Originally Posted by dbbyleo
I should find my new MES 40 (Gen1) from Amazon when I get home from work. I've downloaded the manual and read in advance what I have to do to "pre-season" the smoker. It bascially said to run it at 275 degrees for about 3 hours. In the last 45 min, it states to add the wood chips.
Is that about it?
I've read here people doing a "break-in." Is basically just the first thing they smoke after the "pre-seasoning" is done? Is there anything purposeful I need to know about this? I'm thinking about doing some boneless, skinless chicken breast (from Costco) as my trial run. Like another fella noted, if I screw this one up, it's just $2 worth of meat.
Also, I also bought the AMNPS and a pound of AMNS pellets (apple). I've got trout caught this season in the freezer that's been waiting for the smoker. I think I'm just going to pick some hickory chips locally and use that to do the pre-seasoning and the break-in with chicken (and save the apple pellets for when I'm ready for the trout).
Anything else you guys recommend I do or keep in mind?
That's all I did when I seasoned my MES 30 Gen 1. I didn't and still don't spray the inside and I've done no mods, other than switch to using wood pellets with my AMNPS.
As for what to smoke first, the Gen 1 smokers are built so well the only way you can screw up the meat is to oversmoke, something I found very easy to do when I started out using wood chips. I buy all my wood pellets from Todd Johnson. I've got them in every flavor I feel I need. In addition to hickory and apple, I think you should also have oak, mesquite, alder, and pecan. You already got a bag of his Pitmaster's Choice with your AMNPS. That has cherry wood in it. Cherry wood burns easily as a wood chip but it's hard to keep lit in wood pellet form which is why it's often mixed with hickory or oak or some other easily-burned wood. A number of guys also like using maple (I never have) and now Todd's added all these exotic flavors to his stock like wine barrel and others. For now, I just stick with the classics. I'll also mix hardwoods with fruitwoods for more complexity of flavor.
The biggest cleaning and preventive maintenance tip to keep in mind is this: clean the two sensor on the inside back wall. On the left side there's a round, dime-sized notched hi-temp cutoff switch. When this thing gets dirty the MES can overheat into the 300° because the sensor isn't able detect high temperatures in order to send a command to the controller to turn off the heating element. This happened to me once and figured out what happened, thanks to Todd. Now, I wipe it down with a damp paper towel and for extra measure clean out each notch with a toothpick if I feel they've gotten to grimy from smoke. The temperature sensor is the toggle-switch looking thing on the right side. I think a lot of temp inaccuracies and fluctuations are caused by a dirty sensor for obvious reasons. Just wipe it off with a damp paper towel.
Heavy duty foil is your friend. Foil over anything that grease and fat might drip down on. I also keep the water pan empty and foiled over. Some guys fill it with clean playground sand and use it as a heat sink. Don't fill it with water because then it acts as a steamer and you want your meats roasted over wood smoke and not steamed. @Bearcarver has erected a moveable heat baffle in his MES 40 because it tends to run hotter on the right side than on the left. He readjusts the baffle as needed during a smoke to equalize the heat between the two sides. In my MES 30 I've seen my smoker grow hotter on the right side, equalize, and the grow hotter on the left side during a smoke. I just leave it be. Bear says that since the MES 40 is larger it's wise to use a heat baffle. He's posted photos of the ones he's constructed.