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New guy, first smoker, any recommendations? - Page 8

post #141 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Smoke View Post

No moisture pan for me.

You definitely need to do more research. (: Here is a research methodology I would recommend for you:

1. Go to the store and buy a butt and some wood chips.
2. Put some salt, pepper, paprika, or whatever spices you have all over the butt. Soak the chips for 1/2 hour and put a couple handfuls in an aluminum foil pouch with some holes in the top. Put the pouch between your grates and your Flavor Bars as Weber calls them. Put the butt on a cookie sheet or a disposable aluminum tray and put it in your grill. Close the grill.
3. Light the burner under your pouch and adjust until your grill thermo reads 225 degrees or so.
4. This is the difficult part. Multiply the number of pounds your butt weighs by 2 and write that number down on your arm.
5. Reward yourself for completing that difficult task by drinking beer and smoking cigars for that number of hours. Do not open your grill because that means your are not drinking beers and smoking cigars.
6. When that time is up, wrap your butt in aluminum foil and towels and put it in a cooler or something for an hour or so.
7. Eat the pork and cry unfathomable tears of joy while the pork juices run down your face and onto your naked belly.

When you complete this methodology you will have everything you need to smoke at virtually no cost and will be well on your way to your first smoke! (:

Hahahahaha....... love it. But seriously, wet wood does not smoke until it is dry wood so no soaking.

post #142 of 155

Here is the link to the good version of the MES 40".  It's a lot wider than the 30" and you'd be able to cook whole racks of ribs without cutting them (if that's important to you).  It's $309, but you might want the added capacity down the line.  Good luck with whatever you choose.  

 

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B0048HU34Y/ref=wl_it_dp_o_pC_nS_ttl?_encoding=UTF8&colid=1BXQZHU6W1TRI&coliid=I2QMMEPNSFHWT2&psc=1

post #143 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Smoke View Post
 

I just read the whole thread and wanted to make a couple of points:

 

--You can smoke on a grill. I did it for five years on a Weber with their smoking accessory and it turned out good product. I ran one burner at about 30% and it maintained rock solid 225 degrees. Not the most efficient or fun way to smoke, but it did the job. I have my suspicions that all the smoke destroyed the grill over the course of five years because that grill self destructed rather quickly for a Weber. But just suspicions, no solid evidence there.

 

--Make sure you fully understand your requirements and priorities. It seems like set and forget is a priority (hence the AMZN interest). If that is a really a priority, you should get a smoker that is truly "set and forget," not a smoker that requires additional purchases to get to "set and forget." If you buy an inexpensive smoker that doesn't meet your requirements, but then have to buy a pellet tray, $35 worth of pellets, a decent thermometer, etc... your inexpensive smoker does not ended being so inexpensive.

 

--My buddy Mitch wanted to get into smoking and bought a Masterbuilt. Unfortunately most of his stories since then have not been about great smokes, but rather about his controller and heating element dying on him multiple times and waiting to get replacement parts from Masterbuilt so he could smoke. Not saying this is is indicative of the overall Masterbuilt experience, just giving you some anecdotal info that may be relevant to where you are in your smoking journey. 

 

--If you go the pellet route, make sure there are a few retailers nearby that you can get to quickly in a pinch. I have smoked with chunks and chips and I know that if I run out of wood on a Saturday night, or if I just want to try something different at a moment's notice, I can go to one of a dozen places nearby and get what I want. 

 

--I also went through the same search you did, seeking answers to my questions. I also came here thinking I wanted a Masterbuilt (mostly because they have the most presence in my retail market).  I now have a smoker I love that easily produces phenomenal food and it is not at all what I thought I would end up with before I read what this forum has to offer. 

 

--Regarding your questions about which meat and which wood: at some point you need to just buy a butt and some wood and just jump in and start gaining experience. There is no replacement for experience. Have fun! If this was rocket science I would not be able to do it (:


I fully agree up to a point about Masterbuilt owners, being as I am one. Where we agree is that those of us who buy entry level MES 30s are looking for a set-it-and-forget smoking experience. We're not Myron Mixon with his big competition rigs who maintains that true BBQ requires constant observation and interaction and not sitting in backyard lounge or inside on the couch drinking a beer while the meat smokes unattended. I bought my electric smoker so I could just sit back while the smoker did its thing until I was called on to foil meat or to brush it with some finishing juice or sauce.

