I'm on my second attempt at smoking with a Char Broil vertical electric smoker -
For those not familiar, this is an electric water smoker with a flat "heat plate" about 1" below a ring electric burner. The water bowl is about 4" deep and is just barely above the electric burner. Obviously, food just above that water bowl - top grate is about 4" above water bowl.
Last time, I soaked hickory chips for about an hour, spread a good sized layer of them all around on that heat plate, but not touching the electric burner just so they wouldn't flat burn and raise the temp way way up.
I didn't open the vent at all (just to see), and it didn't do anything but bake for a long time, and then about 3 hours in, a whole lot of smoke came up and the temp shot way way up, and the food temp went through the roof. So I kinda figured I'd oversoaked the chips and had no circulation, so the chips didn't get enough oxygen to actually smolder and produce smoke, until the water boiled down and then things got going in a hurry.
On this second run today, I soaked the hickory chips for only 1/2 hour, and opened the vent 1/2 in (50% of opening), and it smoked a little bit for about the first 30 minutes, then smoke stopped coming out altogether.
It's now been running at 180-190 (with the temp thermostat on HI ), with no smoke at all.
I can see uncharred chips sitting around inside very close to the burner, but just not generating any smoke.
Good air coming out of the vent, so I know I'm getting circulation inside..
Temps are running in the 190 range, (turkey breast now at about 140)
But I'm essentially only baking the turkey, not smoking it at all -- without hickory chip smoke hitting them, they're just baking.
Why am I still not getting any smoke/smolder coming from the chips??
This is the same exact effect I get using one of those little chip-boxes on my grill -- the chips simply never do anything at all in the way of smoke.
Is soaking the wood chips really just some sort of bad idea that no one ever really does with any smoke success?