So my wife got me the MES 40 from Sam's Club as an early father's day gift and what a perfect 3 day weekend here in Eastern PA to run it through it's paces! I'm not totally new to smoking...I've had a charcoal smoker for 20 years but due to the time it takes to babysit just to keep the temperature steady...I only ever really did a few smokes a year. I think with something like this where it's easier to control the temp (albeit still need to keep an eye on the chips to keep the smoke going...until I add an AMNPS :) )...I think I may get into this a bit more!
So anyway, here's how my Memorial Day Weekend smokeout went...
Got up early Saturday and started the first run 'seasoning' according to the manual. By 11am that was done, so I let it cool down and got ready to do my first smoke.
When I did the seasoning cycle, I was impressed right off the bat how quickly it heated up. It was up to 275 within 20-25 minutes. I was definitely impressed.
I watched the temperature remain pretty darn steady for the full 3 hours. That's what I was looking for in an electric smoker so i was pretty pumped about that!
As far as I'm concerned...the bluetooth is pretty much worthless and I wish it just had a regular RF remote. I have the smoker positioned on my deck right outside my patio door. My living room chair is about 12 feet away from the patio door at the edge of the living room/dining room (we have an open layout so there's no walls in between...just a glass patio door.). When I get over to my chair, the app is constantly dropping and reconnecting. If I move another 3 feet away...it doesn't connect at all. It's a really nice idea...but considering my phone can connect to a bluetooth speaker I have about 40 feet away...I'm guessing there's just a really weak radio in the smoker.
Being a charcoal user using wood chunks for 20 years, first thing I did was soaked my wood chips in water. As I found out, and confirmed by doing a little research here...that's not necessary and kills the smoke output. It just makes the chips smolder longer putting out less smoke. (Lesson learned!)
So anyway, back to my actual smoking...
First smoke was a 1 1/2" London Broil on one rack and a 4 lb bottom round roast on another. The london broil I left in too long...I checked it after 2 hours and it was already at about 170 degrees when I really wanted to pull it out at about 145. Oops...first lesson learned, need to really watch the smoke times because with a steady temperature it's gonna get done quicker. The roast fared much better since I knew now to keep a closer eye on it. Overall they turned out good, but I thought the smoke flavor was very weak (this was the first smoke I mentioned above where I soaked the chips).
Second day....3 racks worth of chicken thighs for a little family cookout with about 12 people. Soaked in a basic brine for a few hours and then McCormick Applewood rub. Kept the chips dry and smoked for about 2 1/2 hours. They turned out good...everyone said they loved them but I thought the smoke flavor was still a bit on the weak side. So I did a little more reading on the forums here and learned a second mistake...I was running with the vent almost all the way closed. My logic was that you want to keep the smoke in...but I guess I was mistaken, since the chips still need airflow to burn properly. So...lesson number 2 in regards to the chips learned!
So today it was a couple of racks of spare ribs....I wanted to save them for last to get some experience using the smoker. So I put them on with some Weber KC Barbecue rub, I smoked them at 225 for about 5 1/2 hours...and left the vent wide open the whole time. Had to fill the chip tray every 20 minutes or so....but I had a constant smoke going the whole time. That seems to be the trick...as the ribs had a really good smokey flavor, unlike the previous two days smokes. So now I know how what needs to be done in that regard.
Anyway...probably a boring story but I wanted to share as I was pretty pleased at how the food turned out this weekend (and now have leftovers for a few nights!). Now that I think I have the basics of how this works I'm looking forward to finding more recipes and learning new techniques. I may also look into adding an AMNPS as well for when I want to do more hands-off smokes.