I worked in retail automotive sales for several years and we had a sales manager at one point that was fond of saying, "There's a butt for every seat boys." He used that phrase to impress upon the sales consultants that successful automotive sales people are able to identify customers' "buying signals" and "hot buttons" in a very non-confrontational, efficient, and friendly way to make sure sales people showed them the correct vehicle for their tastes, preferences and plans for use.
Now 10 1/2 years laterI find myself using a smilar analogy to expain why different types of bbq meat lend themselves to certain situations and why some folks prefer chicken to beef and pork butts to pork ribs. "There's a bbq meat for every taste, budget and occasion."
BBQ chicken thighs are a very affordable, easy to prepare bbq entree, that won't break your budget. They can be prepared quickly for those spur-of-the-moment backyard dinners when guests stop by unannounced and you're scrambling to find something to feed them. Just trim, season, bbq on a grill or slip them on the bullet smoker for an hour at 350 degrees until the skin turns golden brown and the internal temperature reaches at least 170 degrees and you'll have a light, but tasty bbq treat.
If you need to serve a lot of food to a lot of people, bbq pulled pork butts are definitely the way to go. A two-pack of seven pound pork butts cost about $23-24 at the local Sam's Club and will easily feed 30-40 people depending on the serving size and side items available. I like to cook them the weekend before (set aside 7-8 hours for this), pull or chop the meat, vacuum pack/seal, and pop it in the freezer. You can then transport the frozen pulled pork in an ice cooler for the family reunion, wedding reception, graduation party, or similar occasion. Reheat the vacuum pack in the oven or in a pot of hot water on the stove top. Serve the pork on a hamburger bun with baked beans, coleslaw, potato salad, apple sauce, corn on the cob, or just about anything else that sounds good; for a stick-to-your-ribs meal that will please even the heartiest of appetites.
BBQ pork ribs, whether baby backs or spares, are a couple rungs up the bbq ladder from chicken and pulled pork. Slightly more elegant than pulled pork or sliced brisket, ribs lend themselves to casual dining or something a little more formal like a sit-down dinner party. Ribs are easily prepared a few hours ahead of time, or up to a couple days ahead of the event and can be reheated in about 30 minutes in the oven or on a grill and glaze with bbq sauce when serving. If holding for more than a few hours, I recommend vacuum sealing and refrigerating or freezing. At the very least you can store them in a large Rubbermaid or Tupperware container in the refrigerator for 4-5 hours. Otherwise, I'd set aside about 6 hours for cooking prior to your guests' arrival and plan to serve them hot off the smoker. It's up to you.
If you know your guests would prefer to be eating a rib-eye, t-bone, or sirloin to the typical hamburger, hotdog, or deli meat sandwich; brisket might be solution. Cheap compared to steaks and enough for 20-30 guests, a $30 brisket will please even the most discriminating dinner guests. Cook it ahead of time (takes about 8-9 hours on the smoker), slice it, brush with a light coating of bbq sauce and store in a vacuum sealed pouch for up to a week, or in a Tupperware or Rubbermaid container overnight. Simply reheat when your guests arrive.