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a newbie question about the MES

post #1 of 21
Thread Starter 
alright so I got a 30" MES about 2 weeks ago. First time I smoked I used way to many woodchips and chicken tasted horrible. Second time with stuffed pork chops will less than half of the wood from the first smoke, still a little too smokey. I was reading through the archives and I found a thread saying to use 2-5 soaked chips every half hour, then everyone said it wasnt enough and they used more. I plan on smoking two 6# bone in butts this weekend and I dont want to ruin that much meat but I still want smokey flavor. The barbeque books I bought said you can hit butts hard with smoke. I know this question has been asked before probably a number of times but how many chips should I use per half hour for butts, and how many for other meats? I know I want thin blue smoke but how do you personaly achieve this? Thanks in advance, Ive been lurking for a while and everyone seems extremely helpful.
post #2 of 21
first off, I would'nt soak the chips, they just take longer to start smoking!
make sure you have the top vent wide open so you dont build creasote
someone else that's an MES expert will chime in here soon.
I use a GOSM and load my wood box heavy and let her eat!
I dont use the chip tray that came with it, I made a larger one out of a pan I had and
I can put enought chunks in it to make smoke for 3 - 4 hours before it needs any addtional wood.
that my 2 cents, im sure the other guys will be along shortly with more info for you.
post #3 of 21
I find that with my MES, I put in one small handful of dry chips every 30-45 minutes depending on the level of smoke coming out the top vent, which as previously noted needs to be wide open. I would put both butts on the left side of the smoker, insert temp probe, and take it up to 160 internal. My MES runs about 30 degrees hot, so I set it for 190 and go from there. I quit adding chips once the internal hits 140. As you gain experience you'll find out what works for your situation.
post #4 of 21
I'm certainly no MES expert but I would agree that you need to keep the vent wide open. Try chunks instead of chips, they will burn slower and no soaking needed. Remember the rule that if you can smell smoke then you are smoking.
post #5 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for the replys. I have been using the smoker with the vent 100% open. I would try chunks but I was given a large amount of chips from my girlfriend's parents... Ive also noticed that my MES runs 30 hotter then what it says. so I am thinking about around 7 chips unsoaked every 45 min or so? Ive noticed from my previous smokes where I used too many soaked chips that smoked stoped after about 20-25 min after added. Woodentrout, did you notice if the smoke started off white and thicker then changed to thin? or was it thin the entire time? thanks again
post #6 of 21
I am not sure what all you have been smoking but I can tell you that I add about 1/2 cup of chips soaked or unsoaked when there was absolutely no more smoke coming out. I smoke briskets, chickens, sausage, pork and steak and I pretty much do it all the same way. 1/2 cup of chips spread out across the tube and drop it in... it will smoke a lot for the first 10-15 and then settle down to a low smoke level as it smolders.

What kind of wood are you smoking with? Perhaps another more subtle flavor like applewood?

There are a lot of techniques that different people will give you but I think in the end you will have to find one that flavor you like best.

P.S... does this free wood have bark? Take it off!
post #7 of 21
Makes a difference what type of wood your smoking with. I use less of the mesquite. More of the hickory and much more when smoking with fruit wood. I should say I apply it longer. I've found a conservative handful every 30 to 45 minutes works with the chips I have. Put an amount in the hot smoker and see how long it lasts. You can pull out the tray and look inside the chip tray. If there are coals still burning you are smokin. If there are no hot coals its time to reload. I have to say it's an aquired method according to your taste in smoke flavor, the type of wood your using and also the brand of chips or chunks your using. The only way to really decide how much and how often is to watch it closely the first time and adjust. Just remember.... as you have already found out.... less is much better than too much. Good Luck!
post #8 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks everyone,

I was previously smoking with applewood but I was also adding more when I couldnt see smoke even though there were still coals. I plan on reloading less and I think I am going to use hickory. Thanks for all your help and Ill post some pictures of it to show how it went.
post #9 of 21
I guess I just got lucky with my MES. The temps are almost dead on. When I first started I was using an extension cord. Got rid of that and now the temps are good. I always soak my chips and add a half a hand full maybe every forty five minutes. Got mesquite from the back forty goin right now on a seven bone roast. MMMMM PDT_Armataz_01_28.gif
post #10 of 21
When I use chips I just springkle them with a little water or apple juice about 1 hour befor I start to smoke . If I remeber right the manual says to use a cup of chips to start and then add as needed. I add chips every 45 min. to an hour
post #11 of 21
I personally do not soak my chips , add 5 - 7 quarter size chips every 30 - 45 min , remember too that if you have water or another liquid in your water pan , that alot of what you see coming from the vent is steam especially in cooler weather , just go easy on the chips you'll be fine .
post #12 of 21
One more thing. Fill your water bowl with hot water, or liquid of choice. Does make a difference. Takes less time to reach internal temp if the water is already hot.
post #13 of 21
To avoid the thicker white smoke I load the chips in the loader drawer but dont rotate and drop them right away. Then I Crack the smoker door for a second or two to let out some heat. The thermostat detects the temp drop and the burner comes on getting red hot to bring the temp in the smoker back up. I give it about 2 minutes to get really hot. That's when I rotate the chip loader so the chips drop onto the red hot heater coils. The hotter the fire the thinner bluer the smoke. IMO