 

My MES has been virtually trouble-free: no heating element or real controller problems. Because of the design of my smoker I do have to fine tune my set point when the interior temp remains a bit too low or when it overshoots the set point. But that's like smoking while being asleep compared to what's called for with a stick burner over a 16-hour to all night smoke. My smokes rarely exceed 6 hours and I've smoked a variety of meats and cheeses. From a flavor and presentation standpoint, I'll pit my finished products against any other home smoker. I'll go as far as to say by barbecued stuff matches or exceeds the products of every BBQ restaurant that I've eaten at in my area. The fact that four of them are out of business proves the accuracy of my comment.

 

There are highly experienced and outstanding smokers in this forum who use Masterbuilts. There are good machines that have come out of those Chinese factories (like mine) and not so good ones. Ford just recalled a few hundred thousand cars--AMERICAN MADE cars--that are potential deathtraps. It's just the nature of the mass-produced beast these days. If someone buys a MES which turns out to be a lemon, Masterbuilt will make it right--sometimes they just have to be pushed a little.

post #144 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post
 

Hahahahaha....... love it. But seriously, wet wood does not smoke until it is dry wood so no soaking.


Timberjet,

 

I just read a Mexican food recipe in a brand new cooking magazine which called for soaking wood chips for 30-60 minutes before being thrown onto hot charcoal or wood. It was a slow cook recipe using a grill as a smoker. It gets me that professional cooks who create and write recipes in cookbooks and magazines should know by now that soaking wood chips does nothing to extend their smoking life. Perhaps those cooks know very little about real BBQ so they fall back on outdated info, I don't know.

post #145 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by daRicksta View Post
 


Timberjet,

 

I just read a Mexican food recipe in a brand new cooking magazine which called for soaking wood chips for 30-60 minutes before being thrown onto hot charcoal or wood. It was a slow cook recipe using a grill as a smoker. It gets me that professional cooks who create and write recipes in cookbooks and magazines should know by now that soaking wood chips does nothing to extend their smoking life. Perhaps those cooks know very little about real BBQ so they fall back on outdated info, I don't know.

You know that is a good question. I think it's just such an old practice that people think it's written in stone. Doesn't make much sense to me. I guess it would be a way to add steam to the equation but that could be done other ways. I don't know. Just about every smoker owners manual calls for it too. I think a lot of these food writers maybe don't even make the stuff they write about. 

post #146 of 155


The reason to soak your chips is because on a grill in contact with a burner, the wood can fully combust (as I can attest, unfortunately).

post #147 of 155
Thread Starter 

Hey guys.  So I just tested my grill which I plan to use as a makeshift smoker until I can get a new MES 40 BT through Sams (they are out of stock - no word on when they will have inventory).

 

Anyway, I just tested my Ducane Affinity 4100 (4 burners, 12k BTUs per burner).  Man this thing gets hot.  If I turn on one burner and set it to the lowest setting, I could get the temps (if you trust the built in thermometer) to around 225F, and thats with quite a bit of wind and 58F ambient temps outside (it was cool outside).  Im sure on a hot summers day temps will be much higher (maybe +40F?).  I never paid much attention to it but wow, it gets hot.

 

So yeah, do you think this could work?  

 

On the plus side, a 20lb propane tank has 430k BTUs in it.  If I'm burning one 12k BTU burner on the lowest setting, and say it 6k BTUs to be conservative, then one $12 bottle of propane should theoretically last me ~70 hours.  That seems even more efficient than electricity :)

 

So what happens if I cook my ribs at 260F vs 230F?  Am I setting myself up for failure?  TY guys.

post #148 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by The Smoke View Post
 


The reason to soak your chips is because on a grill in contact with a burner, the wood can fully combust (as I can attest, unfortunately).


You sure you weren't using buffalo chips? :banana_smiley:(Thank you, I'll be here all week. Remember to tip your waitress....)

 

Anyway, I only grill with charcoal and I used to smoke with wood chips. Masterbuilt doesn't recommend soaking wood chips, though. A BBQ instructor told us that soaking wood chips gives you maybe 2-3 more seconds of wood chip than you would've had otherwise. So, when I throw wood chips over hot charcoal I no longer soak them.

post #149 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mummel View Post
 

Hey guys.  So I just tested my grill which I plan to use as a makeshift smoker until I can get a new MES 40 BT through Sams (they are out of stock - no word on when they will have inventory).

 

Anyway, I just tested my Ducane Affinity 4100 (4 burners, 12k BTUs per burner).  Man this thing gets hot.  If I turn on one burner and set it to the lowest setting, I could get the temps (if you trust the built in thermometer) to around 225F, and thats with quite a bit of wind and 58F ambient temps outside (it was cool outside).  Im sure on a hot summers day temps will be much higher (maybe +40F?).  I never paid much attention to it but wow, it gets hot.

