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My First Smoke

post #1 of 3
Thread Starter 

So I popped my smoke cherry today.  Before starting I seasoned the smoker and used the opportunity to get a sense of the temperature in the smoker.  I just used a grill thermometer I picked up at Lowe's and from this I gathered that the MES was reading about 10 degrees low.


The meat of choice was easy.  I have smoked ribs on the BBQ before using a smoke box and an indirect heat method.  Flavor was always good.  Since the kids don't eat ribs I decided to do some chicken breast as well.  I put the chicken in a brine solution for about 4 hours.  Then I applied a rub and wrapped in bacon.  I followed the basic idea from the thread below:





Got this idea from another post on this site. Everything is better with bacon!



The ribs just a light coating of honey, got a dry rub and sat in the fridge for a few hours.  Both the chicken and ribs got the same rub.  It's the Caroline Q Dust rub.  I got the recipe from the thread below:




The Setup is pictured below.  I started with the AMNPS with apple wood pellets that were microwaved prior before starting.  I put water in the water pan as the air is pretty cold and dry up here in Canada and didn't want to dry out the meat.  I had the chip loader partially out just beyond the wood chip loader cavity to allow an opening for air to feed the AMNPS.  In hindsight I probably should have removed the wood chip tray above the heating element. Chicken went on tray 1 opposite the heating element, ribs went on tray 2.  




AMNPS in bottom with apple wood pellets, started out making nice TBS.


AMNPS is going well nice hot coal going after burning for about 10 minutes.



Off to a great start, AMNPS was going well. Temp was set at 220. MES was reading low when I previously ran it.



AMNPS making nice TBS.  Time to close her up and sit back.


Unfortunately 30 minutes in AMNPS went out.  I think it was starving for air and I was reluctant to open up air flow anymore than I already have as it was a cold and a bit windy day here in Canada.  Temperature was lower than the previous readings during the smoker seasoning, I attribute this to more airflow through the smoker.  With the AMNPS out of the picture I didn't want to be opening the door every half hour, so instead I resorted to using apple wood chips. This created thick white smoke for 10 minutes followed by thin blue smoke for about 20 minutes, then repeat.


Ribs after 2 hours uncovered.




Ribs looked and smelled amazing after 2 hours uncovered.  I put them back for 2 more hours covered in foil.


Chicken got to temperature within 2 hours. Chicken was moist, some flavor was intense.


Ready to eat!


The chicken was done at the 2 hour mark so I got to take out the chicken and cover the ribs all at the same time.  Perfect for a cold day!  The chicken turned out moist and the smoke flavor was very intense, I think because of the thick white smoke.  The wife felt it was a bit overpowering, couldn't really taste the seasoning on the chicken too much.


Ribs after 2 more hours covered in foil.



Ribs pretty well done after 2-2-1, just going back in with some sauce for about 10-15 minutes.


ribs after 1 more hour uncovered and 10 minutes with sauce.



Ribs are done!


Ready to eat. Smoke flavor was intense as well.


The ribs fared better than the chicken.  The smoke flavor was still very intense but I felt the ribs tasted good, the wife agreed.  I think I would have done another hour covered, I like fall apart ribs.  But overall I'm pretty happy with the results.  I now know what I need to work on.  Need to get the AMNPS to work in cold weather while maintaining good cooking temperature despite cold ambient temperatures.  Any tips will be very much appreciated.


I have read some thread already on it.  I know dust would work better, but I have 40 pounds of pellets I should use before spending more money on wood.  A mailbox mod might allow me to feed the AMPS without causing a huge draft but I hear the mailbox mod is not without its issues in cold weather.  I will try to do some dry runs with the AMNPS with the chip tray removed and chip loader partially inserted and monitor temperature and smoke.   Thanks in advance for any input.  

post #2 of 3

All things being equal looks like you had a pretty good day. I upgraded to a MES this year myself and also purchased an AMNPS. I have not used the AMNPS yet, like you I plan to run some trial sessions to make sure I can keep it lit. I did not see the temp you were trying to maintain but will assume it was 225. Also were the ribs baby back or spare ribs? Maybe the ribs needed a little more time due to the fact you opened the smoker a couple of times resulting in more recovery time - a lot of people say "if you're lookin' you ain't cookin'" . Did you add butter or juice to the foil? I've cooked a lot of ribs on my propane but have only done a couple of racks on the MES. I used the 3-2-1 even with baby backs and they have all been fall off the bone. Good Luck on your future smokes.    

post #3 of 3
Thread Starter 
Been having mixed results with the AMNPS. Did a trial run at 100 degrees. Double microwaved the wood pellets a minute each time. Removed wood chip tray. Had chip loader in. Smoked for about 4 hours no problem, I had to put it out.

When I tried to use it for pork a pork butt at 240 degrees it went out twice, third time I gave up on it and resorted to loading wood chips every half hour. My only observations were that both times it went out it was kind of windy, but more importantly I noted lots of humidity in the smoker when there's food in it and less so with a "dry" run. I think I might have to get some dust to try.