New guy....need help!

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by hidepounder, Jun 15, 2010.

  1. Hello everybody.....I just found this forum and recognized that I might get some help here. I'm not sure if this is the right place to ask newbie questions but I'll give it a shot.

    My wife and I recently purchased a Masterbuilt electric smoker (an entry level smoker from QVC, LOL) thinking we might be able to learn a little about smoking. We are in Phoenix and cook outside nearly everynight on a DCS barbeque which we are crazy about. Anyway, our first experience was pretty good (purely by accident). We smoked a pork shoulder and some ribs w/hickory. Shoulder was great....ribs were over smoked. Had a blast, learned a little (like you don't need to add wood chips twice before first chips are gone) and decided to try some salmon. to CostCo for a nice piece of salmon, then to Barbeques Galore for some alder wood chips (per my research on the net). They didn't carry alder (of course) but conviced us pecan was just as good. So off to smoke about 3#'s of salmon.

    Pre-heated MES to 190 degrees, added the soaked pecan chips and put the salmon on a piece of foil (oiled as instructed) and on the rack for 45 minutes. Salmon was preparred with sea salt, pepper, dill and an Agave glaze (ILO brown sugar the recipe called for). Great! Off to drink some beer and wait! 45 minutes later we checked the fish. It was done alright!  REALLY mushy and the pecan chips were just sitting in the chip pan...nice and dry and ready to use next time, LOL!  So, our salmon was basically just over baked with a unmentionable texture (from the Agave glaze I'm sure)...definitely not smoked! Of course I will eat every last bite with a big smile and assure my bride that this was a terrific effort (I was sure she was going to hurl!) and that we should definitely try this again, LOL!

    Besides learning that I do NOT like sugar coated salmon, I don't have a clue what happened. It occurred to me that finding and joining a forum might be a good idea! So, if anyone has the time and/or patience, I would love to know what all I did wrong and maybe some recommendations for next time! I'm thick skinned and so all laughing, joking and poking fun is perfectly acceptable....I just don't think I can eat the WHOLE CHICKEN if this happens again this weekend!

    Thanks in advance...

    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  2. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    Well don't soak your chips for starters, theres really no need to. As far as mushy goes, kind of hard to say. the fish should just basically fall apart and flake when you put a fork to it. Is that what you consider mushy? 

    Also a new recipe for ya:

    take your filet and season w/ salt, black pepper, red pepper, garlic powder, and onion powder.

    then slice a lemon in 1/4" circles and place them on the filet(doesn't have to cover the whole filet, usually 4-5 circles is plenty) with a pat of butter on top of each circle. 

    grill over a low fire and baste regularly with a sauce of butter, lemon juice, garlic powder, and a lil worcestershire.

    make sure the fire isn't too hot. You should be able to hold the back of your hand at grate level for 10 seconds without having to pull away. If its hotter than that then let it cook down a little more. have you wood chips on the fire. Once the temp is good, place the filet scale side down on the grill and baste regularly and keep you eye on it. once the fish is flaking with a fork then take it off and enjoy. 

    This recipe is Great on red fish or red snapper. Its good on salmon as well but salmon is probably my least favorite grilled fish. you get much better flavor from fresh red fish or snapper.
  3. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    also I noticed you said your ribs were oversmoked. make sure you have thin blue smoke coming out and not thick white smoke. also let your meat air dry on the counter for an hour or so before you put it on to smoke. try to get the outside somewhat dry because the moisture can cause the carbon in the smoke to attach to the meat giving you that oversmoked flavor. 
  4. FFTWarren,

    Thanks for the recipe! With the exception of the butter and Worcestershire it's how we normally grill on the barbeque (without the wood chips of course). We'll try adding the butter and Worcestershire....sounds good! 

    I have no doubt that the Agave glaze was also a major problem with the texture of the fish. I would describe the texture as "stiff mashed potatoes". It's apparent to me now, that the salesman demonstrating the wonders of Agave, at CostCo, knows even less about smoking salmon than I do when he suggested it made a great glaze when smoking the fish (should have seen that doesn't even SOUND good, LOL!).

