Ok it appears with the correct briquet/wood ratio, it is possible to produce a smoke ring in a MES or any electric smoker for that matter. But specific to the MES, I now boil my water for the water pan and put that in with the meat or about 15 minutes prior. But now I'm wondering if that would be the correct procedure if trying to get a smoke ring with Dave's briquet/wood usage?
Heres the the thought, the smoke ring is produced when enough smoke/NO2 comes in contact with the moist meat and condenses, forming nitric acid. The acid dissolves on the moist meat surface and forms a nitrate ion (N03⁺). This nitrate then combines with the myoglobin forming a pink smoke ring. Ok so the thought is the longer the meat stays cool, (*remember the magic time slot is the temp of meat put in cooker up to 140deg, that is when the smoke ring is formed), the longer the meat stays under 140 the better chance of a decent smoke ring. Provided enough heat to cause the NO2 release from the burning wood. Therefore pre-boiling water for the MES may be the wrong procedure. Cold water in the cooker lengths the magic time slot, and thus a better chance at a nice smoke ring. In addition keeping meat at fridge temp until right before going in the MES would also work.
I have mentioned on two previous rib cooks, 1st with 6 racks, 2nd with 10 racks, I didn't pre-boil water. I had a difficult time getting the MES up to temp 225 and it took longer to cook by 2 hours +. However the ribs were excellent. Pre-boiling got the MES up to temp quick by comparison. So maybe I live with longer cook times and hopefully achieve a nice pronounced smoke ring.
Also I am curious, if the advice was to get briquets to "hot" burning before adding to a charcoal cooker, especially when adding briquets, due to residue in the binding chemicals maybe affecting taste/flavor of meat, is the advice different now?
Personally before the internet I added hundred of briquets to smokes, turkey and chicken cooks, to smoking fish, etc, using the weber kettle. No one ever complained about any peculiar taste/flavor.