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Any Tips to Maximize Penetration?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I cooked my first shoulder last weekend, but I think it could have been a little smokier (it was ok the next day, but the smoke flavor was weak right after pulling). I've noticed this on many things I've cooked. Are there any seceret methods to maximaize the amount of smoke pennetration/flavor, especially when the meat is still warm from cooking?
post #2 of 16
Seems to me it does get smokier After in the fride overnight..

But how long, at what temp did you smoke for, kind of wood, and did you have TBS the entire time?
post #3 of 16

Foreplay? just kidding

Foreplay? just kidding....tell us what you smoked with, what rack or where you put the meat in the smoker, what you used for fuel, what temps you cooked it at and for how long. This will us give more info to help you;-)
post #4 of 16
Thread Starter 

I use the MES. Last weekend was with hickory chips from Lowes. Started at 170* for a few hours then brought it up to 220* for the majority of the cook and finally 250* to get it over the 189* internal mark (it kept rising to 191 then falling to 187* or so). Total cook time was 15.5 hours for a 7.5 pound shoulder on the second rack from the top.

I am having trouble getting consistant smoke output, but that's likely due to the cold weather and the amount of time the element is turned on. It seems to eat chips like crazy.

Smok'n Steve, I always do foreplay with my meat....PDT_Armataz_01_04.gif
post #5 of 16

No experience with MES,

I have no experience with MES, but the only thing i can think of is good airflow, good consistent temps, maybe 235 degrees at the meat rack from the start, and plenty of tbs wood smoke. If you were lacking in wood smoke flavor, maybe it has something to do with how you are burning or igniting it---you can probably tell--I have no idea about MES operations.

Maybe title a new post thread to attract the MES guys...."how to get enough smoke from my MES?"
post #6 of 16
Hi psychobrew...170 for the first couple hours, that could be part of the problem if that was your actual setpoint. The MES will control 170 easily and that will keep the element off which would equal weak smoke. Set it higher around 225 right off the bat and you should get ok smoke during the first hours of cooking. I'm no expert and haven't done a shoulder yet, from what I'm reading the hours (until 140 is reached) are where you get most of your smoke flavor.
post #7 of 16
Missed the last part of your post where you say the element was on a lot and using up chips like crazy.

Wondering now if you set higher than 170 but it was taking a lot of time recovering. I would think this would make for max smoke with the element going full tilt.

Another thing to consider, the water vapor escaping out the vent on a cold day can look like smoke even if you don't put any chips in. Maybe you needed to add more wood?
post #8 of 16


My first reation was...chips.....WHY not CHUNKS?? i have never used chips but it seems logical that CHUNK/WOOD would (awkward)... provide DEEPER PENETRATION. <--which is good PDT_Armataz_01_18.gif
post #9 of 16
Chips, chunks, whatever it's wood. If you smell and see the tbs, it's hitting the meat. The 140 degrees mark has to do with the formation of the smoke ring, not that the meat has stopped being flavored by the smoke. it will absorb smoke as long as there is smoke.

Keep feeding it chips, if you smell them and or see the tbs then you are doing the right thing. Make sure the smoke is coming out of the top and use a windbreak to keep the wind from interfering with a constant temp.

170 is too low, you should be maintaining a 225 - 250 degree temperature for the smoker if you can.
post #10 of 16
I have had my MES for 10 months and smoked several shoulders. Before the MES I used a horizontal charcoal smoker and wood chunks. I got more smoke penetration using charcoal and chunks. I traded that for the ease of operation with the MES. As you know, psychobrew, you can only use chips in the MES. For whatever reason, in the MES, smoke seems to stay on the surface of the meat rather than penetrate. None of my briskets have ever had the smoke ring I got on the horizontal smoker. But I love my MES. All I have to do is add a handful of chips every hour. No futzing with a gas flame or babysitting a fire! So the answer to me is to make more surface area by cutting the shoulder into smaller pieces. Therefore, more smoke covering the meat. I try to get four equal pieces.

As to cooking temps, the critical point is 160 degrees to 190 degrees meat temp. This is when the tough tissue breaks down. You want that to be low and slow, about 225. Getting up to 160, well, I push it there at max heat for the MES, 275 degrees, until the 160 mark, then 225 degrees until done, about 190. I have pulled the shoulder off at 185 with no ill effect. Keep the top vent fully open for good airflow. Fifteen hours is about right in my experience. And don't forget to wrap in foil, then old towels, and park the meat in a cooler for at least an hour up to four hours, before pulling. Makes it even more tender.

I bet your family/friends are lovin' all that great smoked food! My new discovery is hot smoked salmon, a whole side at a time. Tasty and heart healthy!
post #11 of 16
I've done quite a few pork shoulders in my MES and I've been happy with the amount of smoke flavor I get. When the smoker is coming up to temp, I set it at 250° so that when I'm done putting in the meat, the temps will be close to 225°. I keep the smoker temp in the 200° to 225° range for the rest of the smoke regardless of how long it takes. I've also been leaving the shoulders in a little longer, usually pulling them when they get close to 205°.

Maybe my preference is just a lighter smoke flavor than what you want. PDT_Armataz_01_01.gif
post #12 of 16
I hear you on the salmon, we have been smoking a few pounds every week. My GF and I love it! The MES was worth the money just for that.
post #13 of 16
Psycho, I know just what you mean; thick cut of meat and not enough smoke taste in the middle. (btw, add smoke to your thread title, you leave yourself WIDE open for some "jab" PDT_Armataz_01_28.gif )

When I make pork butt for pulled pork I smoke the meat the same as usual, rest, pull and put back into pan w/juices and let sit overnight. Next day I re-smoke the pulled pork and add 1 part a.cider vinegar and 3-4 parts aj. I also add more seasonings, like Jeffs rub(gives good bbq taste).

It takes 2-3hrs to re-smoke and add "flavor", I've gone as long as 4hrs. Every 30-45min I pull out the pan and "taste test" and add more a.c.vinegar and aj and spices(extra garlic for sure). mix it up before or after adding more, I usually mix before adding. Just go by your tastes. It's good, and I always do my PP this way.

Just an idea.
post #14 of 16
Thread Starter 
Thanks all for the tips. I started low hoping to give it some added smoke flavor, and there was plenty of smoke at 170 (I have the Sams Club version and believe the element has to work harder, creating more smoke). The smoke flavor on the exterior parts was really good, but it was barely detectable in the center. Could the marinade I used be part of the problem (Jamacan Jerk wing sauce)? I did not wipe it off before cooking.

Thanks for the tips. I've ordered some wood chunks from that I'm going to cut down for use in the MES. We'll see if this helps keep the smoke steady for longer periods of time. It is dificult to gauge how much smoke is being produced in the cold as well because of the steam.
post #15 of 16
Don't know what type of wood your using? maybe go with a stronger flavor wood.
post #16 of 16
Differents types of wood have stronger smoke flavor then others........Try using hickory or mesquite or oak....... I like mixing my woods......

Hope that helps.......
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