    Also appreciate the tips about dryng the meat before we put it in. Like I said, the shoulder was awesome but the ribs were a little overdone...I'm sure because we did both at the same time without having a clue, LOL!

    This is an awsome site....found a great thread regarding wood chips...I was doing that ALL wrong and just making charcoal, LOL!  Also see that we are not the only ones trying to figure out what the heck we are doing down on our knees in front of this smoker. Great mod examples....I'll post my version when done.

  5. fftwarren

    fftwarren Smoking Fanatic

    Oh, if you cooked the shoulder and the roast the same amount of time, you probably were over smoked. a shoulder will take upwards of 7-11 hours depending on the size, ribs 5 hours. so you may have done it right, just cooked it too long
  6. rrsteve

    rrsteve Fire Starter

    Good to have you with us. I have smoked a lot of salmon and if it is smoked salmon you want, it takes a lot longer than 45 minutes. I always brine mine first for a couple of hours in a salt and water mix. Take it out and pat dry with paper towels. Then you can put you sugar or whatever  on the fish and put it in the smoker. 190° sounds pretty good for temp. of smoker. Depending on thickness etc. of fillet,  it will take about 4-5 hours. I like to use hickory or oak. In Alsaka they use Alder but I have never used it. The fish will have a nice color to it  and when you put finger pressure on top of the fillet there will be kind of a crust and maybe a little give to the meat, not spongy but some give ( can't think of a better term to use). You want smoke (thin not heavy) all through the process. I think your first attempt was too short for smoked salmon and not hot enough for baked or grilled salmon. That's why it was soft and mushy.

    When the fish is done it will flake. You then sit down open a cold one and enjoy smoked  salmon.

  7. richoso1

    richoso1 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF, i see you're getting some help from our friendly and helpful member's. I moved your thread to roll call, so that everyone can give you a welcome. It'It's all good my friend.
  8. newflame

    newflame Meat Mopper

    I have the same MES, and I always soak my wood chips...not sure why, just do :)  nice to have you here, feel free to ask all the "newbie" questions you like, but I might suggest searching the forums before you do so, as there is a good chance the question has already been answered many times over..cheers!
  9. Thanks everyone for the "smokin' welcome" (okay....that was bad and probably worn out)! But I'm really excited to find this site. I've already spent several hours searching and found answers to a lot questions and discovered answers to questions I didn't know I had, LOL!

  10. mballi3011

    mballi3011 Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member


     First off welcome Bobby to SMF. You'll like it here cause there are alot of really good folks that would just love to help you with anything to do with smoking. Now we like having new folks here to give a new prospective on some of the ways we do things around here. Now if you are really new then I would suggest that you sign up fir the 5-day E-course it free and it will give you the basics on smoking and a few recipes too. Here's a link to it:

    then you will have a method to your newly found madness and believe me it will be a madness. Then when you start smoking things you will have to learn how to post the pictures / Qview 

    here. So here's a link to a tutorial on how to post your Qview so we can see what your doing.

    Now the next thing you have to do is run out and get something to smoke. Then just smoke it and if you have any questions just post  them here and we will answer all your questions that you might have. Oh yea there's no stupid questions we were all there in the beginning and we just really like to help others enjoy the fabulous smoked foods that we do. So again


    Welcome to Your New Addiction
  11. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Welcome aboard!  Tons of happy MES owners here, myself included, that would be glad to help you out.

    First of all, you MUST soak the chips with the MES or they will catch fire and the resulting billow of white smoke will make your meat bitter.  Put a handful of chips in when you start it and preheat it up to 270* then add some more chips as the smoke goes down and let it cool some before adding your meat keeping in mind that you will lose tons of heat when you open the door.  Even this way, you may have a hard time getting smoke at 190, but it works great around 225.  It just takes a little practice to know when to add chips.  Last night I did a 5-hour smoke (baby back ribs) and I only had to add chips at the beginning -- it had a great TBS for the whole 5 hours..  For cold smokes and lower hot smokes you'll need a smoke generator such as the A-MAZE-N smoker:

    Also note that the internal thermometer on the MES isn't always accurate, so get a thermometer such as the ET-73 to make sure that it's actually the temp that you want it to be.

