warm in the oven had the grill not been available. What do you think?

Thanks again for all the advice I get here on the forum!
post #10 of 14
As you've mentioned those 300 peoples are "big eaters", I think it's would be better to prepare at least 1000 - 1200 ounces will be the idea amount for it.

WoW, I'm bet this must be a great and funky party for sure...:look:
post #11 of 14
Caboose -- glad it went well for you.

Pork -- I'm assuming your recommendation for 1,000 to 1,200 ounces is for cooked, which translates to 67 - 75 pounds, which at the most conservative waste percentage translates to about 95 to 100 pounds raw, on the bone. (I'm giving those figures in case Jody's actually considering them.) That seems awfully tight to to me. Translating the other way -- to individual servings. You're only allowing 300 sandwiches at 3.3 to 4 oz each -- which is an average but not generous pulled pork on a bun sandwich -- and a below average pulled pork on a roll sandwich. You've got to consider that at that size, some of those boys will be eating three sandwiches.

Mary B suggests 150 pounds raw, on the bone which IMO is a fair amount; although as I already wrote, considering the nature of the crowd I would go a skosh higher.

My dos centavos,
post #12 of 14

I'm a competition Bbq'er but ive never cooked for more than 15 people. Ill be doing pulled pork sandwiches for my girlfriends nursing school graduation party. So far we have about 55 people. at 7oz per person cooked and 35% waist I was coming up with around 52lbs uncooked pork shoulder. Does this sound right? How do I account for the bone? I just don't wanna be short on food!

post #13 of 14

According to my book of yields, a #406 butt has a wastage of 15% to boning and trimming. Boneless might be better, for ease.



I usually figure a 55% yield of cooked product for pulled pork.


Can't get your arithmetic to add up based on your numbers.

post #14 of 14

I would say that your in the right range for starting weight. I smoke a couple of boneless butts a month, and average 50% yield.

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