I've been smoking with my MES 30 here for about 3 months now. I recently got an AMNPS, which is great, but I do have a lot of issues with it skipping rows a lot of the time. Though this discussion is not really meant to talk about my AMNPS issues as it is doing a better job than the chips were by far.
What I've been trying to get my head around is why it seems when I smoke a smaller cut of pretty much anything it seems to take FOREVER to cook. I understand it's not about time all of the time but about the temperature and I understand the stall. Though as I'm sure many of you will agree, time is important if you have a ton of hungry people over. Even understanding the temp and stall things, there are times my smaller cuts have just taken way longer than I ever expected them too.
Here are some examples:
1. 4-5 lb boston butt - should average out at 1.5 hr/lb at a cook time of 6.75. On two occasions I have smoked to 165 which took a normal amount of time, maybe 4 hours depending on the starting temp of the meat. However, once after wrapping it ended up taking another 6-7 hours just to get to 195. I watched it push through any stall points with relative ease, but it just seemed to be taking forever. Another time, with a similar cut I had the same exact thing happen, the meat would just not get up to temperature. I ended up finally getting them there and they pulled nicely and tasted great but the timeframe for cooking was so off it was frustrating.
2. 5-6 lb brisket - should be 8 to 9 hours of total cook time. I did one yesterday, started at 9:00 AM it didn't touch 165 until about 3:30. I foiled it early (at about 155, some spots 165) and ended up only going to a temp of 180ish and that was two hours later. Most places I've read say 190-195 for brisket, but the one time I did that it ended up so dry you needed to drink water or have a lot of BBQ sauce to get it down. However, after over 9 hours of cooking I would have expected that sucker to be at least 190. I pulled it off and it sliced almost like butter and tasted amazing so I'm not complaining.
3. On the flip side, a few weeks back I did an 8 lb picnic roast for pulling and that was done in <8 hours. It was the best one I've made yet to be honest. My father-in-law also did an 8 lb boston last week in his propane Masterbuilt and that only took 8 hours, but he also pulled it out at 180, no foiling, straight through smoking and it was perfectly tender.
Between my brisket and my father-in-laws pork and taking them out at much lower temps that I've read they "should" be at, I'm not fully convinced those higher temps are always necessary. I've been finding that the feeling of the meat and just intuition is getting me better product.
I'm still working to under the sciences of this, and I know every meat is different. However, I wanted to see what others had to say. Thanks all, happy smoking!