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First ever smoke on MES 40. Where did I go wrong?

post #1 of 5
Thread Starter 

So I bought a MES 40 last week and seasoned it per the instructions.  On Saturday I tried to do a 7lbs brisket and it turned out edible, but certainly not good.  To me, it tasted way too smoky, it wasn't very tender, and was fairly dry.  It was also too salty.  Other than that, it was great : ).



 



I followed the directions on the dadgumthatsgood site for brisket

During the smoke I realized that the temperature reading on the MES was about 30 degrees higher than what the actual temperature was.  So when I thought I was cooking at 225 it was more like 195.  I realized this about halfway through and did the final 3-4 hours at the correct temperature, 225.  



 



The other issue I had was the wood chips. I used hickory and had no issue getting smoke.  But I definitely saw a different color of smoke (white) during a couple of the loads compared to the other loads (thin-ish, blue-ish).



 



Here are my questions:



 



1.  Did the low temperature cause the meat to dry out and be tough?  



2.  I think that the white smoke was caused during the times I tried to add a big handful of chips and not just a small one.  True?



3.  I put the rub on pretty thick, almost caked on (1/8" to 1/4" thick).  I think that's what caused the saltiness.  True?



4.  In the future, when do I add wood chips?  For this one, I added chips every time I saw smoke WASN'T coming out the vent.  Should I continue to add wood chips during the entire cooking process or just for part of it?



 



Sorry if this sounds idiotic.  Just sitting here kicking myself for spending $40 on a piece of meat that we only ate about 1/3 of.  Thank goodness for pizza delivery!



 



Any help or assistance would be appreciated!

post #2 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by fireitup View Post
 

So I bought a MES 40 last week and seasoned it per the instructions.  On Saturday I tried to do a 7lbs brisket and it turned out edible, but certainly not good.  To me, it tasted way too smoky, it wasn't very tender, and was fairly dry.  It was also too salty.  Other than that, it was great : ).

 

I followed the directions on the dadgumthatsgood site for brisket (http://www.dadgumthatsgood.com/smoked-brisket/)

 

During the smoke I realized that the temperature reading on the MES was about 30 degrees higher than what the actual temperature was.  So when I thought I was cooking at 225 it was more like 195.  I realized this about halfway through and did the final 3-4 hours at the correct temperature, 225.

 

The other issue I had was the wood chips. I used hickory and had no issue getting smoke.  But I definitely saw a different color of smoke (white) during a couple of the loads compared to the other loads (thin-ish, blue-ish).

 

Here are my questions:

 

1.  Did the low temperature cause the meat to dry out and be tough?  Probably not.

2.  I think that the white smoke was caused during the times I tried to add a big handful of chips and not just a small one.  True?  Most likely. Did you soak the chips first? That sometimes produces white smoke. Personally, I do not soak. It only delays the smoking process.

3.  I put the rub on pretty thick, almost caked on (1/8" to 1/4" thick).  I think that's what caused the saltiness.  True? Most likely. That recipe uses 1 full cup of salt to make about 3 cups of rub; 1/8" to 1/4" thick would be a LOT of salt.

4.  In the future, when do I add wood chips?  For this one, I added chips every time I saw smoke WASN'T coming out the vent.  Should I continue to add wood chips during the entire cooking process or just for part of it? Add 1/4 cup of wood chips every 25 to 30 minutes for the first 4 hours or so. This point is debated, but most folks feel that meat (being cooked) doesn't take on much more smoke after that.

 

Sorry if this sounds idiotic.  Just sitting here kicking myself for spending $40 on a piece of meat that we only ate about 1/3 of.  Thank goodness for pizza delivery!

 

Any help or assistance would be appreciated!

 

As for dryness, the salt didn't help. But did you start out with a lean piece of flat, or one with a thick fat cap covering one side? Smoking with the fat on top, or bottom depending on your smoking persuasion, will help keep the meat moist.

In short, live and learn. We've all been there, and we've all made mistakes. But with smoking, you can still usually eat your mistakes.

Good luck!

post #3 of 5
Lots of rub recipes have wayyyy too much salt for my taste. The first ribs I ever did came out far saltier than I like so I've been very careful about salt in rubs ever since.

The MESs have known issues with their temperature accuracy. I have to set mine about 20 degrees higher than what I actually want at higher temps. You just have to test yours and figure out what setting yields what temp.

Pork butts seem to need to be cooked to a fairly high internal temp to become tender. So yours may never have gotten hot enough to break down and get tender.

Don't feel bad. A lot of this is trial and error, and especially with a new smoker.

I do recommend getting an AMNPS smoke generator pellet maze gadget and not using the smoke generator that is built into the smoker. It is a lot easier to get good, steady smoke with that than using the smoker's chip drawer thing.

