I'm new to smoking and picked the unit up for Christmas. I presume its a Second Gen unit, but I don't know how to tell.
Build: The door seems twisted with the lower left corner having about a half-inch gap. MES sending new door but I'm able to pull it in with a heavy latch adjustment so the contact seems OK. Otherwise the unit seems fine.
Temperature Test: I noticed some oddities while smoking a 5-LB boneless prime rib for Christmas. Afterword I ran a temp test with Maverick remote thermometer after first validating the temperature of the Maverick in boiling water and against a good dial thermometer at room temperature. I set the smoker to 200 degrees, opened the vent, and logged the data.
Temp Test Results: There is about a 15 degree difference between the lower middle part of the smoker and the upper middle part of the smoker. Worse, the MES unit measures about 20-25 degrees lower than the Maverick. ( I put the Maverick temperature probe just inside where the factory probe comes out of the back wall of the unit). The meat probe temperature lines up well with the Maverick probe. I also inserted a good quality meat thermometer through the air vent as another reference. (See graph below).
It seems like the factory unit is not measuring the temperature of the air inside the unit, but rather the temperature within the insulation, perhaps, because when the unit is cold the temp matches up well with other thermometers.
Has anyone found a way to calibrate the temperature of these or am I resigned to setting my temp 25 degrees below what I desire?
Prime Rib: The meat came out very nicely although I'd say it was a little sour. I added modest amounts of cherry chips every hour or so and used no water in the tray.
Jerkey: Made up some Jerkey from an eye-of-the-round roast. Again, it seemed a little sour to my taste. I was surprised how long it took to smoke 1/4 inch slices and I purposely went easy on the chips. I used hickory this time and again no water in the tray and set the thermostat to get 190 (real) degrees in the unit.
Sausage: I ground up 5 LB of Pork Picnic from a 4-H pig we got from a local girl, added garlic, fennel, parsley, cayenne, etc. and stuffed it using the new Kitchen Aid stuffer attachment we picked up. That was a ton of fun. The sausage came out mealy, however. I don't know if I ground it too finely (twice through the kitchen aid course die, then once through the fine die), or if should have added fat of some kind. I only discarded the gristle and tendons that wouldn't go through the grinder but there wasn't a lot of outside fat on the roast.
I need to find out:
1. How to manage sourness
2. What to do with the factory temperature sender
3. The secret to making sausage.