I used boiling water so that it would boil off before the smoking and cooking was finished. My inspiration for having part of the smoke be "wet," with water in the pan, and the second part "dry," with no water in the pan, was this article:
Really fast. It was up to 120 degree, from room temp, in less than 45 minutes. I started at 225. That was as hot as I ever set the smoker. I then lowered it down to 200 degrees after about 75 minutes. I used 225 degrees because most of the beef recipes at the Masterbuilt site suggest this as the temperature to use:
I was simply following the directions given by Masterbuilt in their instruction manual. Here is the direct quote:
- "Pre-heat smoker for 30 to 45 minutes at max temperature before loading food."
I would think that if you started cold, and then put the food into the smoker and also the chips, the electric heater would absolutely nuke the wood chips resulting in way too much smoke during the first part of the process. By having it preheated, assuming you don't leave the door open for five minutes, the heater should only cycle on for a relatively short time during the first 10-15 minutes, resulting in much more even smoke. I'm sure this is why I didn't have to add chips until over an hour had gone by, and even then, I still had TBS.
Wow, that seems pretty high IT to me. I've cooked meats to that temperature when I want them to fall apart, like a pulled-pork recipe. I still wanted to be able to slice this. There sure wouldn't be any pink left at that temperature, and I would think the meat would get quite dry. I actually thought it was a little dry, even at the 140 IT.
Yes, it is a natural gas grill (connected directly to my house gas line), but 21 years old. It doesn't have a "super high" sear setting. I did mention in my initial post that I might try using a blow torch or a cast iron skillet to provide a better sear next time.
I used hickory. I definitely didn't need to add chips every 20-30 minutes and didn't add a second lot until 65 minutes into the process. I don't find this a particularly difficult thing to do, so at this point, I haven't found the need for the add on smoke device. I'm sure I'd feel differently if I were doing an 8-10 hour smoke.
I disagree with that wet-to-dry post based on my personal experience with my MES 30 smoking with wood pellets. I cook in a dry chamber and I'm the one who controls how much smoke is absorbed by meats depending on how many hours they're kept in contact with the wood smoke. I can tell you that it's easy to over smoke meat in the MES 30 and it's just as easy to control the environment so that meats get the perfect amount of smoke that pleases your palate. The same thing applies to cold smoking foods like cheeses.
But if that guy's technique works for him with his smoker, that's great. There's a school of thought that once a pellicle forms on the surface of meat (at around 160° IT) it prevents any additional smoke absorption. Most people around here have debunked that and I agree with them. I'm a minimalist when it comes to smoking. I use the AMNPS and wood pellets because I can precisely control how much smoke is produced inside the smoker. For long smokes, I'll foil meat after a pre-determined number of hours to prevent any additional contact with smoke while the meat cooks to the IT I'm looking for. Near the end I'll un-foil the meat for a bit more smoke contact after I brush on some finishing BBQ sauce for an additional layer of flavor and to add a bit of moisture to the bark, which is my own personal style of smoking.
I agree with preheating the MES; I was just disagreeing on how high a temp to preheat it to. And as I wrote previously I don't preheat my smoker to 275°. If my set point is 235° I'll let it get up to 250 before I open the door and place the AMNPS and the meat inside the smoker. My preheat process takes no more than about 30 minutes in warm weather. I rarely smoke in cold weather but I don't think it would take much longer than that. When it's hit 250 I put both the AMNPS and the meat inside the smoker.
The MES 30 is so small inside it recovers the heat pretty quickly, or at least mine does. And keep in mind that the MES 30 Gen 1 does not have a short heating cycle. The first couple are fairly long so you'll see temp overshoots and fallbacks. After the smoke enters its second or third hour you'll see the temp remain fairly stable and you'll see that the controller temp if not matching your own thermometer is actually pretty close. And with an MES you want your own therm. I use the Maverick ET-733. If the ET-733 shows me the temp is higher or lower than I want it I'll fiddle with the controller temp. Bearcarver has an excellent step-by-step for preciously controlling the MES cooking temps. But my experience with my MES 30 has been that the controller is programmed to cycle a few times during the early part of the smoke whether the door has been left open for a few seconds to a minute or not.
Yes, 190-200° is a high IT range but I was only referring to pork shoulder, beef brisket and boneless chuck roast and that's where you want those cuts of meat to finish. You want that high IT so ensure almost all the fat has been rendered along with the collagen and other connective tissue. Believe me, I've paid the price for undercooking those. And with those meats since there's so much fat to be rendered (even after trimming off the hard fat) it's really tough to dry them out unless you cook them a few hours too long. Tri-tip and other better cuts of meat are different. You want those medium to medium rare (I have to cook my wife's meats to at least 150 or she claims that it's still mooing). That's why I said your tri-tip was perfectly cooked.
Your grill is 21 years old? That's why I couldn't find it on the Weber site. I knew it was propane from the hose under the grill. When it comes to smoking I'm a minimalist and when it comes to grilling I consider myself a purist. That's why I love my Weber 22.5" One Touch Silver. To me, charcoal--either briquette or lump--is the only fuel for grilling and it's also perfect for reverse searing of meat. But yeah, finishing the meat in a cast iron skillet over high heat on a stove top burner or sticking it under a really hot broiler are classic ways to achieve this.
Did you still see plenty of TBS coming up from the top vent even though you didn't add any until 65 minutes into your cook? One thing to be aware of: you'll almost always see some smoke coming out of the top vent. With new smokers it could be from improperly pre-seasoning it. But after the smoker's been used quite a bit grease and other deposits will build up and they'll produce smoke. I'm not a fanatic when it comes to cleaning the inside of my smoker so I'll see some smoke rising out of the top vent while preheating. But once I place the AMNPS inside I start seeing real smoke rising. But from my personal experience when I was using wood chips that I would barely see any smoke after about 20-30 minutes and when I opened the MES door there was hardly any smoke inside. Many members here have also seen this when using wood chips with a MES.
However, as you said you didn't need to smoke the tri-tip for that long and one batch of wood chips should've been sufficient. And yes, for an 8-11 hour smoke that would've been different and that's when wood chips become a PITA.
Hickory is a great go-too wood for just about anything. For me it can be a bit too aggressive. I'd say my overall favorite wood pellet for smoking is oak; it's so smooth and mellow but I do use hickory a lot. When I smoke tri-tip I like using mesquite wood pellets to emulate the Santa Maria (California) style of grilled tri-tip. But I also prefer grilled tri-tip to smoked. If I'm grilling over charcoal I'll throw mesquite wood chips over the coals, even if I'm using lump charcoal.