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1st run at the ribs in my MES 30.

post #1 of 25
Thread Starter 

Got the MES 30 yesterday.  Seasoned it per the instructions,  smoked some burgers afterwards just to get some meat in there and run another smoke.

This morning I have wiped it down (not a deep clean but thorough), cleaned the drip pan, rinsed out the wood trip tray and dried, cleaned the grates, etc.

I am using the rub in the instruction manual (brown sugar, pepper, salt, garlic, chili powder, cayenne, onion powder, etc) however I will be using the 3-2-1 method per this site. Actually I am using the 2-2-1 method since I am using Baby Back ribs and I read on here to take an hour off for those.

My MES is preheating at 275.  I have added hot water (about half the pan if full). Now I am waiting on my ribs to get to room temperature. The rub was put on about an 1.25 hours ago. Will probably give them another 30 minutes sitting on the counter top to come to room temperature and to allow the rub to further  soak in.


When its time to put the ribs in, I will cut the smoker off, reset the temperature to 225 and set the time to 5 hours.  I will then put my ribs in on the PAM sprayed crates, close the door and add the wood(Using Hickory).  I was able to get smoke last night as low temp as 180 so the chips should start smoking immediately. I am putting the ribs in before the wood based on the video on Masterbuilt's website.  I have been debating that all day but will follow the manufacturer's advice this once. My gut tells me to get the smoke going first and then add the food. (I may look on this site for guidance. I have 20 minutes before its go time).


Have attached pic of ribs before they go in.


Few questions

1. When to add wood chips - few minutes before meat is put in to get smoke going or after meat has been placed in smoker.  Remember with the MES 30, you don't have to open the door to add wood so heat loss is minimal.

2. Wet smoke or Dry smoke- what is the difference?  How does it effect the end product?

3. Wood preference - I am using Hickory this time.  I also have Apple and Pecan. I seasoned with Pecan. I want to use Apple but feel like I need a traditional wood for my first rib smoke. Thoughts?


Ribs before smoke.JPG


post #2 of 25

I like to have the smoke flowing when I add the meat to the smoker, I also found that my food comes out just as good when I don't use water in the pan, which also makes cleanup easier.Wood preference is just that, a preference, but you can also mix whatever woods you want. Hickory goes with pretty much everything, and Apple goes well with pork and poultry, but is very mild, so a mix of apple and hickory would be good to try. Experience is the best teacher when it comes to smoking, try using water, no water, and different wood types. I also highly reccomend getting a good thermometer so you know the exact temp of the smoker, since the built in thermometer is usually off by about 15 degrees plus or minus.

post #3 of 25

just put st louis styles in my new 30  i am also using the amnps for the smoke generator with bourbon barrel wood pellets,

i also like the smoke going before i add the meat. 95% of the time i dry smoke but will mist the meat with a baste of some sort usually cider and pineapple juice wood pref is just that.....  what do you like  i like to go combo with a hard wood/fruit wood hope this helps ill be watching for Q view drool.gif

post #4 of 25

p.S here is my thread on my first ribs in the mes today


post #5 of 25
Thread Starter 

Ribs are in, unfortunately everything didn't go as planned but I think I may be ok.

After leaving the MES 30 at 275 for about 45 minutes with water in the dripping pan, I reset the temperature to 225 and then went ahead and added my chips.

I didn't get smoke at first with the chips but I figure it was because the heating element must have been off in order to allow the temperature to drop. I let the temperature get down to 225 and then put my ribs in. I maybe should have put them in when I first reset the temperature due to the drop in heat when I opened the door.  After spraying the grates and putting the ribs in the temp had dropped down to 173 with no smoke. After 3 minutes I got smoke (heating element was definitely back on to recover the temp to 225).  And after about 15 minutes it was up to 225 with smoke.    Now the trick is to figure out when to add wood.


Update: The small amounts of smoke I was getting quickly disappeared. I looked in the chip tray through the loader and the chips were almost completely ash.  I added another load, and then per one user on this message board, loaded the chip loader and put it there.  I am back getting the smoke I was getting earlier, not BTS but not a strong billow either. 