The problem with the chip drawer and heating element setup is that it can only give smoke when the heating element is on. So that's not really what you want.

Is yours the new version of the MES 40 with the controller on the front? Or the old version with the controller on the top near the back?

Lots of good advice for both can be found on here! Don't give up.

Phoned in.
post #4 of 5
Quote:
Originally Posted by mneeley490 View Post
4.  In the future, when do I add wood chips?  For this one, I added chips every time I saw smoke WASN'T coming out the vent.  Should I continue to add wood chips during the entire cooking process or just for part of it? Add 1/4 cup of wood chips every 25 to 30 minutes for the first 4 hours or so. This point is debated, but most folks feel that meat (being cooked) doesn't take on much more smoke after that.

 

I'm afraid I have to disagree with that - please check out this thread  :beercheer:

 

 

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/139995/it-wont-take-no-more-smoke-after-4-hours-horse-hockey

 

What IT did you take your brisket to?

 

My MES runs hotter than I set it at so I track temps with a Maverick ET-732 thermometer.

As suggested above, I would also strongly recommend picking up an AMNPS for your MES - I don't use mine without it  thumb1%20copy.gif

post #5 of 5

You seem to know all the things you need to watch/check next time.

 

If your temp was off, before the next cook you now know you need to check it to ensure what temp it is. if its in fact 30 off you know how to adjust it. But make sure and check unloaded with a good calibrated thermometer.

 

Yes, I gotta say a bit too much smoke.

 

Everyone has their own ideas about smoke. Fire burner, propane, and electric all different as well as different beliefs. I tend to agree with you instead of the offered link. I respect all those fine smokers opinions (that's an all star line up of Guru's), but with and electric I tend to disagree. Even sex can be taken past pleasurable. Its my understanding that the meats are most susceptible to taking smoke from 100 to 140 degrees. I am pretty sure I even saw that mentioned by the site owner Jeff. I am NOT saying it can only take smoke at these times, only that the meat is at its most vulnerable then. Everything above and below this has diminished returns. No one has ever said this to my knowledge but...... I also believe that is why the manufacturers recommend soaking the chips. Its to help the smoker/food to come up to temp before applying smoke. Course that's just my opinion. But you never hear someone complain about there not being enough smoke, you only hear a complaint if there is too much, so think about it.

 

Slow down on the wood chips and make sure you are using a good dry type. If you start with a small amount and see what you think, you can add more the next smoke and see where you are most happy. Besides they don't give those chips away.

 

Hickory and Mesquite are what are considered hard smokes, they need to be used with care. Pecan, cherry, peach, cob, etc... are all considered light smokes. Heavy smokes need a long smoke or a big piece of meant IMHO, the light smokes can be used anywhere but most specifically fish and fowl. The light smokes are hard to over smoke with, (BUT they can be).

 

Do not fill up the water tray. You don't need it with an electric smoker. Electrics and fire-burners are two different animals and as the basics are quite similar there are differences. You don't need to add fluid by mopping, spritzing, or saucing with and electric. because you don't have a fire to tend you leave the door closed and the moisture stays in. You will never see a smoke ring on the meat with an electric, or I have not in 30+ years with an electric as well as fire-burners. See a fire-burner recovers heat lose fast where an electric does it slow, extremely slow. Think of a gas stove compared to an electric, which heats up faster? But even if it does recover in say 10 mins. on a 12 hour smoke for  brisket that's adding 2 hours to your time table if you only open it once and hour. You need to leave the door shut. Think about doing a low and slow non-foiled 20+ hours cook. LOL.

 

If you really want to woo your friends, get a notebook to dedicate to just smoking. Use the research function above and do your homework. Then keep records of what you cooked, how you cooked it what you liked and what you didn't. Then research again looking for answers and possible changes you'd like to try. You can also come here and ask the Guru's they are the ones that either have Moderator or OTBS tags by their name. They will help you. 'Course you can always do as you did and just post for help but now next time you'll have your questions narrowed down. Here is a sample to help you decide what is important to you.

 

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/attachments/3

 

No one knows everything because there is no one right way, its all about you enjoying the journey to mastering your specific pit. If you keep notes, you'll get there faster.

 

Remember, smoking is like a Zen thing, you are supposed to enjoy it, not stress about it. When you are cooking for 5 to 25 hours its mostly prep. unless the wife needs ya to watch the kids, do honey-dos, or pick up after the dog, or run an errand,  you really have the day off to watch the smoke and maybe a cool drink. You can always beg off because of the smoke if she gets to intense. LOL

 

Use the site, use the search, look at Q-views, and take notes. Most of all remember to enjoy the smoke.

 

Heres another good link for smoke. It doesn't take a side. LOL

 

http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/t/139474/understanding-smoke-management-updated-5-18-13


Edited by Foamheart - 9/23/13 at 5:32pm
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