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Gobble Gobble...Temperature in the UDS for Thanksgiving

Discussion in 'UDS Builds' started by bennyshaik, Nov 21, 2013.

  1. Hey guys,

    Just posted in another thread about my turkey preparations (and you can see the awesome results over in the Poultry section). I had some questions relating to temperature in my UDS that I hope you can help with.

    I am smoking a 14lb bird for Thanksgiving. My family is large and my grandparents' ovens are small, so we always do two 14lbers. I aim to please (and to have mine taste better than my sister's), so instead of winging it on Turkey Day, I did a test run last weekend. After looking around for a recipe, I settled on the Huffington Post The Ultimate Turkey (Google it since we're not supposed to post links). It turned out amazing, although next week I will probably halve the salt in the brine as it was a little salty for me, which means it will be way too salty for my family. One of the best parts was the gravy, which for those who don't care to look the recipe up involves a mirepoix, herbs, turkey parts and water on a rack underneath the turkey the entire time it cooks. 

    The smoke went great, I suspended another 22" grate on the bolts that attach the handles for the gravy. All's well that ends well, but getting the smoker to 300 took almost 2 hours, with every intake and exhaust wide open. Once there, the bird only took about 3 hours to cook, but that length of heating time has me a little concerned. I suspect that this is because I put the gravy on at the same time the lit basket went in to heat up, which then added basically a gallon of fridge-temp water directly underneath the cooking grate. That both diffused heat and made the grate take WAY longer to get to temp, since the coals had to boil that water first, and then work hard to heat beyond boiling (212*) to get to cooking temp. I was shooting to cook between 325 and 350, but got tired of waiting and threw it on there at around 300*. It spiked an hour in (all intakes still wide open), which I suspect was a result of most of the water boiling off. The other side effect was that I had to add water to the gravy once it was complete in order to have enough to dress the bird (especially if, like next week, it will be eaten by 20 people all at once and not savored over the week by me). LASTLY, the skin on the side of the bird that was face-down was significantly soggier than the other side, I suspect is a result of steam.

    SO, having read all that, my question is: Is there anything I can do about this? Leaving the gravy out is not an option, it was incredible and smokey and really makes the meal. My only idea would be to heat the smoker without the gravy and then put it and the turkey on at the same time, but I'm concerned that doing so will make the temperature plummet without the ability to recover. I'd much rather wait around a while to get to temp than have the entire proposition ruined. Thoughts? Ideas?

    And since you read all this way, here's something to look at:

  2. Light more charcoal in the begining. If you used 1 chimmeny go to 2. Keep the vents wide open till you get up to temp. Heet the gravy water before you add it to the UDS.

    Happy smoken.[​IMG]

  3. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    When you want hot temps you shouldn't have to necessarily light more charcoal for higher temps.....you do need more air intakes also.  Just do your self a favor and add more intake.   It'll be there when you need it to not only get hotter quicker but maintain those temps. 

    I just lit mine a few minutes ago and only lit a small handful of coals...with in 15 minutes it was about 300 and i had to choke it back because i'm cooking at 275 this cook.   A UDS should be able to cook up to 400* if you wanted with no problem....NEVER EVER should you have to light a chimney full. 
    Last edited: Nov 21, 2013
  4. Thanks, guys. I have no problem hitting 300+, but this time was different. I like David's idea of pre-heating the gravy. Any insight to what effect throwing it on once at temperature would have?
  5. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Having liquids in your smoker will always cool the smoker down....Pre heating something will only help you get hotter a little quicker but the physics of it remains the same.....just like sweating the steam vapor creates evaporative cooling.    If you had more air you could have gotten your smoker hotter than you did even though normally you don't have any problem getting it hot. 
  6. Air and fuel creat heat. Their are 9000 BTU's in a generic pound of charcoal. Kingsford blue claims theirs is 9700 BTU's per pound. In order to get the BTU's you have to burn fuel. In this case charcoal. It makes very little differance how you get them burning (chimney or more air intakes.) Air alone will not produce heat unless you pressurize it ( which I hope a UDS doesn't do)

    I can light my UDS with a chimney. Depending on what temp I want. I let more of the chimney get going. Dial in my temp and be in bed in under 30 min. for an overnight smoke. Or let the whole chimney get screaming hot for a 400+ sear.

    Let us know how it goes.

    Happy smoken.

  7. fwismoker

    fwismoker Master of the Pit

    Hey David hope all is well with you brother. [​IMG]   

    If you brought your drum here right now you it wouldn't be able to sustain a hot poultry cook no matter if you started with 2 full chimneys....it would start hot but die down.   What i'm saying is if he added more air it would solve his problem ...gravy water or no.   There's enough barometric pressure that if he added another 1" nipple it would be a HUGE difference.   Keith
  8. I would like to see a pic of your UDS. If you have a pipe going up with your valve on it. It looks nice but does nothing for performance.

    As keith has said. You have to have air.

    Happy smoken.