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MES newbie with a few questions

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 

I just received my MES 2nd generation 30" electric smoker....I couldn't be more excited. I've been reading a lot of the posts here for ideas, recipes, knowledge, etc. What a great site and thank you so much for all the people that reply to what people ask. That being said, I have a few questions before I start my boston butt sunday.

1. How do you know when to add more wood chips? I've been reading about having to put them in every 30-45min, but what do you look for? Will the smoke coming out of the vent no longer be coming out? Is that when to add more chips? Is it by smell?

2. Another question about the smoke...I read one post where the person said his meat was too smokey. Is there a way to prevent that or how would one know? Just trial and error?

3. When I stick the meat probe thermometer in at the beginning, I know to let it get to 160 degrees and then I will put it in foil. Do I just stick the probe back in when it's wrapped in foil, piercing the foil?

4. Any recommendation to put anything in the foil when wrapping or is it just the pork?

5. Would apple cider vinegar be better to put in the water cup vs. water? How often does that need to be filled during the smoking process, just once or multiple times?

 

Thanks in advance for all the help! By sunday night I hope to have some good bbq and good pics to share with your help!

post #2 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by AirInky View Post
 

I just received my MES 2nd generation 30" electric smoker....I couldn't be more excited. I've been reading a lot of the posts here for ideas, recipes, knowledge, etc. What a great site and thank you so much for all the people that reply to what people ask. That being said, I have a few questions before I start my boston butt sunday.

 

1. How do you know when to add more wood chips? I've been reading about having to put them in every 30-45min, but what do you look for? Will the smoke coming out of the vent no longer be coming out? Is that when to add more chips? Is it by smell?

 

Slow down.....LOL

 

The optimum time when the meat takes smoke is from 100 degree Internal Temperature (IT) to 145 degrees IT. That being said, each charge if you regulate your vent, should last about an hour.  So the most you should be reloading is maybe 3 or 4 times depending upon yout box temp and your meat. MY Butt today was up to 145 in 4 hours. Do not over load your chip tray because it can flash or over smoke, too much smoke is as bad as not enough. BTW I was smoking my butt at 220 in an MES30.

 

At some point in your smoking career you'll probably want to get an aux smoke generator to use for longer cooks and cold smokes. They make all kinds, MES even has one. One of the site sponsors sells an inexpensive pellet tray type that works well. You'll see folks referring to their AMPs, that's what they are talking about.

 

 

2. Another question about the smoke...I read one post where the person said his meat was too smokey. Is there a way to prevent that or how would one know? Just trial and error?

 

If you do not use more than 1/2 Cup of chips per charge you should be find. Also the type of wood makes a huge difference also. There are hard smoking woods like mesquite and hickory, I'd put oak and pecan in the middle, and everything else is a light smoke. Always start light then the next time you'll know if you need more, its a learning experience, like driving.

 

3. When I stick the meat probe thermometer in at the beginning, I know to let it get to 160 degrees and then I will put it in foil. Do I just stick the probe back in when it's wrapped in foil, piercing the foil?

 

I don't foil, but just leave the probe in and wrap it. its going to steam, but its not expected to be a major pressure cooker.

 

4. Any recommendation to put anything in the foil when wrapping or is it just the pork?

 

Pigs likes apples, honey, brown sugar, maple syrup, squeeze butter, all you are doing is using a fluid to make steam, you might as well add some extra taste while doing it.

Apple juice brown sugar and butter are pretty basic. You can use the search and get professional help like with Chef JJ's famous professional homemade sauce recipes. I made more of his finishing sauce for my butt that is in the smoker right now.

 

5. Would apple cider vinegar be better to put in the water cup vs. water? How often does that need to be filled during the smoking process, just once or multiple times?

 

I do not use water. Its an electric, electricity and water are not buddies. For years I swore by using juices like cranberry juice, but when I sat down and really pondered it one day, I couldn't taste it and no one else in the group cold either. Really the water pan is best suited to be used as a drip pan or filled with sand and used as a heat sink.

 

Thanks in advance for all the help! By sunday night I hope to have some good bbq and good pics to share with your help!

post #3 of 7

Congrats on your new smoker. May you enjoy many a fine meal with it.

My opinion on smoke is just enough to know it's there. Let the spices do their thing.

If you haven't already done so check the smoker temp display with a thermometer known to be accurate. 

 

Have fun.

post #4 of 7

I have the same type of smoker and it works pretty well. I would not worry about being over-smoked as long you just add wood based upon the amount of smoke. When the vents have smoke coming out you are good to go. There is nothing wrong with a thin smoke but as said before you should pay attention to the internal temperature. Use your vents to your advantage and I usually use new wood every 50-70 minutes. After the first charge I find that a half batch or so works quite well. I usually use apple juice in the water pan but I don't know for sure it makes a big difference. Good luck with everything!

post #5 of 7
Thread Starter 

Thank you so much for all your help! Much appreciated!

post #6 of 7
Quote:
Originally Posted by AirInky View Post
 

I just received my MES 2nd generation 30" electric smoker....I couldn't be more excited. I've been reading a lot of the posts here for ideas, recipes, knowledge, etc. What a great site and thank you so much for all the people that reply to what people ask. That being said, I have a few questions before I start my boston butt sunday.

