Finished up the butts about 11 am today. In my SNP this took over 24 hours last time to do 15 lbs and I used 30 lbs of fuel and eventually put them in the oven for another 3 hours. In the UDS it took 21 hours to do 17 lbs of Boston Butt to 205* and I only used 10lbs of fuel. The efficiency of the UDS is amazing me. I stayed up pretty much the whole time monitoring the UDS since this was the first cook on it. After a 3 hour nap earlier this afternoon I am back up and doing 12 lbs of country style ribs. This second go round it was much easier to get the temps I wanted and lock them in.
I am amazed more people don't make these as they seem to be very simple to use and you can't beat the price. Now for some observations;
- My pulled pork had a much different flavor than the last few times I made it. I am assuming this is either because a.) the fat dripping onto the coals changes the flavor somewhat vs. my offset horizontal which is indirect and/or b.) this is the first cook in the UDS.
- Taking the lid off would cause temperature spikes regardless of how quick I was. At this point I don't know how big of a deal this is or how much effect it had on the cook. The temp would be back where I wanted it within 15 - 20 minutes.
- The temp seems easier to regulate using the exhaust vs. intake. It seems to me that when I made an adjustment with the top vents (don't have a chimney on mine) the results were more immediate vs. the intake. I played with both and intake adjustments took up to an hour before I would see what I expected in temp. I didn't notice any bitterness in the meat so I am assuming creosote wasn't a problem for me.
- The fewer hot coals added to the charcoal basket, the easier it is to lock in temps. My first test fire as posted earlier in this thread resulted in high temps. As was suggested, I trimmed down the amount of hot coals used to get it started and that helped immensely. If you can't control it at the start of the smoke, it is going to be a frustrating day the rest of the way.
- While my massive charcoal basket of doom is indeed massive, putting a coffee can in the center for wood chips and chunks works well. The idea is similar to that of putting chips and/or chunks into foil so it cannot flame. Using an open top coffee can I was able to let the thin blue smoke out for an extended period of time without having to worry about actual flame up. With the butts, it took an hour for it to start smoking. With the ribs I am doing now, I dropped a couple hot coals into the can and got immediate results.
- A door for the charcoal basket would be perfect. Around 2am I found that I was struggling to maintain temps with the pulled pork. Don't get me wrong, 10 hours on 5lbs of lump was amazing to me compared to what I am used to. The issue was that enough lump had burned away but there were still some pieces left. Having to unload the meat to get to the basket was a PITA. Perhaps I should have put more in to begin with anticipating how long it would take but this was my first cook. I think my next build will definitely have a door though. Taking the lid off needs to be minimized.
I am very pleased so far and am plotting out my next UDS build because having one isn't good enough now that I have tried it. I also plan on making a few modifications for convenience sake.