Well folks, my journey to building my UDS (Black Magic) and smoking my first brisket was a long and arduous one. But allow me to report the good and bad findings derived from my first smoking experience.
First the good.
Building the UDS was easy. The hardest part, by far, was the construction of the fire basket. I ended up just paying a local metal shop to weld it for me. They also welded an axle on which I attached replacement lawnmower wheels. That worked great.
The smoking experience worked flawlessly. I loaded 15 lbs of charcoal and lit her with the minion method easily. She settled at 225 after capping two of the three nipples and choking down the ball valve. She stayed at 225 all day -- which is simply amazing. I used three chunks of hickory for the smoke. My UDS poured smoke out the chimney all day. Perfect.
Now the not so good.
This first experience was an 11-pound center-cut brisket. Probably not smart to start with such an intimidating piece of meat. Everything I've read indicated that at 225, I can expect an hour or so per pound to get to my desired temp (which was 180-190 range). Sooooo -- 11-pounds = approximately 11 hours of smoking. Right?
Dinner was called for 6pm (I had family coming over). I woke up at 5:30am (Yes, on a Sunday). Got Black Magic chugging along. By 6am, she was settling nicely around 240 on her way back down to 225. I put my room-temperature brisket on at 6:15, and went back to bed for a few hours. My thinking -- 11 hours of smoking will get me to roughly 5pm. I'll have an hour to let the meat rest, and then on with the festivities.
Well folks, at 1pm I went to turn the brisket and decided to start taking meat-temps. I inserted the probe, and was shiocked to see an internal temp of 165! What??? I was planning on taking the meat off at 175 around 5pm-- but how could this be? At 1pm I was almost done cooking an 11 pound brisket! I double checked the UDS temp at grate level, and sure enough she's reading 225. What in holy hell was happening here?
By 2pm it was official. I had to get the brisket off the smoker. She was at 180 and I did NOT want to overcook this succulent morsel. I took it off, wrapped tightly in foil, and fretted about what to do -- it was still 4 hours til dinner! I remembered a post on here where someone suggested wrapping the foiled brisket in towels and sticking in a cooler in this situation -- which is exactly what I did. I don't like the idea of meat being off the heat for hours, lest it go bad, but I was in a pinch!
Well, the brisket was still warm when I started cutting it at 6pm. And while it was ok, it was NOT the succulent delight I had expected. It didn't have the bark I was looking for. And the meat was dry in parts. Aghast!! It was tasty -- but not "BBQ Brethren" caliber.
So, I'm left wondering how my UDS somehow defied the laws of Physics by cooking so quickly even at low temps. I don't believe the temp probe is broken because I know what 225 feels like, and it seemed right on.
Any thoughts on how you can talk me off the UDS cliff would be appreciated.