1. How do you know when to add more wood chips? I've been reading about having to put them in every 30-45min, but what do you look for? Will the smoke coming out of the vent no longer be coming out? Is that when to add more chips? Is it by smell?

2. Another question about the smoke...I read one post where the person said his meat was too smokey. Is there a way to prevent that or how would one know? Just trial and error?

3. When I stick the meat probe thermometer in at the beginning, I know to let it get to 160 degrees and then I will put it in foil. Do I just stick the probe back in when it's wrapped in foil, piercing the foil?

4. Any recommendation to put anything in the foil when wrapping or is it just the pork?

5. Would apple cider vinegar be better to put in the water cup vs. water? How often does that need to be filled during the smoking process, just once or multiple times?

 

Thanks in advance for all the help! By sunday night I hope to have some good bbq and good pics to share with your help!


I've never smoked a pork shoulder roast (aka Boston butt) but I've smoked a few things on my MES Gen 1 30" smoker AND I just attended a 6-hour BBQ class last weekend where I learned tons of new info and techniques.

 

First, I disagree with Foamheart based on my personal experience. Yes, the MES is an electric smoker but it comes with a WATER pan and the manufacturer advises to fill it with water every time the smoker is used. So, while there is a possible electrocution or short circuit hazard, it's not likely. That being said, Based on the advice of many knowledgeable MES users here, I fill my pan with clean playground sand and cover the whole thing with foil to use as heat sink.

 

I started out using wood chips and I was refilling the wood chip tray about every 30-40 minutes it seemed; whenever I stopped seeing smoke issuing from the top vent. However, I also thought some of the meat that I cooked in the beginning was too smoky. The "AMPs" that Foamheart mentioned--which is what I used now--is the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker (AMNPS). Yep, I never use wood chips anymore and the guy who taught the BBQ class confirmed that most backyard smokers are using wood pellets now because they last longer and do a good a job as wood chips. Todd Johnson invented the smoker and he has other products he sells from his website. He's one great guy and provides outstanding products and customer service.

 

A great method for cooking pork ribs is 3-2-1, where the ribs are cooked uncovered for 3 hours, cooked in foil with liquid added for 2 hours, and then cooked uncovered and slathered with BBQ sauce (if desired) for the last hour. Perhaps a similar method applies to a Boston butt but I would definitely add apple juice or cider--not cider vinegar--to the foil the pork is to be wrapped in. You can use plain water, but if you use an apple-based juice with maybe a little of the rub added, it would keep the meat moist and add a bit more flavor. Can't tell you how much liquid to use because it varies by what and by the weight of what you're cooking. You should only need to add the liquid that one time.

 

Also, I think 160 degrees is way too high (and took long to wait) to cover the pork since pork is done at 145 degrees. If you cook it up to and beyond 160, you're going to have one overcooked hunk of wasted meat unless you like yours VERY well done. If you prefer to cook it to 160 degrees, that should be your target temp for doneness, knowing it will be medium well to well done. Keep in mind that 3 hours of smoke is the most that any meat will take because of the chemical and physical reactions that occur on the surface of the meats. That's why after 3 hours many cooks will stop feeding smokers wood pellets or chips, why they cover the meat in foil, or choose to finish it in the oven.

 

And yes, I would stick the probe into the roast and wrap the foil around it. You want to make sure the probe is tightly wrapped to avoid juices leaking out from the foil onto the interior of the MES. If you piece the meat AFTER it's wrapped, you might insert the probe in the wrong spot and get inaccurate readings.

 

Remember--BBQ is all temperature--and time of course. You must have a quality thermometer that measures the temp of both the ambient air and of the internal meat. Don't rely on the MES built-in therm.

post #7 of 7

One way to do it, but definitely not my way. I would say cooking to 145 and wrapping has to do with your preperation. I like my pork for sure cooked under the old 170 mark, when we are talking about chops. You really don't gain any smoke between 165-175 while cooking, but you do help get rid of some fat and the left-over juice is pretty tasty. There is absolutely nothing good about sand unless it is near a beach. Apple juice works very well in the water pan in my opinion, but I did say opinion. If there are a couple of spots that seem too "smokey", don't you think that will work its way into the rest of the pulled pork? KEEP IT SIMPLE STUPID. Use a great rub and smoke your heart out! When you don't have thin smoke then add some more, but I can also say it will take a few mins for new chips to light and produce. 3-2-1 is the countdown for the ribs you don't have, But when you do grab some ribs do a little research first. Always make sure that you take a boston butt to 195 at least and you will always be happy.

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