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Newbie to MES

post #1 of 7
Thread Starter 
Because of this forum I got a new MES 40" from Sams Buckner store. I seasoned it yesterday and prepped some baby back ribs last night. My questions for now are do I leave the damper open or closed during the cook and do you recommend using water in the pan for ribs?

Thanks,

James
post #2 of 7
Welcome to the site, this is a great place. I have a MES 30" and I use the water pan everytime I smoke for ribs, chicken, pork butts everything. One trick I learned here is to wrap it in Aluminum foil and then put the water in and makes for easy cleaning. As for the damper I leave mine close on all meats. I have only had this for a month and I'm still learning. Hope this helps and enjoy your time here.

Happy New Year
post #3 of 7
The damper should be open...icon_mrgreen.gif
post #4 of 7
I generally leave mine open while I'm in the add-wood stage so that the smoke continues to move and doesn't get stagnant. If you have it shut all the way, the excess will go out by the gaskets which is fine, but will eventually build up some "goo" there.

I use the water pan all the time too (except for stuff like jerky which I'm trying to dry out) as that helps keep the heat more constant if nothing else. Having the vent open a bit will let some of the steam escape too. Especially in cold weather, the steam can look quite a bit like smoke so give it a sniff (from downwind a bit so you don't cook your nose hairs!) to see if you need to add more wood.

Generally, I will keep the vent closed while preheating or just cracked, and then when putting in the meat and wood, will open the vent just enough to keep the smoke from going out the gaskets. Many people open the vent all the way and if I have a ton of smoke going I will too. If it's windy, the smaller opening seems to keep my MES smoking longer and it also seems to keep the temps from dropping as fast but I haven't really validated that yet. It makes sense to me, but maybe it's just that I'm hoping it lasts longer since right now it's cold outside.
post #5 of 7

This leads to another question

Do you need to check the the level in the water pan during the smoke? I know you don't want to open the door any more than necessary so should you need to refill the water pan?
post #6 of 7
Generally I don't have to add more water to mine during a smoke, although I've had to a couple of times but it's probably just that I didn't start with enough. You don't want to open the door all the time, but a quick peek at everything doesn't hurt the temps too badly. Using a couple of fire bricks in the bottom, or on unused shelves, also helps to keep the temperature swings steadier.

Most of the things that I smoke for longer times have fat/juices that render off and that tends to drip into the water pan keeping it filled. Once I did 8 butts at once and actually had to dip some out of the pan because it was overflowing onto the drip pan and out the back into the drip pan's catcher which was almost full.
post #7 of 7
I also leave my damper open all the way when smoking
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