How much smoke is enough/ too much?


post #6 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response.  I am really going the Amazen pellet smoker box for the MES.  I am hearing too many good things about it. Sounds like you can get the smoke going on it and then put it in your smoker and not worry about it anymore.


The ribs are going.  I may have added to much wood the second time, I got an increase in smoke.  Now I am going to let the smoke burn off for a while before considering adding more chips.  I've got about 1 hour left to smoke.  Hope I didn't over do it and ruin my meat. We will see. I will post regardless when they are finished.



post #7 of 25



there's no better way to break in a new smoker than a little trial and error.  How much wood you use is really something you'll have to decide for yourself.  In my opinion, you don't want too much smoke when cooking ribs because they tend to take on a bitter flavor when oversmoked.  Since you are using the 2-2-1 on the ribs, keep in mind that the ribs won't take on smoke flavor when foiled.  I also agree with glocksrock that apple and hickory is a good mix for pork ribs or any pork product actually. 


Dont be discouraged if you havent dialed in exactly the taste you want on your first go.  Just remember on the thinner cuts (ribs, etc) it's easy to use too much smoke.  But that's just my taste preference.

post #8 of 25

Practice makes perfect!


I don;t use water in the pan either

Don't mistake "Steam" for "Smoke"




No Creosote! A-Maze-N Smokers

post #9 of 25



For pork, I prefer a mix of hickory and apple but there's not real set formula.  I would avoid mesquite since the flavor is very strong.  I have also used oak and pear with good results.


The smoke you want is actually very light, you should see very little coming out of the exhaust.  This is the "Thin Blue Smoke" aka TBS that we all strive for.  I generally get the wood going before I put the meat in but I'm not sure it makes all that much difference.  If your ribs are in the smoke for the first 2 hours +/- you should be fine.  I also usually use water but I have a gasser so the process may be different.


Good luck and make sure to post some "after" photos.



post #10 of 25

There's definitely a learning curve if you use chips in the MES. Todd's device makes it real easy, but you can get it done with chips you just have a lot of babysitting to do.

post #11 of 25

Just my $0.02 but if you're finding ash in your smoke box instead of black charcoal, your chips are burning and not really smoking.  Fire puts out much less smoke than smoldering. I find that when your smoker is pumping out nice TBS, there is very little or no ash in the smoker box... just lump charcoal after the chips/chunks have stopped putting out TBS.   I actually keep the lump charcoal (wood chunks post smoke) from my Master Forge gasser and use it in my Weber for grilling.  I know for certain that it's 100% hardwood lump.



post #12 of 25
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the response.   Using chips is definitely trial and error and baby sitting as Al stated.  Todd's device can't get here soon enough, but I will have fun with the chips until it does.  Getting ready to pull them out.  I would say for the first two hours I had a about 45-60 minutes of strong smoke and another 60 minutes of very lite smoke.  Now I know what to go for next time. Hopefully I didn't over smoke them.


Getting ready to wrap them in foil and pour in a little apple juice and cook for another 2 hrs.  Will pull out and finish for another hour after that with no smoke. 


Last question guys for this smoke.. When mopping the ribs, should I wait for the last hour in the smoker when the ribs are un-wrapped and cooking without smoke? How often should I hit them with the sauce and how soon before they are finished?  I know the point is to get the sauce somewhat baked into the meat so I am thinking to mop them at the beginning of the last hour and the last thirty minutes.  Let me know if this makes sense or should I leave them alone and not mop at all.  I have two racks so perhaps I could mop one and leave the other alone...


Thanks again, you guys are awesome.



post #13 of 25
Thread Starter 

That makes sense.  I am seeing a lot of ash. I did leave some chips in the loader as one of the members suggested and they were more like lump charcoal as opposed to the chips that were in the tray which turned to ash... Interesting.

post #14 of 25

Hey David, you use the term 'mop' and 'sauce' up above... not sure if you really mean the two different things or not.  To me mop is something like apple juice/cider or beer whereas sauce is a traditional bbq sauce.  Anyhow... here's what I do, but I'm not an MES user so perhaps someone with a heck of a lot more experience with the MES will be along shortly to set you straight.


