MES First Impressions / Need Suggestions New2Q

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by fmcowboy, Jul 3, 2009.

  1. Hey all. I am a newbie on the forum. For Father's Day ,my wife got me that nice looking MES 40" model w/ window at Sam's. I have used it twice and am ready for 3rd time tomorrow. Here is my experience so far:

    Father's Day - Smoked Ribs n Chicken thighs
    Method: smoke temp 225-235, soaked hickory woodchips and added as manual directed. Did soak in water & apple juice mxiture which imparted some appple flavor. (thought of this my self, figured it couldn't hurt)
    Ribs were darn near perfect. Pros: Cooked to perfection,follow Chatham Artillery method, flavorful. Cons: No smoke ring, very little smoke flavor
    Chicken was pretty good. Good flavor, skin not that crispy but not rubbery. Did chicken 2 ways, one brined, the other injected & marinated. Did not notice mositure difference, both moist. To combat the rubbery skin, I pulled chicken off smoker when temp hit 150, put in convection oven (flavorwave) to crisp up, then glazed n back in smoker.
    Pros: cooked well Cons: not much smoke flavor, skin not crispy but better than the rubbery that I have heard about.

    Week 2 - Smoked Pork Butt for pulled pork
    Method: Injected not brined. smoked at 225-240. After reading here I wanted to attemp the elusive smoke ring. I soaked some hickory chips and hickory chunks and got soem hardwood lump charcoal. Started with 2 large chunks of charcoal and 2 soaked hickory chunks and 1/2 C soaked hips. Added chips n chunk every 40 minutes or so along with some small charcoal.
    Pork Butt: The pork butt stalled for 3 hours when it hit 152 degrees so I hade to pull off smoker at 194 degrees instead of 200 as I wanted as it was 7:30pm n family was still waiting to eat. I will say it was one of the tastiest pulled prok we ever had. Left overs have been even better. I tried a couple of finishing sauces (vinegar based) and they ruined the flavor, best wihout any mixed in. Great smoke flavor. Oh and about the smoke ring..........not a hint, sigh.......
    Pros: Excellent flavor, perfect smoke flavor, good bark Cons: no smoke ring, long stall

    4th of July Plan - Ribs 2 Ways
    Method: Replicate 1st ribs from Fathers day with minor variant, aslightly sweter finihing sauce based upon feedback. Try to get more smoke flavor & smoke ring. 2nd rack will be a new twist and I'll mak it up as I go. Planning to do an asian rack. Homemade rub with ginger and finish glaze with hiosin,honey, and sriacha chili sauce (for a small bite)
    smoke method: will smoke at 225, will add 4 charcaal briquettes and 2 soaked woodchuncks and some soaked woodchip while heating up, then add a briqutte, chunk, n chips once per hour. See if I get more smokiness in meat and the smoke ring. Will also put ribs on cold from fridge as I heard that may help.


    Well, hope you have enjoyed my adventures so far as I have loved reading yours. If anyone has some feedback or help on some of my issues please reply. If you have any more questions on my methods or story I'll be glad to answer. Thanks

    FM
     
  2. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I understand the wish for a nice smoke ring, it adds eye appeal but little else. The smoke ring does not add to the flavour. I read somewhere on here that electrics just do not produce a smoke ring because you need some nitrogen type gas ( I don't know the exact type ) which is present in charcoal and propane but doesn't occur with electrics. I know my Cobb Charcoal cooker gives me an awesome ring as does my gasser but the MES not so much. The flavour is good in all three types of my smoker but the meat from the Cobb has the best eye appeal.

    For the problem of not enough smokey flavour I'd mix a little hickory or even a small amount of Mesquite in with the other wood till you get the taste and strength your looking for. Keep the smoke going thru the whole smoke.

    Sounds like your well on your way so far.
     
  3. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Might want to not soak the wood chips, most here don't. The theory being you have to dry them out first. Make sure you check every thirty to forty minutes on the wood chips.

    The MES only makes smoke when the heating element is on, so if your smoking in the sun on a hot day you made need to set it so the door is about 1/2 inch open.
     
