UDS cooking tips

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by cigarbque, Feb 26, 2009.

  1. cigarbque

    cigarbque Smoke Blower

    I apologize if this has been asked many times before. Tried the search function first. There seems to be many UDS build threads and many individual UDS “What I cooked today” kind of threads. I thought it would be useful to have a UDS cooking tips thread. An area where experienced Drumheads could share their tips, do’s and don’ts for us new to the UDS. Thanks in advance for the input.
  2. tikiboy

    tikiboy Newbie

    Great Idea of a UDS tips post!
    My tip is, when doing a short cook on the UDS (2-3 hours) after you are done just cap off all bottom vents and you can use the charcoal or lump and the wood again for another cook. This can save $ and extend the life of your fuel by 50% (Remember times are getting tough). I put the used fuel on top of the new fuel on the next cook. Works like a dream!
  3. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Well, here are some that I can thnk of.

    ** Put more charcoal in your basket than you think you'll need. It's kind of tricky to reload after you've been cooking for awhile. After awhile you'll get a feel for how much to use initially.

    ** Start fewer briquettes (or lump) initally than you think you'll need. It's tough to get the temp back down if you overehoot.

    ** Close the valves down farther early on than you think you'll need. Let it warm up SLOWLY. Same reason as above. Easier to catch the temp on the way up than it is to bring it back down. It's kind of like walking downhill while holding back a freight train.[​IMG] If you lose control, it will run away on you and you'll have a heck of a time regaining control.

    ** Don't lift the lid unless you absolutely have to.

    ** Before you lift the lid, close the intakes for a couple of minutes then open them up when you put the lid back on.

    ** When yoiu lift the lid to do something, get in, get the job done, get out, and put the lid on as quickly as possible.

    ** If you need to do something to the meat that is going to take a little time, like foiling, take the meat, (or the entire grate) out, and set it on a work table and put the lid back on while you're doing your thing.

    If I think of anything else, I'll add it.

    Hope this helps.

  4. cigarbque

    cigarbque Smoke Blower

    ^That is some great info. Keep 'um comming folks.
  5. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    When using your UDS, does anyone use some type of catch pan for the ash that falls from the basket, or do you just let it fall to the bottom of the barrel and clean it out later?

    It's also obvious that fat/juice that drips from the meat, if the meat is centered over the charcoal, is going to drip onto the charcoal, where it burns, becoming part of your fuel supply. Don't know if that creates an additional mess below the charcoal, or is just burnt and goes away?
  6. geek with fire

    geek with fire Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I've been placing a metal plate over my basket lately. The drippings still burn up giving you the flavor, but they don't start a grease fire.

    And, I concur with those who mentioned above: DDave's post has some of the best UDS info I've been able to find.
  7. ddave

    ddave Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    You can let it fall to the bottom of the drum. I did the first time I used mine. That was also the last time I let that happen. It was a real paon to clean. Many people use a cheapo pizza pan or something. I use a cheapo table top grill. There like $5 at ACE hardware stores.

    I drilled holes in mine that line up with the intakes and put bolts on it as well to help keep it centerd. This isn't necessary but one time I had it slide over and block one of the intakes. Must have gotten a little carried away when I was "shaking the drum" to jiggle the ash loose.

    Some extra fat may make it through the charcoal to the pan but that's why it's nice to have the pan. Makes cleanup much easier.

  8. hog warden

    hog warden Smoking Fanatic

    I've been thinking that something laid over the basket would be a good idea. When I picked up the expanded metal for the basket, I also grabbed a few scraps of drops of smaller sized stuff (1/2 inch or so) that I was going to try laying over the basket. More of a heat/smoke diffuser than "flavor bars" to burn the grease, but it's along the same line of thinking.

    I'll keep my eyes open for a bottom ash pan.
  9. rickw

    rickw Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    No ash pan and no buffer here. I tried a water pan once and didn't like how it kept temps down and used more fuel than normal.
  10. phreak

    phreak Meat Mopper

    the beauty of the UDS is in it's simplicity.
  11. smokin' dick

    smokin' dick Smoking Fanatic

    I just started my first drum this afternoon, and I made up the charcoal basket first since that is where most of the work is. I used the top of a 30 gallon drum as an ash catcher. Attached it to a charcoal grate with 3 1/2" bolts and some expanded metal for the surround. Added an aluminum handle to make lifting the whole thing out easier. I did not have a chance to get a pic of it yet, but will post something tomorrow in a new thread. Look for the title :
    Redneck Easter Basket.
  12. burgs95

    burgs95 Newbie

    Here's my observations:

    - jam a ball of foil into the main valve a few minutes before opening. This will allow you to keep the same setting/opening on the valve.

    - opening will cause temp spikes and defeats the purpose of a stable UDS. I spritz from a whole in the side, ,covered with a magnet.

    - the UDS will cook faster, but don't go by meat temps alone. I've had meat read 200 deg, but not be done. Always go with the toothpick test.

  13. cigarbque

    cigarbque Smoke Blower

    Thanks Chris, this got off topic for a bit. I have cooked two solid weekends so far on my new UDS. I will cook again this weekend. So far I like it but my BGE is much more stable with temps. It seems I need to monitor my drum all the time. It does have more room and it was fun to build. I just need to get a feel for it and get it dialed in.

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