Put that in your barrel and smoke it!
Here in Texas we do quite a bit of smoking – well at least the meat kind.
I have enjoyed the milder weather, (this week during the first part of December it’s 65-74 degrees) and the enthusiasm that Texans have for a good brisket. It certainly is catching!
We happen to have a few metal drums. One is set to be a burn bin once we find our new property and the other – well, it is just sitting around looking lonely. I’ve found a good use for it and I just love the name – The Ugly Drum Smoker (UDS).
The ugly drum smoker is one of the easiest smokers to use. This smoker is truly a “set and forget” device – your only real concern will be occasionally tending to the meat. Once the charcoal has been lit and added, the smoker can easily cruise for 10-20 hours, holding a steady low temperature. The drum is large enough to fit two to three packer briskets and at least four pork shoulders, so it can feed quite a few people. Best of all, it can be built for well under $200, if you are up to building it yourself.
Where can you get used drums? Just take a look at Craigslist in your area or Google it. That’s where we’ve always found ours. For the best results, you are looking for a new drum with no liner.
Many people insist on finding a free 55-gallon drum that might have been used to hold anything from soda syrup to formaldehyde. When you buy a new drum (for only about $70) you have the benefit of knowing it wasn’t used for anything toxic, and exactly what type of lining, if any, is inside the drum. Drum liners are chemical liners that are very difficult to remove, requiring not only burning at high heat but also intense mechanical scrubbing. To avoid this, buy a new drum with no liner. The only thing inside of a new drum should be a mild rust inhibitor that can be easily burned out with a propane torch at the same time you are removing the original exterior paint.
The general plan for building an ugly drum smoker is to buy a 55-gallon steel drum and burn the paint off the exterior. Once the paint is burnt off you’ll drill various holes around the drum and lid for hardware placement, air intake control, and exhaust. The bolts will hold the cooking grate; the air intake consists of plumbing fittings, such as a ball valve and pipe nipples with caps, to allow you to control air flow. The exterior of the drum will be painted with a high-heat-tolerant spray paint. Charcoal is held in a “no-weld” charcoal fire basket made from expanded steel, a charcoal grate, and hex bolt legs.