  4. Sounds like you are doing great. I have read on here that if you have to have a smoke ring the best way is to rub some morton's tender quick (I think) on your meat and then wash it off prior to smoking it. This will produce a smoke ring for you to admire.

    My BIL has the same MES and we have both noticed that his finished product does produce a lot lighter smoke flavor than my cookshack. He is continually adding wood to his.
     
  5. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a 1 year old Sams 40" MES.
    For ribs I use Hickory, I start with small soaked pieces (see 1st image).
    BTW soaked chips start producing smoking in a couple of minutes like 2 to 3.

    I start with hand full of small chips and 2 briquettes. About 20 or 30 minutes later I add soaked 3 or 4 chunks about 1x1". My chucks last year came from a bag that had a lot of misc sizes, so I pull the chip tray completely out and add the chunks using tongs, then reinsert tray, making sure the chunks don't jam the tray and prevent open/close. This combo will get about 1 hour. Continue smoke adding mostly chunks. If for some reason the wood dies, start again with small chips and just repeat the process. Using charcoal though you won't have that problem. Frankly you can skip the charcoal part entirely as I can't say that it really adds anything.

    As for smoke ring, you bought an electric smoker, they don't produce the ring, search my name there is a huge discussion on this and how to produce a ring. As already mentioned, the ring has nothing to do with flavor.

    Regarding amount of smoke flavor. KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED! Your 2 smokes prior to the 4th is exactly what I did with my new MES, and on the 4th I did 10 racks of ribs both BB and Spare. Those 1st two smokes I kept peaking and squirting with apple juice, like I used to do on my weber kettle.
    Your MES has a water pan, the water pan keeps the cooking chamber moist, there is no need to open the MES and spritz your meat. On the 4th I only opened the MES after 3.5 hours and pulled the ribs completely out, put em in alum foil and gave good good spritz of apple juice and left light pool of liquid so the ribs would steam in the foil. SO DO NOT OPEN HATCH UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! BTW my nephew is who loves to grill-bbq, said about the ribs, you can really notice the deep smoke flavor. I finished off the ribs on grill with sauce.

    I like your asian flavor ideas, I have been wanting to do the same myself, but I will have to wait to experiment on myself. I am doing 8 racks, 6 BB & 2 spare for this years 4th.

    You will discover how little wood is really necessary to get a nice smoke flavor. While some may say more is better, you really have to be careful with the MES because a lot of wood will result in a dirty smoke which is the sign of creosote, and that is one flavor you really want to avoid. I only use about a handful of chips or about 3/4 cup if only using chips for an hour.

    Good luck with your new MES, it sounds like you are having lots of fun with it and getting some good Q.
    [​IMG]
     
  6. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I have a 1 year old Sams 40" MES.
    For ribs I use Hickory, I start with small soaked pieces (see 1st image).
    BTW soaked chips start producing smoking in a couple of minutes like 2 to 3.

    I start with hand full of small chips and 2 briquettes. About 20 or 30 minutes later I add soaked 3 or 4 chunks about 1x1". My chucks last year came from a bag that had a lot of misc sizes, so I pull the chip tray completely out and add the chunks using tongs, then reinsert tray, making sure the chunks don't jam the tray and prevent open/close. This combo will get about 1 hour. Continue smoke adding mostly chunks. If for some reason the wood dies, start again with small chips and just repeat the process. Using charcoal though you won't have that problem. Frankly you can skip the charcoal part entirely as I can't say that it really adds anything.

    As for smoke ring, you bought an electric smoker, they don't produce the ring, search my name there is a huge discussion on this and how to produce a ring. As already mentioned, the ring has nothing to do with flavor.

