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Sunday, May 4, 2008

My UDS so far...

This is my latest project....a Drum Smoker.
I started out with a barrel.

Added three 3/4" nipples with caps and a ball valve for air intake around the bottom of the barrel.....This system has been working great on my smokehouse.

The expanded metal coal grate sits on long bolts...above the air intake.
The grate is used to hold wood splits or the charcoal basket.

The cooking rack sits about 2 FT above the hot coal is supported by long bolts.

I burned the barrel and sanded it down, then added the thermometer.


The exhaust holes.....I drilled 8 holes for the exhaust, the plugs just screw right in.

I painted it with some high heat grill paint. I need to add a few things, but it is usable right now.

I added a simple table by using shelf brackets...

I had a piece of wood on hand and just rounded the edges and cut the curve out with my little hand held jig saw. Then sanded, stained and coated it with a weather protectant. Added hooks for hanging things..

I also made a coal basket that sits on the hot coal grate in the bottom of the cooker... I can fill the basket with about 8lbs of lump charcoal and it lasts for hours. So far I have not had to add more coal during a smoke.
Here is how I made the basket.... Hot Coal Basket

It's final resting place...

Some apple/olive smoked cornish game hens and twice baked potatoes

Ribs and scalloped tatoes on the drum...

Some homegrown bacon wrapped shrimp....

Surf and turf...crab legs, ribeye and corn....

More pictures of the drum.. My Drum in Action

I'm getting a lot of use out of the drum. :)
Wanted to add......
I've had a lot of inquiries as to where to find a food grade drum. One place to check might be Craigslist if you have that in your area.
Orchards are another option....
A friend from Michigan contacted me with info about his source. He has found good food grade barrels at an orchard. They were used for cherry concentrate. (Thanks for the info Mark!:))
I'd love to hear about any smokers folks build. Please feel free to contact me.


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cowgirl said...

Hi Craig,
There is no water bowl in the drum, one of the so called features of the drum is the flavor you get when the fat drips down onto the hot coals.
I've never had to add more coals during a cook. When you fill the coal basket completely or at least with 5 to 8 pounds of coal, they will last for hours. You can get a good 15 hr or more cook out of one basketfull. When you are finished, just close the air intakes and outlets to extinguish any remaining coals and use them next time.
The thermometer is a cheap one I got at walmart... can't remember the exact price but it was around $10 or so.

The metal grate at the bottom is a piece of expanded metal cut to fit the barrel.
Hope this helps ya, Good luck with your build!

Anonymous said...

What kind of coals do you use? Have you used wood before? If so, what type? I got charcoal and hickory wood chunks. I am going to smoke our turkey for Thanksgiving. Any advice?

cowgirl said...

Hi Craig,
I like to use regular charcoal briquets. Then use flavoring wood chips on top.
Turkeys will not take that long to smoke...not like a pork butt or brisket. You might be able to use your wood to make hot coals and hope they last long enough for the bird.

I prefer to butterfly or spatchcock turkeys to lay flat. Also the largest birds I smoke are 12-lbs... if I need more meat than that I get two birds.

Hope this helps Craig!!
Have a nice week. :)

Fumo Santo said...

Hey Cowgirl,

Firstly, I love reading all the posts on your site. You have a great list of folks asking some excellent questions, and your UDS is one of the coolest I've seen.

With that, I just completed work on mine, took it for a test run without any food in it to season it (held at 225 for 18+ hours), and I had just cooked up my first brisket yesterday with some issues.

I noticed that when cooking at 225, the brisket reached 180 within 3 hours. When I did pull it off (after inserting a probe without any resistance), after about 6 hours, the bottom was heavily charred.

I have my grate 24" off the coals, and I use the minion method for heating the coals. I'm wondering if I need a diffuser over the coals for more indirect heating? Possibly something like a perforated pizza pan, or a pizza stone that will evenly distribute the heat.

Any thoughts?

Thanks, and keep smokin!!

cowgirl said...

Thank you Fumo Santo, I appreciate you stopping by my blog.

Was this a full packer brisket or a flat? It sounds like it did cook fast at that temp.
If it happens again, I'd go ahead and wrap the brisket in foil at 180 and let it rest inside of an ice chest for a couple of hours. The brisket will continue cooking and the temp should raise close to 200F.
I've not needed a deflector in my drum... but when I do briskets, I place the fat side down. It does protect the meat a bit on the bottom.
I have talked to others who use deflectors and seem to like them. Then there are the old drum heads like me, that let the fat drip on the hot coals. lol
If you do give it a try, please keep me posted on how you like it.

Not sure if I've been of any help Fumo, but thanks again! :)

Johan van Niekerk said...

Hi Cowgirl,

Thanks for a fantastic site! :) I made one of these smokers today and is soooooooooo happy with the end result. Thanx a stack! I'm sure this is the first of your design in South Africa.

I did come up with a completely different design to regulate the airflow from the bottom. I'll send some pics if I can figure out where to send them to ;)


cowgirl said...

