- 526 Posts. Joined 1/2013
- Location: Columbus, Ohio
- Points: 30
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Yesterday was the day for UDS seasoning as well as the inaugural smoke. It held steady around 235 for several hours until I finally shut it down. Kroger had chicken thighs for 69 cents a pound, so I smoked a couple of packs. Everything turned out great. I couldn't get the temp above about 240, but I think this was because I didn't have quite enough charcoal. Much to learn, but two thumbs up for the experience!
You might find getting higher temps hard to do with those intake risers. It seems most guys who use them end up taking them off or at least one. My theory is there is more friction on the intake air thus slowing down the flow. Could be wrong about that though. If you are having big chicken quarters or something and want to get crispy skin you might unscrew one of those and see if you can get more heat. Looks wonderful though and great job.
Interesting. You could be right. Today, I started with more charcoal and gave it longer to heat up before dumping the hot ones into the basket. It's been running noticeably hotter than last night. For a while, it was 250 or higher. Then, after I closed it down a bit, it dropped into the 230s. I'm keeping your suggestion as a possibility, so thanks for your input.
Some pictures from today. The first UDS brisket turned out amazing! Very juicy, tender, and full of flavor. Also a pretty respectable smoke ring, which became more apparent after letting it sit for a few minutes. Afterward, since the UDS was still hot, I smoked a few chicken breasts prior to grilling. This was sort of a reverse sear, but with the first part done on the smoker. No complaints at all. The kids couldn't stop eating everything!!
I've had barrel cookers for what seems like forever. The old style, where we just cut a square panel out of the side, to load more briquets or lump,notched out the rim for the rebar, hung our chickens, tri tips, or whatever, and let it rip. An old steel for the fire basket, more then enough for a load of chicken or tri tips, I did lots or whole turkeys and prime rib, by adding more fuel as needed, and borrowing the lid off my Weber kettle.
I also built a new style UDS. Nice features the old style did not have. Ability to regulate air, therefore temp. A grill for those things you don't want to hang. And, in my case, a bigger fuel basket. I wrapped a 1 ft wide piece of expanded metal, around a propane tank, tacked it together. Holds 20 lbs of fuel.
If you use the minion method, to start your fire, it will take a lot longer to get hot. Use a FULL chimney of fuel, leave the barrel lid off until its GLOWING, now, you have the higher temp.
For those of you who have never cooked hanging meat just over a glowing bed of coals, you might be surprised that it doesn't burn the meat. Not at all. Juices start flowing, drip onto the coals, and give it an unique flavor profile. I used nothing but briquettes for probably 30 years, then started mixing in smoke wood with the briquettes. I started using Lump when I built the UDS, and really like how it cooks and tastes. I noticed a taste when I used Kingsford the last few years, that I hadn't noticed before. The lump fixed that.
If you can bend at the waist, you can do away with the gate valves and just use magnets to open or close the holes. Works great, they don't get hot at the bottom of the barrel.
Another mod I made. I drilled 10 holes in the rim of the barrel, to act as my exhaust, and, to allow me to hang halved chickens or Tri tips when a crowd is in the works.
If you can drill a hole, you can build a barrel. After building the new UDS, i liked the expanded metal basket so much, I wrapped a piece of it around the steel rim of my old barrel. No more having to add fuel when cooking a big turkey. I still use them both, here I was cooking chicken for our fishing clubs get together.