    Regarding amount of smoke flavor. KEEP THE DOOR CLOSED! Your 2 smokes prior to the 4th is exactly what I did with my new MES, and on the 4th I did 10 racks of ribs both BB and Spare. Those 1st two smokes I kept peaking and squirting with apple juice, like I used to do on my weber kettle.
    Your MES has a water pan, the water pan keeps the cooking chamber moist, there is no need to open the MES and spritz your meat. On the 4th I only opened the MES after 3.5 hours and pulled the ribs completely out, put em in alum foil and gave good good spritz of apple juice and left light pool of liquid so the ribs would steam in the foil. SO DO NOT OPEN HATCH UNLESS ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY! BTW my nephew is who loves to grill-bbq, said about the ribs, you can really notice the deep smoke flavor. I finished off the ribs on grill with sauce.

    I like your asian flavor ideas, I have been wanting to do the same myself, but I will have to wait to experiment on myself. I am doing 8 racks, 6 BB & 2 spare for this years 4th.

    You will discover how little wood is really necessary to get a nice smoke flavor. While some may say more is better, you really have to be careful with the MES because a lot of wood will result in a dirty smoke which is the sign of creosote, and that is one flavor you really want to avoid. I only use about a handful of chips or about 3/4 cup if only using chips for an hour.

    Good luck with your new MES, it sounds like you are having lots of fun with it and getting some good Q.
    [​IMG]
    Note: used image only to show chip size, not ad for this company.
     
  7. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    sorry for double post, this is what happens when you get 5 phone calls during the posting process........
     
  8. thanks for the replies. I was getting good smoke the whole time, just not a lot of smoke flavor when I did the ribs. The butt had a good smoke flavor. I will try the 4 briquettes and few wood chunk version tomorrow. If still no smoke ring then I won't worry about it anymore.

    I did invent me what seems like a kick arse asian rub tonight. I;ll let you know how the finished product comes out after tomorrow.

    One more question. So you use the water pan? I have used teh first 2 times but always burns out. How much do you add at the begining and how full do you keep it?

    FM
     
  9. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    One more question. So you use the water pan? I have used teh first 2 times but always burns out. How much do you add at the begining and how full do you keep it?

    You should always use the water pan for temp stability. Full in the beginning. On a long smoke you may need to refill.
     
  10. gnubee

    gnubee Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have the smaller MES and I the fill the water pan with boiling water right at the start before the meat goes in. I use a long necked watering can to pour it in right to the top almost overflowing. I have done 10 hour smokes so far in my MES and have not run out of water nor do I need to top it up.

    I found out the hard way not to move the MES after you add the water because it will slop out and onto the wood which believe me taints the meat with a creosote flavour and smell of wet ashes.

    I usually run My MES at 230f . I run the top vent wide open all the time except at the initial start-up when I have it closed off fully. It heats up quicker this way Electricity doesn't need air flow. Don't forget to open it up all the way once the meat is loaded and you add the wood for the first time.

    Note in the MES if you see even a teensy bit of smoke coming from the vent that means the interior of the smoker is full of smoke. More than you realize. It is amazing to me how little wood you go through with the MES and still get a really nice penetration of the smoke as compared to my Charcoal smoker or My Gasser that use far more wood for the same results.

    Peeking is the #1 sin when using the MES and once you have the confidence not to do that, then your well on the way to mastering it.

    Disclaimer.....I could be wrong I suppose .... It hasn't happened so far ..... but I suppose however unlikely it is remotely possible.
     
  11. smokeguy

    smokeguy Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I use the water pan too for the same reasons RonP said- temperature stability. It also protects the meats on the bottom shelf at least from getting overly toasty since the water pan blocks the direct blast of heat from the element, at least if you keep the meat over the pan.

    I usually fill it up about 1/2-3/4 usually because if you put the meat directly on the shelves and don't use a pan to catch the drips, then a lot of those drips will drop into the water pan. It smells great, but if you're doing a ton of butts or pastrami where the meat is either fatty or injected like they are, the pan will continue to fill up and will overflow. Not a big deal since you have the drip tray on the bottom and the pan in the back, but it does take remembering to check the tray on the back and empty as needed.

    And like mentioned, you can add more water as needed which you may or may not even have to do- I usually don't.
    I also use fire bricks if I'm not doing a big load, especially when it's cold outside. I'll stick one on the bottom tray on the left and some on a shelf as needed to help keep the heat inside more stabilized.
     
