Knows what a fatty is.
Join Date: 09-27-13
Location: Murphys, Calif
1st cook,new UDS
'I'm new to this forum, what an amazing resource it is, So glad to have found it.
I'm not new to cooking in a barrel, Seems most old timers here in Calaveras County own one; The local Volunteer Fire Dept has had "Chicken in a Barrel" fund raisers every year, at least since I was in high school, and that was 40 years ago.
But, my old barrel, at 10 years old, is showing its age. The bottom finally rusted through. Not really a problem, just cut out off the bottom and placed an pan under it, set the charcoal basket on top. But still...
There was no way to regulate the air flow, at least to the point of maintaining a temp for any period of time. We had a door cut through the side to add briquets, or smoke wood, and either 3 or 4 lengths of rebar, from which the chicken would hang of SS hooks. My fire basket is an old rim off a VW, with pieces of rebar welded on the bottom for an air gap. I added eye bolts to it, so I could use a grill, to cook fish or ribs, about the time I got my first Weber kettle. When beer butt chicken showed up, we decided to try it with a turkey, and thats when I used the weber kettle dome lid for the first time. The barrel cooker and a Weber Kettle are a natural combo.
So, in looking for ideas on how to regulate airflow, I found the UDS and the BBQ Brethren, maybe a week ago, got a couple barrels and built my first one today.
Did my first cook in it, did some Chicken, rubbed with lemon juice and Season-All, the first seasoning salt I ever used, only seemed right, it has always been the way, and first meat I cook in a new barrel. With the temp peaked at 375, but that was enough, and I had enough heat left to do 4 huge Portabella mushrooms, and a foil package of Italian squash. Everything turned out great.
I made a slight tweak or two. In hopes of getting that high temp of my old style barrel, I used 4 of the 3/4" intakes. I did not install the risers on the intake, or gate valve. I also drilled 8 holes, for exhaust, just under the rim. No water can enter, as I do barrel in the rain. It also allows me to retain the ability to hang meat to cook. It lets me cook 7 whole chickens at a time, if needed, and nearly as many Tri tips.
I did not install the risers on the intake, or gate valve. BBQ'i why I did not. Guess I'm short enough, its not too much of a reach. The temp only peaked at 375, but that was enough, but I'd like a little more. One likely cause, my old fire basket only holds about 7 lbs of briquets. I'll try it with the full sized basket, and see what my temps will peak at, before I start cutting more air intake holes.
I used the method discussed here, to light mine off. Used a dozen lit briquets to ignite my pile. It took longer then I was used to, to get up to temp, so I'll probably try a whole chimney full next time. I'm thinking as long as I have that intake air regulated, I'll be ok. I played with capping the intakes, seemed like it was a 20 degree drop/increase, on or off. Is this what you all see?
Anyway, very happy with the UDS, going to make another one this week. Got a little get together on the 19th, got a bunch of chicken to cook, so I need a couple more barrels. Thank you for reading, and for any advice you maybe be able to pass along.