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Newbie MES40 in San Diego

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

Hi all:

New here... first time smoker taking the plunge.

 

I seasoned my MES yesterday and trying to figure out what to make the first time and how to do it.

 

A couple questions that are ridiculously basic:

1) Do I clean out the wood chips each time?  Or can I just leave the remnants in?

2) What is the deal with putting water in... when/how?  

3) Some people seem to use aluminum foil and some not.

4) Can anyone share a ridiculously easy chicken recipe (or chicken wing) that I can start with?  I feel like I really need some step by step instructions and not sure where to get them.

 

Thanks!

post #2 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by treeballcatfarm View Post
 

Hi all:

New here... first time smoker taking the plunge.

 

I seasoned my MES yesterday and trying to figure out what to make the first time and how to do it.

 

A couple questions that are ridiculously basic:

1) Do I clean out the wood chips each time?  Or can I just leave the remnants in?

If you mean when you add more chips, just leave the ashes in the tray. When your done smoking, then clean the chip tray out.

2) What is the deal with putting water in... when/how?

This is controversial. Personally I always fill the water pan, except when cold smoking. But I live in Florida. If you live in a cold climate then you may want to put play sand or lava rocks in there.  

3) Some people seem to use aluminum foil and some not.

If your referring to lining the water pan with foil, yes that's a good idea. It makes cleanup much easier. If your talking about foiling ribs, or foiling a large piece of meat while cooking it. That's a whole other subject.

4) Can anyone share a ridiculously easy chicken recipe (or chicken wing) that I can start with?  I feel like I really need some step by step instructions and not sure where to get them.

Use the search bar at the top & type in "Beer can chicken". Very easy, very cheap. A real good place to start.

Let us know what you smoke & how it turns out!

 

Al

 

 

post #3 of 6
Quote:
Originally Posted by treeballcatfarm View Post
 

Hi all:

New here... first time smoker taking the plunge.

 

I seasoned my MES yesterday and trying to figure out what to make the first time and how to do it.

 

A couple questions that are ridiculously basic:

1) Do I clean out the wood chips each time?  Or can I just leave the remnants in? Just dump it out when you're done or if you build up too much ash while smoking.

2) What is the deal with putting water in... when/how?  I don't add water.  I also leave vents wide open all the time. This is a topic you can search, too.

3) Some people seem to use aluminum foil and some not. If you're talking about foiling the water pan, sure, it helps, but invariably you'll have grease drip into the pan that will find its way through the aluminum.  I don't foil anymore.

4) Can anyone share a ridiculously easy chicken recipe (or chicken wing) that I can start with?  I feel like I really need some step by step instructions and not sure where to get them.  There are plenty of great, and simple, recipes out there.  Chickens are easy, but so are pork butts to start off your rookie season.

 

Don't rely on the MES40 probe!!!!! They're always off.  Consider getting an external probe or at least a meat probe from the grocery store.  Having a reliable temp is one of the main problems that will cause you frustration.

 

Thanks!

post #4 of 6
Thread Starter 

Thanks for the welcome.. well I went out and got a pork butt to go for pulled pork.  Go big or go home right?

 

My technical question is how do you know when to put more wood in to the MES?  Is there a way to see how much you are burning?

 

Sorry for the basic questions... really new.

post #5 of 6

Common question.  Unfortunately, you have to keep adding chips if you don't have an AMNPS.  Keep it smoking.  For a butt, you're probably going to get tired of adding smoke after 4 hours...but that's probably all the smoke you'll need to put on it.

 

Do your homework on here for how to smoke a butt.  You'll be fine.  You'll need a therapist, but you'll be fine.

post #6 of 6

Wow, a smoked pork butt is an ambitious first smoke!

 

I second everything already said:

 

  • no need for water;
  • clean out the chip tray after each use (the remnants will only give you a few minutes of smoke);
  • clean the trays and door gasket after each smoke;
  • line the water tray and drip can with aluminum foil (put it on both the top AND the bottom of the drip tray).

 

Also, put some aluminum foil under the front door, going all the way under the front feet, to catch moisture and grease that drips out of the front door.

 

To know when to add chips, look at the smoke coming out of the vent. Always leave the vent open. You can close it while preheating to slightly speed up the process, but I can't think of any other reason to close it. Also, I store mine with the vent open and, before putting it away after use, I leave the door open for several hours to let as much moisture evaporate as possible. You have more humidity in San Diego than I have in Carmel, but either way, the inside of that thing, if left damp, can (and will) mildew.

 

Another way to figure out when to add chips is to use a flashlight to look into the chip loader opening. You can then easily see how many chips are left. In general, when doing a smoke at 225-250 (the range you should consider for your pulled pork) you will probably need to add chips every 30-45 minutes. If you get tired of this, you can purchase the A-Maze-N 5x5 AMNPS smoker, and put that in the bottom of the MES, on the rails to the left of the smoker tray. I bought one a month ago (I've had my MES for about three months), and it is really good for two things: low-temperature (160 degree and under) smokes, and really long smokes, like the 12-15 hours it will take you to finish your 8-pound pulled pork butt.

 

The other advantage of the AMNPS is that is provides continuous smoke whereas the MES, except at really high temperatures, tends to give you smoke only when the heating element is on. It cycles on and off in order to maintain the temperature you set, so you will find that you sometimes get 3-4 minutes where the smoke thins out. For 225 and up, this isn't a huge problems, because there is still some smoke inside, but with the AMNPS, the smoke is continuous. For lower temperatures, you definitely cannot get enough smoke without using it.

 

Oh yes, for the pulled pork, you absolutely need to read some of the posts on doing this. Start with Bearcarver's "bible" on the subject.

 

Boston Pulled Pork-step-by-step

 

The key thing to learn about is the "stall" where the temperature of your butt will suddenly stop increasing, usually in the 150-165 degree range. It will do this for hours. I keep notes on all my smokes, since smoking is more of an art than a science, and even with recipes, you still have to adapt, and here is what happened with my first pulled pork smoke. Note that from 1:00 until I finally "threw in the towel" and put the pork in foil, the temperature did not increase by more than two degrees.

 

Oh yes, you must use a thermometer.

 

Pulled Pork Butt

3:30 a.m. Out of the fridge

7:30 a.m. Preheat smoker to 245°

8:00 Start cook at 245° w/ hickory chips

            2 cups of water in pan w/ ½ cup cider vinegar. Meat at 55°.

9:00 Meat at 77°. Adjusted MES down to get reading on Maverick to 245°.

9:35 Meat at 100°.

10:00 Meat at 115°. First mop with apple/rum spray

11:00 Meat at 135°. Mop.

12:00 Meat at 145°. Mop

1:00 Meat at 151°. Mop

2:00 Meat at 153°. Mop

3:00 Meat at 153°. Mop

4:00 Meat at 153°. Mop

5:00 Meat at 153°. Mop

5:30 Meat at 154°. Put meat in pan and covered with foil. No more chips

6:00 Meat at 158°. Increased smoker temp to 250°.

6:30 Increase smoker temp to 260°

7:00 Meat at 174°

8:00 Meat at 196°

8:15 Meat at 199° Took it out of the smoker, pulled enough for dinner, and let the remainder rest for 2 hours.

 

Total cooking time: 12:18

 

Next time: foil as soon as it starts to stall. In the above, that would be at 2:00 instead of 5:30.

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