Wow. Smoking meat should come with a disclaimer. When I'm grilling, I'm always busy running around. But watching my Maverick 733 for 6-7 hours resulted in A LOT of beer drinking ahaha. A LOT. The wives were out shopping and my buddies and I enjoyed the glorious weather. What a great day it was.
In short, I'm sorry to report there were absolutely no notes taken of who did what and when. It's all a blur. Everyone just chipped in and helped out hahahha.
But here are my observations:
1) The AMPS tray is a neat tool. I used 16oz of Pitmasters mix in two rows and it burned to the middle point (they tray probably does offer ~11 hours of smoke as advertised). It was easy to light (I watched Wade's video, microwaved the pellets etc). Very simple. Not sure why other guys struggle. This was my first time and it was so simple. +1 to whoever recommend the self-igniting blow torch. I had a bunch of those Coleman propane camping bottles lying around and it worked like a charm at minimal cost. I was very happy. NEGATIVES: On the Amazen site it says 15oz gives you an 11 hour of smoke. I used 16oz in 2 rows for ~6 hours. I packed the rows thick like Wade recommended (and maybe the whole tray would take ~22oz?). Perhaps it was more than I needed? But the actual pellet numbers on the Amazen site seem way off. Thoughts?
2) My grill unfortunately will not work for smoking. The smoke ultimately failed. The AMPS remained perfectly lit throughout the smoke. It never died. It worked great. But I suspect that the grill's ventilation is too much to lock smoke into the main chamber. Because this was my first time, I wasnt sure what to expect smoke wise (I'd watched vids but I couldnt be certain if it was working or not). My hope was that even though I saw no smoke, once I sunk my teeth into the ribs, the flavor would be there. But other than the 10 minutes after putting the AMPS inside, I did not see any smoke exiting the grill. I was looking for that thin blue smoke, but saw nothing. And when it was time to chow down, the food did not taste smoked at all. It looked great, but it did not taste smoked. Big bummer!
3) The Maverick 733 was easy to setup and worked great. What a handy gizmo. I read some guys had trouble with the UI and remembering the settings etc. It was simple. NEGATIVES: the probe cables are too short. I made them work, but they are too short. Why they sell them so short doesnt make sense at all?? -1 for Maverick.
4). The temps in my grill were really tough to control in the beginning (at least +- 30F above and below). But after about 30min of tinkering, I managed to get the temps just right within +- 8F. The Maverick alarm stopped going off. I marked the burner's dial with a Sharpie. Temp control in my grill works!
5) Gas used was much more than expected. I did not weigh the bottle, but I'm guessing I used 40% of a 20lb bottle over 6-7 hours. Not good. I only had one burner going set at 60% on the dial. But it used more gas than I thought. But considering it costs $4 for 6-7 hours, its not bad (I wonder how many KwH an MES would have used over that same time frame).
6) The ribs - everyone liked them. I'm more critical. I did not. Zero smoke flavor aside, I thought they were dry. I love FOTB, juicy type ribs. These were too dry. Granted I left them in the oven 20min longer than I should have. That would be beer related...... But I think I went 2.5 : 2.5ish? : 1h 20min. But they looked great when served! I used Bear Carvers recipe and went with the TGI Friday's rub, kept in fridge over night, smoked at 230F. OTHER: I need to figure out if Costco ribs have membranes, I was sure and couldnt get anything off. Do you guys put rub on the bone side? I assumed so which is what I did. The apple juice went all over my oven. The wife was not happy and now I have cleaning to do after work...! Even though I double foiled, next time put a glass dish underneath!!
7) The salmon - big flop. It was very dry. No smoke flavor. And tasted like a salt lick (I'm sensitive to salt). No one liked the salmon. I did it at 230F for ~1 hour (not sure?). I used the Maverick and pulled the salmon off when the internal temp hit 145F. Thinking about it now, I should have dialed down my burner to the minimum (I did not think about it at the time, beer related.....). But it was getting late and probably would not have worked anyway. I used Bear's recipe for the brine and stored uncovered in the fridge over night. I need to figure out how to cook salmon properly. It's got to be soft and juicy. Soft and flaky is not for me.
8) The ABTs - yeah baby! What a hit. Everyone loved them. Again I'm critical and I thought the bacon was overcooked. I would have preferred it juicer/softer & less crispy. But this was the first time I'd ever eaten one and they were delicious! I used this recipe: http://www.theblackpeppercorn.com/2012/03/atomic-buffalo-turd-jalapeno-poppers-aka-a-b-t/
9) TGIs Jack Daniels Rib sauce - YEAH! It was fantastic. We used this recipe: http://spicysouthernkitchen.com/jack-daniels-ribs/. Unfortunately I will never be able to replicate it. There were multiple chefs involved in this one and no one knows what went it it. It was a cluster ^$%#. We forgot about it so I dont know how long it simmered for. It went for a LONG time. The whiskey shots didnt help either........ But it was great (very spicy, a lot of paprika). You guys have got to try it. Delicious.
So in short, we had an epic fun Mother's Day. I really enjoyed it.
As for smoking on my grill in the future - it wont work. I need to figure something else out. I dont want to drop $400 on an MES and my wife really does not like the idea either (space considerations, storage, will we use it enough and obviously cost). For now, it's back to the drawing board. But I will figure it out because I can't wait to do this again. Hope you all had a great weekend too !!!!!!