  12. Ok. I will go with 2/3 full pan of hot water. So for the ribs are we saying to not to open after 2 hours and spray with apple juice? I got those babies going now. 1 rack asian , 1 rack traditional, all teh trimmings with somewhat traditional concoction I made. How long does it take to cook the spare rib trimmings? I dont want to overcook em.

    Happy 4th to all and Thanks to all the service men & women out there maintaining our Independence!!!!
     
  13. Hope the picture attached. Ribs came out great. I wasn't expecting to really have a smoek ring, but there it was. I kind of got tipped off when we snacked on some of the trimmings half way through the cook and could see that magical pink. Whenever I smoke again I will try the same method and see what happens. I think I will find it will be hit or miss. We'll see.
    [​IMG]
     
  14. grinder

    grinder Smoke Blower

    I use sand instead of water. Leave the sand an inch from top and cover with heavy foil. Makes clean up easier
     
  15. smokeguy

    smokeguy Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I'll basically wrap the water pan in foil before I put water in it. That keeps the thick black stuff on the bottom of the pan that builds up over the burner on the foil, and the grease ring on the inside on the foil - - so the foil is tossed and very little cleanup left for the pan. Same with the inside drip tray except where the drain is.
     
  16. Yeah thats what I learned on my 3rd smoke in the MES and worked great. No mess. I wrap the drip pan too.

    FM
     
  17. dom

    dom Newbie

    This has been a really informative thread, thanks!

    Here's what I've been doing with my MES.

    I wrap the waterpan with water and fill to mostly full with water. I start up the MES with about 5-6 charcoal briquettes, and let it come to temp for about 30min-1hour. (I think the charcoal briquettes help to stabilize the temps a little, and keep the chips burning when the element is cycling off).

    At that point, I add woodchips (I've been using woodchips for now, plan to switch to chunks eventually), and then add the meat.

    I do not open the MES unless I need to.

    I add a handful of chips about every 30-40 mins, and one charcal briquette about every hour.

    I've got great tasting meat, but not much smoke ring.

    FMcowboy- What exactly did you wind up doing on your last smoke?

    Thanks again guys!
     
  18. Ok here goes:

    To get the smoke ring (still think I got lucky) this is what I did. 3rd time smoking was the charm. I have to try again to see if I can duplicate.

    Water pan wrapped in foil, then filled 2/3 full. In the wood pan, I placed 4 charcoal briquettes (right outta bag) plus 3-4 hickory chunks (approx. 1x1x2") each, and half cup of hickory chips to get it going quick. All wood was soaked overnight. I soak in half water/half apple juice mixture. Placed wood box back in smoker and turned on for 1 HR before meat goes in. Got a nice heavy smoke. Kept temps around 230 deg. Spiked here and there but was fine.

    For the ribs, coated with yellow mustard, I put the rub on, then back in fridge for about an hour or so. Put the meat in smoker cold out of the fridge as I read somewhere. When the smoke was coming out light, I added a couple of chunks, 1/2-1/3 cup of chips,(every 40 minutes approx.) to keep a heavy smoke. Every 80 minutes or so, I threw a briquette in. Smoked ribs 2 hours, opened smoker, sprayed with apple juice, smoked another hour, flipped ribs (bone side up, wrapped in heavy foil, sprayed with apple juice, back in smoker for another hour. Unwrapped, glazed with sauce, meat side up cooked for 30 minutes, reglaze, cook another 30 minutes. Remove, let rest 5-10 minutes. Cut dem bones!!! And what did I see?????? The elusive smoke ring!!! I did get an early indication when after a couple fo hours, I pulled off the spare rib trimmings (tasty morsels), and I could see some faint pink on the small pieces.

    Anyway, I hope this helps. I am very intersted in smoking some more meat and seeing if I follow the same method and if I get the same result. I have smoked 4 weekends in a row. Made my first ABT's last weekend. They were yummy. I am taking off from smoking teh next couple of weekends as we will be outta town. I'll let everyone know next time if I get the ring again.

    FM
     

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