    Happy smoking, and we look forward to seeing some Q-view from you!
  12. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    I don't remember who posted this, but these are some good MES tips:

    • Season it. (Many spray the inside with PAM)
    • No extension cords.
    • Spray your racks with PAM prior to smoke (makes cleanup easier).
    • Use alum foil on the water pan and drain pan, again for easier cleanup.
    • Manual says preheating isn't necessary, I preheat, (this advice is mainly for older models) it will make getting up to initial set temp faster, and temp recovery when opening hatch faster. I preheat to 270º. Cold ambient 45º and lower 2 hours, 1 hour for warmer temps and as little as 30 min. in summer. (New MES with higher wattage elements, preheating may not be necessary especially in normal outdoor ambient conditions).
    • Add boiling hot water to pan, this will allow you to get up to set temp faster.
    • Start the smoke with a few wood chips. The manual says 1 cup max, you will find a hand full is almost too much. 1st chip dump just a few chips, 5-10 min later a little more chips, 20-30 min even more chips. At this point you will have a bed of hot chips and ash, and chip combustion should be good. Your goal is TBS (thin blue smoke). When its right you can smell the sweet smoke, it won't smell bitter or be cloudy white. Dark smoke is nothing but awful.
    • Do not adjust vent leave it wide open.
    • Use external probe for sensing meat internal temp, you can run the probe cord through the exhaust vent. *You may want to run 2nd probe inserted into a wood block or potato with 2 to 3" tip exposed to verify the internal MES cooking temp.
    • Once you meat is loaded, avoid opening the hatch. New models can recover to set temp faster, but every time you open the door you extend the cooking time. Thus spritzing isn't really necessary in a MES due to the water pan keeping the smoking environment moist enough to not dry out the meat.
    • If you do have to open your MES plan your moves so you can keep door open time to a minimum.
    • When your done cooking, the proper way to shut the MES down is to turn off the controller then unplug.
    • If your MES seems to struggle getting to either the preheat temp of 270º or is taking extraordinary long times to raise to cooking temps after meat is loaded try doing a RESET..
    Proper RESET = cycle the MES off with the controller, unplug electrical cord, count to 10, replug elect. cord, turn on MES with on/off, reset temps.
    If you tried a reset, and 20-30 minutes later there is little change do the reset again.
    • Cleanup is easy with a Brillo pad to scrub the tough stuff, and throw grates, water pan and drip pan into dishwasher. Some have complained about the spot welds on the drain pan rusting, I hit those spots with a touch of PAM then store the cleaned stuff back in the MES.
    You do not need to clean the inside cabinet, most experienced smokers consider that just seasoning. With a hot wet rag, wipe out the inside bottom and any excessive gunk on the walls. Again with hot damp cloth, wipe the door gasket, and the door frames (for better seal).
  13. eman

    eman Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member


     I use an exstention cord on my mes.

     Don't soak chips never have and never had a flame up.

     don't have any trouble maintaing TBS.

     Now let me say this , I am an electrician and constucted my own heavy duty ext. cord.

     Make it as short as you can and still be able to reach your MES

     Use 10 guage wire and 20 amp rated male and female plugs.

     I allways pre heat my unit no matter the temp. it cuts down on the time it takes your meat to reach the 140 degree safe zone. and it takes a little less time to smoke.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2010
  14. ronp

    ronp Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    I have NEVER soaked my chips after 100+ smokes. Do what you feel is right.
  15. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the SMF. Glad to have you here. Lots of good folks, great recipes and knowledge. Looking forward to your first qview.
  16. mythmaster

    mythmaster Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Are you guys using the 40" model?  I think that they changed the chip tray design on that one.  My 30" puts out WAY too much smoke or the chips catch fire if I don't soak them.

    So, if OP has the 40" then disregard what I said about soaking chips.

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