 

So yeah, do you think this could work?  

 

On the plus side, a 20lb propane tank has 430k BTUs in it.  If I'm burning one 12k BTU burner on the lowest setting, and say it 6k BTUs to be conservative, then one $12 bottle of propane should theoretically last me ~70 hours.  That seems even more efficient than electricity :)

 

So what happens if I cook my ribs at 260F vs 230F?  Am I setting myself up for failure?  TY guys.


I can only comment on the cook temp since I know nothing about cooking on a propane grill or with a propane smoker. 260° should be fine. The ribs will just cook that much more quickly. I think you're good even up to 275°.

 

I think that was the average temp I got on my MES 30 last week. I cooked two racks of St. Louis ribs unfoiled for about 7 hours--which was a mistake. I think they were done at about the 5.5 hour mark because they were falling off the bone by the time I took them out of the smoker. They were really good but I like them a little less done. My wife and brother-in-law and my bro-in-law's dogs loved them!

post #150 of 155

Hi Mummel,

 

I think you will be fine, at least until summer. When you get into summer, make sure you have your grill in the shade (if you're still using it). What meat are you going to smoke?

post #151 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by timberjet View Post
 

You know that is a good question. I think it's just such an old practice that people think it's written in stone. Doesn't make much sense to me. I guess it would be a way to add steam to the equation but that could be done other ways. I don't know. Just about every smoker owners manual calls for it too. I think a lot of these food writers maybe don't even make the stuff they write about. 


I heard a little 5-minute radio feature where two cooks/bloggers were talking about how badly edited many cookbooks are. I don't know for sure but I think certain cookbook publishing houses establish procedures and then lock them in stone no matter what changes in the real world.

 

I just checked two smoking books I own that I think are among the best. Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe in "Slow Fire" talks about taking handfuls of wood chips or chunks but says nothing about soaking them. In "Smoke & Spice" Cheryl and Bill Jamison advise soaking wood chips for at least 30 minutes to produce smoke not flame. However, from personal experience I've gotten exactly the same amount of smoke whether the wood chips were soaked or not. So I don't smoke them.

 

However, I'm going to make an exception for grilling pizza and beer can chicken where I add wood chips for extra flavor. If I'm grilling steak I don't care that much about flame ups. But with the pizza and chicken I don't want flames charring the crust or the chicken skin before the rest of the pizza or chicken is done. So, for those reasons only I'll soak the wood chips. But, as you said, Timberjet, the wood chips add steam and that's one component I don't like at all when I'm grilling but with the heat from the charcoal the steam is quickly gone and, besides, you don't want to throw on chips that much anyway since you're only going for a touch of smoke flavor anyway.

post #152 of 155
Cooking on the grillis no problem at all. You might just need to fiddle a bit more to maintain your temps, and you will need to change your smoke pouches if that is what you are using.

Also, ribs can be cooked in the low 300s. I have cooked turkeys at 325, with smoke pouches, on a gasser and had great smoke penetration. The lower you can get the better though because you want a lot of smoke to hit those ribs.
post #153 of 155
Thread Starter 

Thanks guys.

post #154 of 155
Quote:
Originally Posted by mummel View Post
 

Hey guys.  So I just tested my grill which I plan to use as a makeshift smoker until I can get a new MES 40 BT through Sams (they are out of stock - no word on when they will have inventory).

 

Anyway, I just tested my Ducane Affinity 4100 (4 burners, 12k BTUs per burner).  Man this thing gets hot.  If I turn on one burner and set it to the lowest setting, I could get the temps (if you trust the built in thermometer) to around 225F, and thats with quite a bit of wind and 58F ambient temps outside (it was cool outside).  Im sure on a hot summers day temps will be much higher (maybe +40F?).  I never paid much attention to it but wow, it gets hot.

 

So yeah, do you think this could work?  

 

On the plus side, a 20lb propane tank has 430k BTUs in it.  If I'm burning one 12k BTU burner on the lowest setting, and say it 6k BTUs to be conservative, then one $12 bottle of propane should theoretically last me ~70 hours.  That seems even more efficient than electricity :)

 

So what happens if I cook my ribs at 260F vs 230F?  Am I setting myself up for failure?  TY guys.

Just do it. Haha.... I don't know how much I would trust that built in thermometer. I have yet to see one that is right. Get yourself a digital, even a cheap one will be much more accurate than what comes with your grill.

post #155 of 155
Thread Starter 

Ok sorting it out, will report back once I have everything. 

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