Originally Posted by lacole
I have a Bradley digital smoker and I'm trying to figure out the best place to monitor the temperature using an external device.
I have found that the digital temperature is significantly off from the internal temperature (today I needed 225 and I had to set controller to 300 to achieve that). Starting today's session, I had the monitor clipped to an empty top rack above two prime rib roasts. About half way though I moved it to an empty rack between the roasts and of course got different readings.
The roasts turned out great but it makes me wonder where is the best place to monitor the interior temperature using an external device? If my instructions say 225, what part of the smoker are they talking about?
Finding the optimum spot(s) to place your therm probes can drive you crazy. The height will be different on different sides of the same rack, from rack to rack. from front to rear and side to side of the smoker. I've standardized where I put the probes I use. One always goes inside the meat if it's a beef or pork roast or if a whole chicken or a small turkey (or turkey breast). For smoking stuff like pork ribs, beef jerky, cheeses, and salmon filets in my Masterbuilt smoker, I place one probe on the left side of the 2nd rack and the other probe on the right side of the 3rd rack. In my smoker, the right side will generally be hotter than the left for the first half of the smoke. After that the two sides will either even out, more or less, or the left side might grow hotter. I'm also using the AMNPS wood pellet tray, which is placed on the left side of the smoker near the bottom. It also emits enough heat, I think, to register on the therm in addition to the heating element.
Like JJ and Al both suggested, you want the therm to read 225° where the meat is located on the rack. But if you're smoking ribs or a beef brisket that span the width of the rack, each side of the meat may be cooking within different smoker temps. That's why it's a good idea to turn them around once during cooking, or maybe twice if the side with the hotter temp changes sides.
I use the that BARBECUE probe to monitor the smoker temp. However the more important probe is the FOOD probe which goes inside the meat. You always cook to the internal temp (IT) that you've targeted. Knowing and controlling the smoker temp enables you to more or less decide on how long to smoke the meat until it gets to your desired degree of doneness.
Did you calibrate the therm with the probes inside a container of boiling water before using them?