Magazine article Sunset

Beef-in-a-Barrel Barbecue

Magazine article Sunset

Beef-in-a-Barrel Barbecue

Article excerpt

These unconventional steel barrel barbecues are ideal for large-scale barbecuing. In each barrel, you can took up to 40 pounds of beef roasts or 20 chicken halves at one time.

The barrel barbecues are relatively inexpensive, simple to make, and easy to transport to parks or campgrounds. Because you can cook a lot of food at once, they are especially popular with groups. In northern California, the California Cattlewomen's Association often cooks up to 600 pounds of beef at a time, using 15 barrels. The Jones County Volunteer Fire Department has made a specialty of barbecued chicken cooked in a barrel (see page 216). Where to get a barrel

Used steel barrels (also called drums) aren't hard to find. Check the yellow pages under Barrels & Drums or Steel Distributors & Warehouses. Ask for a 50-to 55-gallon steel drum with removable lid. Check to see that the lid fits tightly (to eliminate heat loss during cooking) and, if possible, select one with a 2-inch threaded pouring hole in the lid.

Be sure the drum is either clean or reconditioned. Never sue a barrel that has contained pesticides or other poisonous substances (it should have a skull and crossbones or an equivalent warning painted on the side). Expect to pay $20 to $25 for a barrel. You'll find the other items readily available at a home improvement center. Making the barbecue, with help or do-it-yourself

The easy way out is to take your barrel to a welding shop and have them cut out the bottom, make the side and lid vent holes, and weld the handles to the lid. We found welding shops charge from $20 to $45 for this work. You'll still have to make the vent covers and mount the grill yourself.

If you have the time, muscle, and a few tools, you can do the complete job yourself. Besies the barrel, you'll need a hammer, 3/4-inch cold chisel, metal file, electric drill with 1/4- and 3/4-inch high-speed bits, heavy-duty metal shears or saber saw, two 6-inch metal gate handles with bolts and nuts, two 1/2- by 34-inch lenghts of steel rod (steel reinforcement bars work well), two 1-1/2- by 8-inch metal straps, four 1/8- by 1-1/2-inch stove bolts with nuts, about 24-1/8-inch washers, and two round ends cut from a 1-pound food can. …

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