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Advice & Critique Please

Discussion in 'For New Members' started by ChrisJoll, Apr 7, 2019.

  1. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Chris Thanks for the like it is appreciated.

  2. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Motsoma Thanks for the like it is appreciated.

  3. ChrisJoll

    ChrisJoll Newbie

    Hi all, so tested out the thermometer tonight. It was off by 20*, the Bradley thermometer was reading cooler.

    Also, current outside temp is 49*, no wind, smoker was empty, and with the smoker cranked up full tilt it could only get up to 285* ... is that normal?
  4. GaryHibbert

    GaryHibbert Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I've never used a Bradley smoker, so I don't know how hot they get, Chris. On my MES, top temp using the stock setup is 275. I've added a PID, so my high temp is really only limited by the fact that I don't want to burn down my smoker. If your smoker simply won't reach the temps you want, there's not much you can do about it--just have to live with it. I learned a long time ago that I would never be able to get crispy skin on chicken or turkey in my MES--it just wouldn't get hot enough. It's just a sad fact of life that we have to live with the limitations of our individual smokers, or bite the bullet and buy something different.
    In your case, I wouldn't rush out and buy a new smoker right away (unless money is no object--which in my case definitely does NOT apply). Learn to use your smoker to the best of its and your abilities, and while enjoying the fruits of your labor, learn all you can about various smokers. Then, eventually you'll be able to say "Yes, that's the one I want".
    As for your question about adding liquid to a foiled brisket...... I've only done one brisket (happily, it was a success). I learned all I could ahead of time by reading everything written by the Brisket Master on this forum--Gary S--and following his advise. He adds nothing to the foiled brisket. So neither did I.
    ChrisJoll likes this.
  5. ChrisJoll

    ChrisJoll Newbie

    Thanks Gary! I appreciate the advice!
  6. Inscrutable

    Inscrutable Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    Yes, I had a Bradley, and had temp limitations I just had to live with and work around. Think that’s true of all electric smokers.
  7. ChrisJoll

    ChrisJoll Newbie

    Thanks all!

    I’m going to give the brisket and 321 ribs a try again this Saturday. How would you recommend I keep the heat up?

    I’ve read filling the water bowl with hot water rather than cold. I’ve also read that buying bbq bricks and wrapping them in foil would helps retain heat.
  8. Inscrutable

    Inscrutable Fire Starter SMF Premier Member

    I didn’t try any of that but shielding from wind and/or exposing to sun both helped.
  9. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    You said you can get 275 out of the smoker. The 3-2-1 is for spare ribs if doing baby back ribs it's 2-2-1 and both are the times with the smoker set at 225. Don't forget to add a little liquid when you foil and seal the foil tight, be careful when taking the ribs out of the foil they will want to fall apart but will stiffen up some in the last hour.
    Good luck with your smoke
    ChrisJoll likes this.
  10. ChrisJoll

    ChrisJoll Newbie

    That’s the weird thing ... so assuming that ambient temperature of my smoker on my first attempt was 20* warmer than it was reading, that means the 321 ribs cooked at around 225* with the brisket. Did I cook the baby back ribs too long then? They certainly weren’t FOTB after foiling with apple cider vinegar.
  11. fivetricks

    fivetricks Smoking Fanatic

    Your assumption is incorrect. So, the variances in your stock thermo and your 3rd party thermo will vary with both:

    A) the amount of thermal mass in the smoker itself. An empty electric smoker's stock thermo will read "off" by a different number of degrees compared to a quality thermometer when empty than when packed full of meat. Therefor you must test and take note of the average variances when the smoker is mostly empty, average amount of full, as well as packed. This is you getting familiar with your smoker.

    B) all smokers have "zones". If you setup 6-8 thermometers in your smoker, you will find that you have both hot and cold zones based on their location in relation to the burner and exhaust. You will want to familiarize yourself with these areas and plan accordingly. Perhaps by rotating foods periodically throughout the smoking session or by some other means.


    1. Fill your water pan with sand or gravel or something else with density and wrap the whole thing in foil. This will help to even out temp swings and zones within your electric smoker.

    2. Research other modifications that other members with Bradley electric smoker's have made to even out temps. Many members have your type smoker and your type frustrations and have found workarounds.

    3. Have you ever looked on a chart to see how electric ovens actually hold a temp? Remember, an electric smoker is just an electric oven you put smoke in. An electric oven simply holds an "average" temp based on how it is set. If you set an oven for 300, it's probably actually running up to about 310 or so, then turning the heat off until it hits let's say 290, then running back to 310. Rinse, lather, repeat. Those numbers are just examples.

