New Cabelas Magnum Pellet Grill....and Not Real Happy

Discussion in 'Pellet Smokers' started by swampmouse, Aug 22, 2016.

  1. swampmouse

    swampmouse Fire Starter

    Well, I was super excited when my new Cabelas Magnum Pellet Grill arrived last week. It is made by Camp Chef, and has some really nice features!

    It went together in about an hour and a half. Easy peasy, and everything was packaged nicely inside.

    The thing is GIANT which is precisely why I bought it. Looks like i should easily be able to get a dozen butts in at once or maybe 9 butts and 2 racks of ribs.....anyway

    I know one of the common complaints is a lack of a smokey flavor with ANY pellet grill, but i did not think that would be a problem, as i don't like my meat as smokey as some.

    My first cook on the first night was a 10 lb. picnic because it was on sale. The second night was a butt i pulled out from the freezer.

    This is was what i noticed on the meat (and I am coming from a MES 30 for years now):

    - I cooked for the first several hours on the "High Smoke" setting, and it was producing quite a bit of smoke, and after that I cooked the picnic on 225 and the butt on 250.. When i tried the meat, it has ZERO smoke flavor! (I used the Cookn Pellets hickory/apple/maple/cherry blend. I also used some of Todds Competition blend on the butt...i don't remember the exact know the ones i am referring to).  Both seemed about the same.

    - I pulled it around 197, wrapped and rested for an hour as usual.The meat seemed juicy but it was not nearly as tender as what i am used to from a MES. With butts I have made for years on the MES, the meat can easily be "squished" into pulled pork with just basically grabbing a handful and moving it around. With both pieces of meat off this pellet grill, not the case. The meat seemed to be a little tougher than what i am used to. Is this common from a pellet burner?  Is this because there is no retention of moisture like there is in the enclosed cabinet of the MES?? Can I add a water pan in here??

    - This grill took almost 14 hours to cook both pieces of meat!!! Holy cow!!! I am NOT used to that! Typically it takes about 10 hours MAX in my MES.

    - Seems like the first smoke went through quite a bit of pellets....maybe about 15 lbs I would guess. The second took considerably less. Not sure why, as my second smoke was at a slightly higher temp.

    - Looks like 40 degree plus temp swings are the norm. I think i can live with that. I noticed on the upswing, there is no smoke. On the downswing, there's plenty of smoke at the bottom of temps.

    I am a little concerned about what I perceive as a "quality" issue with the meat that has come off the grill. Am I being too hard on the expectations for this great piece of equipment??

    Does this sound common for those of you that use pellet grills often??

    Will this thing break in and start to develop a "flavor" from the seasoned grill like other smokers that are well-seasoned? Will it add some smoke flavor at all, or is this a lost cause???

    Any insight to pellet grills is helpful and i thank you in advance!

    Oh and BTW, yes, I tried using my AMAZN in there too, and couldnt keep it lit (which has always been a problem for me even in the MES).


  2. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

    I feel I have plenty of smoke - some people don't.  I do add an amazen tube in the bottom of my barrel (below the drip tray) when I want more smoke (like if I'm doing bacon).  There seems to be plenty of air flow down there to keep it lit with the fan blowing into the fire pot.  I think people are used to oversmoked food, but that's just me - your mileage may vary.

    If you did a 10 lb butt in 10 hours in your MES - you were running hotter than 225 by a good margin.  At a validated 225, you can plan on around 1.5 hours per lb - maybe even a little more.  15 hours sounds right for 10 lb chunks of butt.  I would validate your temps anyway if you haven't already - your grate temps aren't likely what your displayed temps show.  Analog controllers are notorious for large temp swings and often inaccurate temps - I think you get what you pay for in regards to pellet grills and if you buy lower end non-PID controllers - be prepared for them.

    I've never had a problem with dry butts.  I never use a water pan, take them to at least 200, let them rest and pull and they are very juicy.  Not sure what would have caused that in yours.  I don't know of many people that use a water pan in pellet grills.  They are really used to even out temps in certain types of smokers - they aren't for making the interior of your meat more moist, which is a common misconception.