I use a spray bottle full of apple juice or cider or even beer if I'm out of apple and spray my ribs the first 3 hours in the smoker about every 45 minutes or so.


If you want to apply bbq sauce while there still in the smoker, you can start hitting them with sauce with about an hour left in the smoke.  This is truly all personal preference and a lot of folks do it differently... you just need to find your groove by experience.  You can also take the ribs out of the smoker when they're just about done and toss them on a grill for a few minutes per side to get a little better bark on them and then hit them with the sauce while they're still hot from the grill - after you take them off the grill.


Shout out if I can help with anything!



post #15 of 25
Thread Starter 

You are right, I confused the two.  I meant sauce.  I wish I would have thought to mop these. Thanks

post #16 of 25

No problem.  Don't forget some Q-View so we can take a look at those bad dogs!


I'm sure they'll be great!



post #17 of 25
myself, I've found that the last hour is to much for my liking.. it dries them out to much... about thirty minutes for me.. like they have been saying, it's a learning experience and you'll have to do it to fit your taste... Yes, I would sauce one and leave the other dry (for experiment).. another thing I would do is keep a log book of your smokes (folder in your documents will work).. that way you know what to do or not do on your next goaround
post #18 of 25

I totally agree with JckDanls 07!  I've been keeping a log for so long I forget to mention it.  Start logging every smoke.  Record everything!  It will become you reference book down the road!



post #19 of 25
Thread Starter 

Ok so they are finished.  I brushed them with BBQ with 30 minutes left.  I actually believe the meat was ready after the 2-2 and didn't need the last hour to complete the 2-2-1.  I went ahead and pulled two small pieces out at that mark and let the two large racks cook for the final hour (more like 30 minutes) brushing with sauce about 15 minutes in to the final time frame.


Results (other than the image):


1. Ribs developed a very thick, dark crust (think that is called the bark, not sure if it applies to ribs - sorry if I am mis-speaking) that was strong in taste.

2. The meat, though firm came off the bone nice and was very tender.  It may have been a tad dry though, not sure what amount of moisture to look for.

3. Smoke was nice, probably could be improved but could definitely taste it and the meat was not bitter from smoke.

4. Overall very edible ribs that came off the bone lovely.  Love it when there is nothing but a clean bone left.

5. Wife and in laws all enjoyed and were very complimentary however they agreed with the strong taste and amount of the rub.


Summary of experience:

1. New to smoking so my smoke was probably off. It was at best inconsistent but I am going to review the site and take the E class to better understand the concept of smoking

2. I definitely used too much of the Master Built rub recipe, though I liked the nice crust, it was a bit overwhelming and even caked on the ribs in spots as you can see from earlier pictures.  I will not be so liberal and will definitely use a different rub, maybe the one sold on this site. I don't care for the heat in this particular rub recipe, alot of cayenne and black pepper.  I like my ribs a little sweeter

3. May have over cooked slightly but they were still very edible and pretty good.  Not sure how juicy the smoked ribs are supposed to be.  To me it comes down to temperature. I probably need an external thermometer to make sure my MES is cooking correctly.  Until I get an external thermometer, I will dial the heat back in 5 degree increments.



Thanks to everyone on the site. This is truly a great tool and I appreciate the feedback and help for my first real smoke. Picture at the bottom. Hope to do another rack Friday and also going to try a tenderloin for Friday night.  Will definitely use this site for guidance.  Ribs after smoke.JPG


post #20 of 25

Like the other guys suggested, keep a log of your smokes.

Many guys use a modified version of the 3-2-1 method


My Modified 3-2-1

Smoke for 3 hours at 225°

Foil & Add Apple Juice for another 2 hours at 225°

Unfoil and Grill on low for about 10 minutes - Toughens up the outside


Sounds like your 1st rib smoke was a success!




No Creosote! A-Maze-N Smokers

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