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Q-talk *ON TOPIC ONLY* QUALITY ON TOPIC discussion of Backyard BBQ, grilling, Equipment and just outdoor cookin' in general, hints, tips, tricks & techniques, success, failures... but stay on topic. And watch for that hijacking.


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Unread 05-03-2011, 11:41 AM   #1
deerslayer8153
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Default First UDS Cook Advice Needed

Thanks to all the great threads here I am in the final stages of building my UDS and MIGHT have it ready by this weekend.

I was thinking about cooking either chicken or ribs for my first cook, after the seasoning burn.

Could I get a few basic/general ideas on what temp to cook at, roughly how long to cook and/or internal temp?

Thanks so much, this is a great place!
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Unread 05-03-2011, 12:30 PM   #2
KSims1868
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225-240* is where I keep it for my ribs.
If baby-backs you can expect about a 4 hour cook time. Some like to wrap them in foil for an hour...others don't. Some use sauce at the end...some don't. Practice and see what you like.

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Unread 05-03-2011, 12:32 PM   #3
deerslayer8153
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Thanks! That brings up another question about foiling. When people say they are "foiling" does that mean on the cooker?
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Unread 05-03-2011, 01:08 PM   #4
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yes on the cooker. look up the 3-2-1 method. three hours on the cooker without foil- 2 hours on the cooker wrapped in foil- then 1 hour on the cooker with out the foil. See how they turn out, if there a little mushy. adjust the foil time next cook. i run my uds around 225-250. good luck!
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Unread 05-03-2011, 01:16 PM   #5
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Some folks will wrap food in foil at some point during the cook, and others will never have foil on their pit. However, most people will wrap the meat in foil, then wrap it in a towel, then put it in a pre-warmed ice chest to rest.

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Unread 05-03-2011, 01:26 PM   #6
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Although ribs are one of my favorite things to cook, honestly....they're a bit challenging to perfect. If this is really going to be your first cook on the new drum, I'd recommend keeping it simple and trying a chicken.

For chicken, I like to cook at a bit higher temp. 325-350. Rub it down with EVOO, salt and pepper OR use your favorite rub. Put it on whole or spatchcocked (back cut out and opened like a book, skin side up), lay it on the grate and cook until 160 in the breast and/or 175 in the thigh. Sauce is optional for me, most times I don't sauce chicken.

If you're not familiar or don't want to mess with carving a whole, you could just do parts or quarters. May cook a bit quicker, but may not. This past Sunday, I did 2 bone in split skin on breasts, 6 legs and 2 boneless skinless breasts and they were all done at about 1.5 hours at 325 pit temp, but I had the drum loaded down with taters, corn on the cob too.

OR.....you could do both. I like my ribs cooked at 275-325, so you could just let the drum roll at 325. Ribs take about 4 hours for me at this temp, but chicken only takes 1-1.5 hrs. Adjust as needed for start/stop times.


Best advice I ever got here was NOT to overwhelm myself on the first few cooks. It's really easy to bite off more than you can chew. Keep it real simple, and you'll start the obsession off right.


Good luck!
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Unread 05-03-2011, 01:28 PM   #7
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To foil or not to foil. Generally when you read about foiling on these threads it's in regards to ribs. You can do some browzing and searching and you'll find tons of threads.

The 3.2.1 method for ribs: Cook for 3 hours naked, 2 hours wrapped in foil, 1 hour naked. IMHO foiling isn't necessary on a UDS.

Honestly tho, if this is your first UDS cook. K.I.S.S. Keep it simple....

Cheap, quick, hard to screw up... go with a whole chicken. Buy a whole chicken, rince, season lightly and load it up.

When I've seasoned new UDS I typically wash out the drum with hot and very mildy soapy water, rinse a couple more times, thoroughly dry. I spray the entire interior with a light coating of olive oil. Fire up a basket about half full of your choice of lump or briquettes, toss in a couple chunks of your choice of smoking wood (I prefer hickory and/or apple).