Hi Johan! It's nice to meet you. :)
So glad you like your smoker, I would love to see pics of it.
On the right side of my site, below my "about me or profile"...there is a link to contact me.
I would love to see how you made the air intake on yours.
Thanks Johan...and thanks so much for stopping by my blog. :)

OklahomaDave said...

That's really cool.
Great job!

cowgirl said...

Thank you Oklahoma Dave! I have used the heck out of the drum, still love it. :)

Unknown said...

I am the definition of a "newbie" when it comes to smoking. I was raised on Long Island and had NO CLUE what REAL BBQ was until I moved to NC a few years ago. I can't believe what I've been missing out on!

I came across your site and after looking at the directions, along with the reviews, I think I'm ready to try it. I have already located someone on Craigslist that is selling these barrels. (I think I'm equally excited about customizing this bad boy as I am about firing it up).

A few questions for you...first, how did you attach the thermometer to the barrel? Also, I read that you "fired" up the barrel before sanding it and painting it. I may sound really naive but do you mean you lit the barrel on fire??

I have a feeling this smoker is going to take me MUCH longer to build than most but I'm willing to learn and put in the time. Thanks in advance!


cowgirl said...

Hi Sabrina! I hope you build one of these, they really are handy to have and they almost watch themselves.
The thermometer I used came with a washer and nut for the I just drilled a hole in the drum, inserted the thermometer, placed the washer on and tightened it with the nut. It was an inexpensive thermometer, probably under $10..
When I "fired" the barrel. I used a weed burner to burn the inside and outside really well.
You can just build a fire with wood inside of the barrel and burn it that way. After burning you need to sand the barrel down to bare metal. When you are ready to use it for cookng, spray or rub the inside with lard or cooking oil and light a small fire with coals to season the barrel like cast iron. Then it's ready to use.

Hope you have good luck with it! Thanks for stopping by too. :)

Erik said...

I wrote here before but wanted to once again thank you for giving me so many ideas on how to build my own drum smoker. I had a quick question. I want to smoke some salmon in my smoker, but I am worried it will leave a fishy smell/taste on future meats. Have you smoked fish in your smoker, and if so, did it affect the taste or smell of meat you cooked later??

cowgirl said...

Hi Erik! Nice to see you again. :)
I do smoke fish in the drum. If it is "skin on" fish I just rub it with olive oil and season then lay it skin side down directly on the cooking grate.
If the fish is skinless, I like to oil, season and place it on a piece of foil or a cedar plank. (in case it flakes and falls through to the bottom of the drum).
I've had no problem with "fisy" smells in other foods. I do clean the grate well after cooking though.

Fish cooks pretty fast on the drum so I keep an eye on it. :)

Hope that answers your question, let me know if I didn't!
Have a great weekend! :)

Erik said...

That actually does answer my question, thank you so much! I was worried that the smell of fish would stick to the drum and put a weird smell or taste in the meat I cook afterwards. I mainly want to cook salmon, so I will be using foil. About how long should I let it cook for? I usually run my drum at 215.

Also, what other fish would you recommend? I enjoy breaded fried tilapia, not sure how good it would be smoked. Only thing I don't like about fish is the bones, so whatever I cook definitely cannot have bones. Since I was little crunching on a fish bone, no matter how thin they were, always grossed me out lol.

Thanks again!!

PS: I did some turkey legs with the seasoning under the skin and some oil on top, came out super good!!

cowgirl said...

Great to hear Erik, and your welcome. :)
The thickness and size of the fish make a difference. I just watch for moisture to form on the top of the fish, also do a fork test to see if the thickest part flakes.

I really like cod. It's kind of expensive sometimes but it's great on the smoker. I make fish tacos with it and top them with chipotle slaw. (the recipe is here somewhere. lol)
I have smoked catfish too but cod is my favorite.
I hear ya on the fish bones...kinda gross to deal with!
I tried some swai fish the other day, not on the grill but fried in a skillet. It was a mild fish and it didn't shrink up like most fillets do. I need to try it on the drum next.

Your turkey legs sound great! I will add them to my to-do list.
Thanks Erik,
Hope you're having a great weekend. :)

Erik said...

My weekend would be better if it wasn't 110 degrees here in Southern California. Friend of mine lives in Vegas and it was actually cooler there a couple of days ago. Something is wrong with the world when the heat in Vegas is less than So Cal lol.

I will definitely try cod. I already have a chipotle slaw recipe that I like with adobo chilis and a little lime. Never been a big fan of coleslaw but I really like this one.

As soon as the heat goes down, I wanna use my smoker again. Besides the fish, I am searching the internet for other new ideas. Kinda tired of always doing ribs and pork shoulders lol. Need something original!!

cowgirl said...

Hey Erik, my slaw uses chipotles in adobo and lime too! :)

Sounds like you're getting hammered by the heat too. Hope you get a break soon.

Good luck with your search for new stuff to cook. Hope you give cod a try too. :)

Thanks Erik! :)

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