So, I bought a new MES and a ProQ Amigo. I reviewed the MES Analog smoker in the review section (very good results BTW). This one is a different animal and for someone who has only used electric for smoking, it's a pretty steep learning curve. First, I think the Amigo is too small to do real smoking. It needs another stacker unit which I'll probably buy from one of the only sellers left in the USA on ebay (Weber must have run them out of town). It has a huge water pan, which is probably not a bad thing. However, when using it on the lower level, it touches the charcoal and I think smothers it. I've had it going now for 1.25 hours and I got up to 200, then down to the 180s. I took the water pan out and added some additional hot charcoal and the temp shot up to 202 quickly. Then I moved the water pan to the higher level right under the meat. It plunged down to 180 and is now climbing back up to 187. I went ahead and put the St Louis ribs on. I used the Minion charcoal method because this thing seems a little small to me and I was afraid it would get too hot...maybe I was wrong. The good thing is I can now put more charcoal in through the lower door and the water pan won't be in the way. I can definitely see the advantage of the larger ProQ models such as multiple vents on the bottom. This one has no vents on bottom. The pan sits in the lower base and there is an air gap all the way around that can't be adjusted. More to come...
ProQ Amigo -- First Impression
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...OK, I've now figured out that the water pan does not need to be completely full. I also found that placing it on top of the lower grilling grate makes temperature management much easier. The bad thing is it eliminates the lower grilling grate. Now, the extra stacker would be really nice! BTW, I'm using an oven thermometer and the Maverick ET73. Now when I see the temp drop 5-degrees every 1/2 hour or so, I go out and give the coals a little raking. They come back to life with vigor. Just before this entry, the temp got down to 222 and after raking the coals, it has maxed out at 246 and has held steady for about 10-min now. I am visualizing a couple of mods to this little smoker. I'll have to wait until it is cool to investigate them.
Ribs turned out great. Moist with a nice smoke flavor and even some bark on the outside. I was able to get a nice glaze on them before serving. I cooked them for 3hrs, then wrapped in foil with apple juice for 40-min, then another hour out of the foil on the grate. The final 20-min, I brushed on the liquid that I drained from the foil wrap (I boiled it down to thicken it first).
I think the Amigo is actually pretty good and I probably won't add a stacker afterall. My electric smoker is definitely easier, but this little bullet made me appreciate my work even more.