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LiveSimple 05-03-2010 03:08 PM

Help! My first smoking experience!
I just bought a UDS this weekend and tomorrow will be my first time ever actually smoking meat. I here are some initial thoughts and questions:

I plan on lighting the smoker using the minion method can this be done without a coffee can?

After dumping in the chimney on my other coals do I close the lid or shut it and open the valves or close them?

How much hickory should I put on the coals and where should I put the chunks?

I have a six pound brisket slab and a 8 pound butt how long should I smoke them? At what point should I flip the brisket? What point do I foil them? Do I leave the foil open, cracked or sealed?

Do I sauce the meats mid way through the smoke?

If you see anything i'm forgetting please tell me! Thanks a ton!

dgassaway 05-03-2010 03:16 PM

Put the brisket in the freezer and the butt in the refrigerator for use later on. I think your asking for trouble starting off with both of those not yet knowing how your drum acts.

Make a fatty or two and smoke them first, this will let you get the feel for your drum and how it reacts to changes, etc.

Once your comfortable with that then smoke the butt, then smoke the brisket. The brisket is not as forgiving as the butt and easier to mess up so I'd wait until you have a few cooks under your belt before tackling it.

Not trying to discourage you but you're jumping in with both feet before you even learned to tread water.

Good luck! Keep us posted.

landarc 05-03-2010 03:22 PM

What DC says above is better advice than I am giving. But now you have two answers.

I can't help you with everything there, but...

For smoke, I would use three to four chunks of hickory, about fist sized or the equivalent of smaller or larger chunks. Many times beginning smokers put too much wood in. You can always live with too little smoke, too much becomes inedible.

Since you are doing them together (I assume) it will be somewhere around 8 hours for the brisket and 12 hours for the butt at 225F to 250F. Of course, the over-riding thing is it will be done when it is done, it could be more or less.

I am a fat down brisket guy, no flipping. With butts, put them in, bone side down, no flipping. I use no foil at all.

I do not sauce until I serve with pork, unless I have screwed up, I never sauce brisket.

N8man 05-03-2010 03:42 PM

This is the advice I give to first time DrumHeads in Training....

First and foremost is, making sure that the Lid fits
airtight so as not to have uncontrolled airflow.
Second is starting with a small amount of lit coals
And Third is to catch the target temp on the way up.
Not knowing what kind of gauge you are using to
measure temp, I will say that there is a 50*
difference in temp from the outside grate to the middle of the grate.
This is how I manage mine:
I start 13 Briqs in the Chimney...
Once they ash over good I add to my
fire basket that's been filled with unlit Charcoal, mixed with a few fist sized chunks of hickory or cherry, somewhere around
the top middle of the pile....Like this....
I have all intakes open up to 190*
Once at 190* I close two intakes almost entirely. leaving about a 1/8" crack, I use magnets to control air flow.
With the third intake I choke it down by at least half and watch my temp gauge.
I let it settle in around 200* on the gauge,
knowing that the center of the grate is actually 250*
I'll let it burn like this for 30 minutes while I prepare the meats to go on..
During the settling in, I can tell how the Drum is responding to the airflow and whether I need to throttle up or down the intake..

Once I load up the Pit I'll check it in 30 minutes to see how it is responding..and make adjustments accordingly...
You have to be patient with it as it will take it's sweet time to respond to minor adjustments, but once it settles in to your target temp, it will cruise forever, you just need to limit the time that you take the lid off, which means if you're looking, you ain't cooking...
And give it a good bump every 5 hours or so to knock the ash down...

Remember, Relax and have fun with it....

KSims1868 05-03-2010 03:52 PM

I agree with Dgassaway!! WAIT on the brisket and butt.
I just started with my UDS and I am glad I'm learning at this pace with this smoker. 1st smoke - chicken drums and 1 whole chicken. Got a feel for it - smoked for 3 hours or so and felt good about it.
2nd smoke - chickens and 2 racks of ribs. Took a little more work and control - glad I practiced with chickens the week before. Smoked for 4-5 hours and could have gone longer (learning how much coal to use).

Next smoke (this weekend) will be 4 slabs of BB Ribs and maybe a pork butt - not sure yet on the butt, but the ribs for sure. Might do chicken again just to be sure I'm feeling confident in my control of the temps on my UDS.