Work with the temps, adjust, babysit - find your UDS's particular quirks during this seasoning burn. If you've built a basic UDS from all the tons of intel here on the Brethren you should find a happy medium pretty quickly. Try to get your temp stable (I do 99% of my smoking at or about 230 degrees) and let it smoke.

Get that target temp dialed in and leave the thing alone! Don't lift the lid to peak, don't adjust things just to adjust things.

In my experience you're looking at about 1 inch of air intake on the bottom and 2 inches of exhaust on the top (assuming a 55 gallon drum). Remember to be sure your exhaust is always 150% or more of your intake. The natural process of heat rising with feed your fuel fresh air and the larger exhaust will keep things flowing in the right direction.

One thing to watch for that I don't always see mentioned? Wind direction. I usually make an effort to insure my air intake openning is on the opposite side of the UDS, shielded from any wind. This avoids having the wind pumping/forcing air and higher temps.

Once you've done a seasoning smoke/burn you'll know a bit better what to expect from your UDS during an actual cook.

Smoking a chicken for a first run is a simple and cheap option IMHO. I'd much rather screw up a 4.00 whole chicken than 20.00 worth of ribs.

My K.I.S.S. chicken:
Whole chicken, rinsed, patted dry with a couple paper towels (inside and out)
Season interior with black pepper. Spray interior and exterior of chicken with a light coat of Olive Oil. Lightly season outside with a little black pepper.
I keep it as simple as possible and let the smoking process bring the flavour not rubs or injections.
I generally smoke with applewood, although being in the midwest hickory is big here too.

I fill my charcoal basket about 50% with Kingsford briquettes and 50% Royal Oak lump. I prelight all my charcoal and lump til basically grayed, then choke by my temps in the UDS. Once I have a stable 230 degrees (generally only takes me 20 minutes or so too stablize) I add about 1/2 cup (a handful) of wood chips to the top of the charcoal.

Put in the cooking level grate, throw in the whole chicken breast side down. After about 1.5 hours I open up the UDS, throw on some food handling gloves and I flip the whole chicken over. Let it cook/smoke for another 1.5 hours.

Most of my K.I.S.S. chicken UDS smokes only take about 3 hours to complete, sometimes closer to 4 hours (depends on the size of the chicken).

Check the breast meat with a thermo: 165 is USDA done for poultry, altho I typically shoot for more of a 175.

IMHO the UDS is a sealed enough system that my K.I.S.S. chicken doesn't dry out cooked to 175. It's usually lightly smokey, fall apart done, and wonderfully/simply delicious.

Anyways - go with a bird. If you screw it up you can always take it inside and throw it in a pot, boil it til it falls apart and make some smokey chicken soup!
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Unread 05-03-2011, 03:01 PM   #8
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I would suggest you start with Boston Butts for your first cook. They are pretty forgiving and will give you a chance to "learn" your drum. I would try to keep the temps at 225-240 range until you get an internal temp in the 200 range. Even better until your probe goes in with no resistance. I then take it off, wrap it in foil and put in in a cooler for an hour or so. Cook time is usually 10-12 hrs but YUM YUM.
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Unread 05-03-2011, 05:38 PM   #9
deerslayer8153
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WOW! Great advice everyone, I appreciate it!

I guess I've spent more time here looking at how to build a UDS than how to cook. Time to learn to cook and ya'll have set me on a good start.
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Unread 05-04-2011, 04:04 PM   #10
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Can't go wrong with a couple fatties either. They are easy.
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Unread 05-04-2011, 04:33 PM   #11
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No reason not to cook something while you season it.
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Unread 05-05-2011, 01:00 PM   #12
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I agree with the above statements about ribs for the first cook on a newly constructed UDS. Every smoker will cook diferent to some degree, you need to get used to its temp range and how well it holds heat. A boston butt or picnic roast would be my first choice.
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