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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 06-02-2013, 10:30 PM   #1
wasilvers
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Default UDS newbie-first smoke questions

I built a flat top UDS this weekend following plans here. It has the 8 holes in the lid and 4 breather holes in the bottom. I've used an ECB since 2007 and played around with a Bandera (yes, I have one even in WI). And I built my own drum grill - just saying I'm not a total Newby. I assumed once I built the UDS, rainbows would appear, angels would sing, my temps would hold at 225 and everything I put on her would have half inch smoke rings.

NOW that I built it, burned it in, and seasoned her - I read on the wise world wide web (another site) something about using a diffuser for some meats (ribs) but not others? I did NOT build one with a diffuser. I used the search function and am still confused. I cook 3 things on my smokers, brisket, ribs, butts - in order of popularity with my family.

On to the questions:
1. Flipping meat - on my my ECB, I never flipped the meat. should I do this? How often? If I install some sort of diffuser, do I need to do this?

2. Rib rack or lay flat? I tried both on my ECB and liked the lay flat method, but then, do I have to flip the meat or just re-arrange on the smoker?

3. Why didn't I build one of these before? It was dang easy and does hold temp like no tomorrow.

4. First cook on her is this weekend - would you recommend briskets, butts or ribs?
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Unread 06-02-2013, 10:40 PM   #2
4uweque
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I do use a diffuser on everything I cook. It's very simple, I place a perforated pizza pan on top of my charcoal basket after I light it. I never flip anything I cook, I just lay my ribs flat. Honestly just cook whatever you want, it's a very easy cooker to use. Most importantly just use it and enjoy, the more you use it the more you will learn about it.
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Unread 06-02-2013, 10:44 PM   #3
Kloogee
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1. I never flip anything
2. I lay flat, but if you need the extra real estate to do lots 'o ribs, then go verticle
3. I said the same thing!
4. All three!
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Unread 06-02-2013, 11:52 PM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by 4uweque View Post
I do use a diffuser on everything I cook. It's very simple, I place a perforated pizza pan on top of my charcoal basket after I light it. I never flip anything I cook, I just lay my ribs flat. Honestly just cook whatever you want, it's a very easy cooker to use. Most importantly just use it and enjoy, the more you use it the more you will learn about it.
4uweque, I take it you use your diffuser because it evens out hot spots, but is there any disadvantage to using it? I was just wondering:

1) does just as much of the fat dripping down vaporize?
2) does radiant heat project up to the food from your kind of diffuser (just as it does from an uncovered fire)?
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Unread 06-03-2013, 01:00 AM   #5
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on the other side of things, there are no real advantages either. Un even heat in a UDS is nearly non existent. Maybe 10-15 degree difference, which is nothing. Mine is pretty well even across the board. Plus a diffuser takes away one of the main aspects of a UDS - cooking over open coals.

The bottom line is it doesnt need one, its meant to not use one, BUT, if you want you can use one, but its not going to change much.
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Unread 06-03-2013, 05:24 AM   #6
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1. I never flip on the UDS
2. I like to lay flat unless I need more room, then I use a rib rack
3. You will improve your design and build another
4. I like to start with butts, they are hard to mess up

Assuming your eight lid holes are evenly spread out, that should help alleviate any possible hot spots, this is the way I made mine and I prefer it over the one large exhaust. I am about to play around with adding a water pan to mine, but it is just experimenting. I would not worry about a diffuser plate unless you just wanted to tinker more.
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Unread 06-03-2013, 05:50 PM   #7
4uweque
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Quote:
Originally Posted by creekwalker View Post
4uweque, I take it you use your diffuser because it evens out hot spots, but is there any disadvantage to using it? I was just wondering:

1) does just as much of the fat dripping down vaporize?
2) does radiant heat project up to the food from your kind of diffuser (just as it does from an uncovered fire)?
In my cooker I found that the center of the grate ran 35 to 50 degrees hotter than the outside edges, a simple $5 pan fixed the problem. The pan is perforated and still allows drippings through. I guess the main thing is it works for me. It's cheap and easy.
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Unread 06-03-2013, 05:58 PM   #8
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The last batch of ribs I made on my UDS were good, but a little too smoky for my taste. I'm thinking it was due to too much of the vaporizing of the drippings. That was also a major issue I used to have when I had a BGE, but I digress. The next cook I do, I will use a 16" pizza pan I got at Walmart ($3.99) as a diffuser and drip catcher. I'm hoping this will help decrease the super smoky flavor I got from the last batch.

If your setup doesn't allow you to put a diffuser on top of your charcoal basket, you can add another grate just above the charcoal to put your diffuser on. The best cheap grate I found was $10.99 from Sears. It's not as sturdy as a Weber grate, but it's not flimsy like the grate from Walmart.

I like to lay my ribs flat because I like to sauce them lightly for the last hour. It's tougher to do that if they are in a rib rack. However, I have had good results with rib rack as well in my other cookers.
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Unread 06-03-2013, 06:46 PM   #9
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Firstly, congrats on the new UDS!
I use a $5 perforated pizza pan from Home Goods as a diffuser and, after some experimentation, now put a baking pan with liquid (usually Apple juice with some sliced oranges and onions) on that lower rack ( about 5 inches above the top of my coal basket). It seems to even out my temp around 240-250. I've never flipped my meat while cooking. First run was a butt as it doesn't take as long as a brisket and they seem a bit more forgiving. Wrapped in foil aft several hours as my wife doesn't enjoy too much smoke flavor.
Have fun and enjoy! Post pics of your initial endeavor.
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Unread 06-03-2013, 07:56 PM   #10
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My UDS likes to cruise at 270ish. I don't see a reason to cook any lower. If you are thinking 225 is the magic cooking number, it isn't. Don't be afraid to let that sucker breathe. It's not going to dry out your meat cooking at higher temps no matter what those meatheads say.
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Unread 06-03-2013, 08:30 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Ropo View Post
My UDS likes to cruise at 270ish. I don't see a reason to cook any lower. If you are thinking 225 is the magic cooking number, it isn't. Don't be afraid to let that sucker breathe. It's not going to dry out your meat cooking at higher temps no matter what those meatheads say.
SOooo true on all accounts!
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Unread 06-03-2013, 10:21 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by El Ropo View Post
My UDS likes to cruise at 270ish. I don't see a reason to cook any lower. If you are thinking 225 is the magic cooking number, it isn't. Don't be afraid to let that sucker breathe. It's not going to dry out your meat cooking at higher temps no matter what those meatheads say.
If I had to pick one temp to smoke at forever, it would probably be this. chickens be damned
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Unread 06-04-2013, 06:52 AM   #13
vafish
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No diffuser
Don't flip my meat, lay it in fat side down and let it rock
Do a pork but for your first cook they are very forgiving.
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Unread 06-04-2013, 07:17 AM   #14
Q*bert
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+1 for butt. It's the easiest to not screw up.
All the diffuser methods mentioned so far work great. A few months after I built mine, I decided I wanted more room & installed a second rack about 4 or 5 inches below the first. Now, if I'm only using the top rack, I'll put a drip pan or even just some foil on the lower rack to act as a diffuser. And if I'm using both, I'll use the perforated pizza pan method mentioned above.
Good luck & enjoy!
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Unread 06-04-2013, 11:02 PM   #15
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Thanks for the help. Pork butts it is.
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