Point being - start easy, so as not to get discouraged and waste a good hunk of meat. There's PLENTY of time to smoke the briskets and such...just learn the cooker before if you ask me.

1FUNVET 05-03-2010 04:16 PM

Take the advice of N8man.If you screw up the brisket and butt you may lose faith in the UDS and yourself.Try a fattie or 2 to get the hang of things.:thumb:

smokinbadger 05-03-2010 05:21 PM

I agree, try the fatties first. After you gain some confidence, try some back ribs. They cook fast compared to brisket and butts and you can hone your fire management skills.

Old Smoke 05-03-2010 06:40 PM

As 1 new smoker to another. This is a GREAT place to start, there are many experienced "pit masters" on this site that are willing to share their knowledge. Take the time to learn the personality of your drum, I DID NOT :doh:. As a result I failed the first 3 cooks that I attempted and was pretty "bummed" The results were overcooked and very dry (not good eatin') I made some changes to my barrel based on advice and info that I received here. Yesterday was the first time I fired up the drum since my failures. I had no confidence in the drum (or me) so I did not cook anything. I wasted some charcoal BUT I was able to maintain 225*-250* with the drum for 7 hours . :thumb: SO I am ready to cook my butt:-D on Wednesday.

BTW Welcome to our version of group therapy :-D Good Luck and keep us posted

KeythL 05-03-2010 06:50 PM

Come on in, the water's fine...
Take the tips to heart; but don't be afraid to fail, maybe do a two day smoke? Do the Butt first and use the lessons learned concerning temp control on your particular UDS when you do the brisket (every UDS behaves a little differently). Of course if things go badly (run away temps...leading to over charing the pork) you can take a step back (read cook some chicken).

I built my UDS two weeks ago, and I've already cooked 10 lbs of apple smoked teriyaki chicken thighs, a hickory smoked picnic shoulder, and just finished a pecan smoked Pastrami (from scratch). Hopefully you'll have as much fun with your UDS as I'm having with my new toy.

Biggest things to remember, catch the temp on the way up (don't let it get over 200 degrees before you try to dial it in). If you snuff it, just try again. Have it under control before you put your meat on...expect it to jump up while you're putting the meat'll come back down. As already stated, don't use too much smoke wood...a little goes along way. As for wrapping/not wrapping, you'll have to experiment over time to find out what you like(after all that's what it's all about). Do allow time for the meat to rest after you take it off the smoker.
Also, have the kitchen oven available for finishing if things get too out of control/you run out of fuel or don't want to add more mid cook, it can kick up ash and you don't want that on your prized BBQ(Butts & Briskets are longer smokes...your UDS might be a fuel never know...til you know).

Have fun!!! And let us know how it goes.


Keyth <---- :crazy: 4 BBQ

landarc 05-03-2010 06:52 PM

Never get discouraged guys, like any skill or real value, it takes time and patience, real patience, to cook good BBQ. A lot of the folks you see posting here have years, if not decades, of experience cooking over a live fire.

LiveSimple 05-03-2010 07:54 PM

Guys. I'm overwhelmed by your willingness to help. Great advice all around! To your chagrin I will try both the brisket and but tomorrow. The previous owner of my uds is a fellow bretheren he will be coaching me alng the way.

*****Follow up quesion is will someone help me understand, "catching temerature on the way up." examples? Experiences?

landarc 05-03-2010 08:00 PM

Once you start your smoker, it will build temperature, if left wide open it will climb into the 300plus range. If you watch the thermometer, there is a time when it will be just short of the temperature you want to cook at. For instance, 235F and you want to be at 245F, if you close up some of the intakes at that point, you can stop the rise just as you arrive at cooking temperature.

If you let it rise and ignite all of the coals, you have to damper down the temps and you will get dirty smoke and have a hard time controlling the temperature as too much fuel will be lit.

Old Smoke 05-03-2010 08:09 PM


Originally Posted by LiveSimple (Post 1270523)
Guys. I'm overwhelmed by your willingness to help. Great advice all around! To your chagrin I will try both the brisket and but tomorrow. The previous owner of my uds is a fellow bretheren he will be coaching me alng the way.

*****Follow up quesion is will someone help me understand, "catching temerature on the way up." examples? Experiences?

Catching the temperature, means shutting down the intakes BEFORE the temperature in the drum gets too high. It is dang near impossible to bring down. It will result in overcooked dry meat. I don't know why I know this. :redface:

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