    Try to validate your temps with a secondary external thermometer, get to know the grill and how it runs (hot, cold, where the hotspots are, etc), and give it a few more cooks.

  3. swampmouse

    swampmouse Fire Starter

    Thanks Westby. I will give it a few more tries. Maybe I will put my AMAZN in the bottom like you suggested.

    I dont like a lot of smoke myself, and like you, have eaten plenty from other places thats oversmoked. My issue was i tasted NO soke at all....BUT, i am also used to using hickory and apple chips mixed, so maybe the choice of pellets may have made the difference.

    DO you have a brand of pellets that you use regularly?


  4. swampmouse

    swampmouse Fire Starter

    Oh and i forgot to mention, i always set my MES at 240, so you are correct in that I usually am higher with the MES than what i ran my original smoke on the pellet grill, but not so on the second one.. 

  5. westby

    westby Smoking Fanatic

    I have been using Lumberjack - either OHC, MHC or 100% hickory.  It has a light smoke taste, which I prefer, but nothing like I used to get on my gasser with chips/chunks (I honestly oversmoked a lot of that).  If I am running my smoke tube, it usually has hickory in it.  I definitely get more smoke flavor with the tube present.
  6. mowin

    mowin Master of the Pit

    I use a amnts (tube) in my pellet grill. I use it every smoke. I've never had a issue with it staying lit, and it sits on the rack in the back of the pit.

    I use lumberjack 100% hickory in the hopper and tube. It made a big difference in smoke flavor.
  7. swampmouse

    swampmouse Fire Starter

    Thanks guys! I appreciate the feedback. I will try some lumberjack 100% hickory and add my AMNPS in there on the bottom. 

    After doing another smoke in my MES to make sure i was being completely fair, I think apples to apples on lbs. of meat, I was off on my times. I was closer to 12 hours, whereas i thought i was around 10 (although I have done smaller cuts in 10 or less)

    Also, I think there is a flavor profile from a smoker thats had many a smoke ran in it as opposed to a new one. My new MES40 does not give the same flavor as my MES30, but the inside of my old 30" is black as can be, and i know that has flavor that it gives off as the meat cooks too.

    I will keep trying with the Cabela's and see if I can come up with a product i am satisfied with...and if I get to liking it, I may upgrade my controller to a digital controller in the future.


  8. bregent

    bregent Smoking Fanatic

    >When i tried the meat, it has ZERO smoke flavor! (I used the Cookn Pellets hickory/apple/maple/cherry blend.

    I think that most folks that switch over to pellet grills from another smoker have the same experience and can't detect ANY smoke flavor or aroma in the food initially. It took me at least a month before I started to taste it again. I think the higher smoke flavors from stick burners or cabinet smokers can desensitize your pallet. Now after a few years of pellet cooking the smoke profile is right where I want it - although I had to switch to 100% hickory to get there. If you want more smoke, forget using the blends and stick with pure hickory.

    >The meat seemed juicy but it was not nearly as tender as what i am used to from a MES

    If it's not as tender, then that's simply a matter of not being cooked enough. I agree with westby that you are probably running cooler than with the MES. Forget the set temperatures, if you're not monitoring with another thermometer, you really don't know what the MES was running at. You also mentioned 40F swings - is that +/-40 or +/-20 ?
  9. I have the AMNTS in 6" and 12" and find that I have to let it burn 15-20 minutes before I can close the lid on my Yoder. It seems to work best when I put it on the left side just above the fire grate. I also usually have to light it more that once with my torch to keep it going. Once it's going it's fine. 
  10. rogerwilco

    rogerwilco Meat Mopper

    ^^^^The Yoder has a "burn pot," where the pellets go to die (catch fire); a "deflector plate", which is solid, and fits above the burn pot; and "cooking grates," on which one places items to be cooked.

    To what do you reference?

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