I once started the chips before the temps were up over 250f and got a lot of billowing white smoke and a huge creosote build up which negatively impacted the taste of a chicken I was doing. I actually had remove the skin so the chicken was even edible. PDT_Armataz_01_23.gif
post #14 of 21
One thing I've noted with my MES and sometimes do is to pull the chip loader out an inch or two when the smoke is white and thick. This allows more air into the smoker and increases the air flow. You will see the speed of the smoke increase out of the vent. I figure the more air flow at this point the better. As the smoking settles down I push the chip loader back in
post #15 of 21
Thread Starter 
Thanks for all the great responses! I feel a lot more confident about my smoke for tomorrow. Ive got a bunch of friends comming over and I hope I dont disapoint
post #16 of 21
This was an informative thread for me, thanks. I did an 8lb pork butt last Sunday over 7-8 hours in my MES. I used apple wood chips and set the temp at 225, and it came out pretty good. I didn't fully vent my chamber though, only had it cracked slightly open. It still came out good, I used the rub I found here, http://thepauperedchef.com/2008/08/smoked-pulled-p.html, and it made for a great bark.
post #17 of 21
Read this, it might help. This person suggested using some lump charcoal and wood chunks instead of chips. I've tried it and had good results with it.

post #18 of 21
Looks like you already recieved some good info, but here is my 2 cents for whats its worth. I just recently started smoking with my MES. I have been accustomed to using my homade stickburner, but must admit I am still learning quite a bit about that also. I first tried using some chunks and could not seem to get any smoke. At first I thought it was due to the size of the chunks, but then I realized I had inserted the chip tray wrong. Before noticing this I bought a bag of wood chips that were more like fine particules of wood with sawdust mixed. I think they were recommend for use with the Little and Big cheif line of smokers. The finer wood peices produced the right amount of smoke but I was adding between 1/2 a cup and a full cup every 30-45 minutes. I recently bought some Weber brand chips. In both Hickory and Mesquite they are quiet a bit larger (approx. 1 in long and 1/4 in thickness, and 1/2 in. wide) And they too seem to work well. As previous stated I noticed that with chips about this size I only have to add 5-7 chips at a time to produce the same smoke I did with the smaller stuff. Now its time for me to try some chunks again. I hope this helps you out.
post #19 of 21
I now only use dry chunks split in at least half. 2 peices per load unless real small, about every 45 - 60 minutes.
post #20 of 21
It's been a few months since I posted on SMF.
Many have added there input on wood chips and how much.

Someone mentioned what type of wood is a factor. I agree, presently I use hickory some mesquite, and almond.

Currently I start with a 1/2 to 2/3 cup of wet wood chips, after they get going I then pull the wood/tray/tube completely out and put in a 2 or 3 wood chunks 1x1 or 1.5x1.5 with tongs and replace the tube. The reason I pull the tube, if you load chunks that may be too big when dumped they may jam and prevent the tube from being able to pull out. I get around 1 hour of visible smoke this way. Notice the word visible, there is residual smoke still in the chamber even though the wood is consumed, the ash is still smoldering and the cooking area is most likely filled with smoke. I allow about 30 minutes for residual smoke to still be flavoring the meat, so on my 2/3 cup wood chip then 2 or 3 wood chunks I get about 1 to 1.5 hours of smoke. However I try to add either more chunks or chips every hour or so. You have to be careful about putting too much wood in the MES and generating creosote.

The 1/2 cup or more of chips has been strained by a 1/4 inch mesh wire ladle
. This is to keep the chips more or less a uniform size so I usually get consistent amounts of smoke.

No one has mentioned preheating your MES, I have written about this before, personally I preheat the MES at 270 for about 1 hour to completely heat all the metal components in the cabinet. In the winter add another hour if you are smoking outside. Why is preheating a factor? Because the electric element will work longer when the MES components are cold trying to heat everything, thus you will burn more chips or wood. After a several smokes you will notice that the MES heat/temperature recovery when the hatch gets opened is much better after many hours of smoking compared to the longer time necessary early in a smoke. If you preheat you will have better heat/temp recovery and hold temp better, thus use less wood, and use a more consistent amount of wood.
While the MES is preheating soak the chips and chunks (soaked is my preference). When your ready to add the meat that will drop the temp 80 to 90 deg. I keep the controller set to 270 add my wood chips and there is smoke in a couple of minutes if not sooner. When I have smoke I reduce the temp to 225 usually.
I use a remote probe to keep track of the internal cabinet temp. However so far my MES has been fairly close to the controller reading.
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