    So if you're setting your smoker to 225, you're most likely spending a good deal of time below that temp which is at minimum dragging out the time of your smokes. So when you're making sometbing like 3-2-1 ribs which are based on time and not temp, you will run into problems.

    The point being that setting an electric smoker to 225 degrees, in my opinion, isn't necessary.

    Always cook to temp and tenderness. Let time be the only unknown variable. It'll be done when it's done. Good words to live by and the main tenant of bullet point number 4!

    4. Have fun, drink beer, and don't overthink it. It's not science, it's just science ;-)

    These are all things that will become first nature to you as you practice, practice, practice. Today's failures are tomorrows chili's if nothing else.
  12. Need to up the temp to 225 to 235 until IT is 160 to 165. Wrap and continue @225 to 235 until IT is 198. Perfect Pork Butt every time. Guaranteed At those temps it takes about 1 hour per pound of Pork Butt to reach the final finished temp.
  13. pineywoods

    pineywoods SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Administrator Group Lead OTBS Member OTBS Admin SMF Premier Member

    Yes add some liquid when you go to foil it.
    I usually smoke the brisket on the grate and when it hits about 160 give or take a little I place it in a disposable aluminum pan then add liquid usually beef stock and put foil over the top and make sure the foil seals tight.

    When you smoked the ribs the last time you said you didn't add any liquid and didn't seal the foil tight. Adding the liquid and sealing the foil tight allows the ribs to braise in the foil and they become very tender. When you go to take the ribs out of the foil for the last hour be careful they will try to fall apart. They will firm up a bit that last hour on the grate. If you want to baste with bbq sauce do it the last 30 minutes most bbq sauces have a high sugar content and burn easily basting that last 30 minutes lessens the chance of them burning. Most of the time I don't put any sauce on the ribs instead I'll heat some up and serve it on the side.

    Good luck with your smoke and let us know how it goes
  14. ChrisJoll

    ChrisJoll Newbie

    Alright, so reporting back in ...

    Smoked a 4lb brisket using same method but with a higher temp. Got the smoker up to 250* and left it in there for 4.5 hours. I was out, but when I came back it was up to 280*, so dropped it down a bit to 255*. It was done earlier than I thought. Used a probe thermometer and was going in and out super easy. Overall was good, much better pull-apart texture. I think it could have been a tad bit juicer and would have been perfect. Thinking I may try foil next time at the stall temp and see how that changes things.

    Ribs - Had one rack of baby back ribs, and followed 2-2-1 method. I really wanted FOTB. Smoked at 250* and did more of a 1.5-2.5-1 ratio and they were perfect!!! Completely FOTB with just a tiny bit of pull to them.

    This time did sausage and corn on the cob in there too and they turned out amazing!!

    Thanks for all the help everyone. Look forward to the next experiment!
  15. HalfSmoked

    HalfSmoked Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    JC in GB Thanks for the like it is appreciated.

  16. JC in GB

    JC in GB Meat Mopper

    You will get it figured out and be making pit-master quality briskets and ribs in no time!

    Happy smoking!
  17. While I dont have experience with Bradley electric smokers (I use masterbuilt MES 30) I understand they make reasonably good equipment so hitting a minimum of 250°F cooking chamber temp shouldn't be an issue
    By your description of issues, I'm with every body else on the " undercooked" thinking...and I'll also advise a good multi probe digital thermo.
    Brisket takes practice, practice practice...
    There isnt really a right or wrong with procedure or cooking technique The EXCEPTION might be in determining doneness.
    For ribs Smoken Al has a thread on here going called PERFECT RIBS EVERY TIME where he thoroughly outlines his technique which works very well.
    Chicken skin, like everyone else has said, is never crisp...
    I personally like to heat my propane deep fryer (Turkey deep fryer) to about 350° and drop my chicken in for about 1 and 1/2 minutes to crisp it up a bit...
    But as others have said a hot grill or broiler will accomplish the same thing.
    Good luck, take notes and keep the smoke rolling.
    ChrisJoll likes this.
  18. Holly2015

    Holly2015 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The few times I tried 3-2-1 ribs they were over cooked fall of the bone and mushy. Me thinks there is a temperature irregularity with your smoker.

    I don't cook BBQ by time but rather temp. If it reaches temp in 12 minutes or 23 hours its done. Some brisket are just tough.
    fivetricks likes this.
  19. fivetricks

    fivetricks Smoking Fanatic

    Yeah, not all meat is equal. Especially in the "choice" category. That's why many of us pay up for high quality meats. We've hit too many "choice" turds lol. You can earn the extra money back you spent on a nicer piece of meat, but you'll never get the time back you spent babysitting the smoker cooking a dud.
    JC in GB likes this.