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Charred meats

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by rbeals125, Sep 6, 2018.

  1. rbeals125

    rbeals125 Newbie

    Hi everyone,
    I received an electric vertical smoker from a neighbor who moved. It is a MasterForge brand which I guess were sold at Lowe’s. I am new to this way of cooking and need a little help.
    I have tried it twice, each time smoking a whole chicken and some ribs. Used Apple chips and apple juice in the water pan each time. The smoker has a thermometer on it and it never gets above 220 degrees. Here I wonder whether the thermometer is correct.
    I checked the meat temperatures with a meat thermometer after four hours and the chicken showed 180 degrees both times and the ribs after two more hours showed 165 degrees so they were supposed to be done.
    The first time the chicken came out fine other than the skin was really dark and not edible but the ribs charred on the outside and were tough. The second time the chicken was dry and again the skin was really dark and inedible and the ribs again charred on the outside and were really tough.
    Any suggestions before I try again would be greatly appreciated.
    A couple of other problems that some of you might not have, I cannot use any brines, spice rubs, aluminum foil wraps etc due to me wife having severe allergies so everything has to be au natural lol.
    Thanks for any advice and have a blessed day.
    SonnyE likes this.
  2. SonnyE

    SonnyE Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Hi Russ, Welcome to SMF.com!

    I run my smoker dry. That is, nothing in the pan. Water boils at 212°, generally speaking. Lower at higher altitudes.
    When you put any liquids in the smoker, it puts a ceiling on temperature. The liquid boiling off controls the temperature... o_O;)

    This stuff is new to you. And it is unfortunate you have several restraints to your method. You will find your way around the suggested recipes here. Just tune them to work for you.
    Cooking to me is always an experiment. Fun and fun to do.
    Sometimes it even tastes OK.... :p

    Otherwise 3,2,1 ribs are just wonderfully delicious. How to get around the foil wrap I don't know.

    Smoked Air Fried Chicken is really good too. This chicken was my idea to give my wife unsmoked chicken, and myself my own treat of smoked chicken, both with crispy skin.
    rbeals125 likes this.
  3. oldsmokerdude

    oldsmokerdude Smoking Fanatic SMF Premier Member

    Hope your not getting discouraged, there is lots to learn. My two cents:

    It is difficult to cook ribs and determine when they are ready by temperature. Yes, they are technically done at about 145 according to the USDA, but they won't be ready. The best (and I would argue the only) way to test ribs for being ready is by "feel". I pick mine up with a pair of tongs. I want the meat to bend enough that the top layer of bark "breaks". This is usually closer to 200 to 203.

    Chicken can be tough to get right. Chicken is one of those meats that really benefits from brining for a day or overnight. Also, to get the delicious smoke flavoring throughout, most cooks will "spatchcock" the chicken which is a fancy word for splitting it open so it will lay flat.

    Both meats benefit from additional moisture in the smoker from your water pan. Lot's of folk put flavorings in the water pan (juice, beer, wine, etc) but in my opinion those add little to the flavor profile and water works just fine.

    If you cooked your chicken to 180 it is definitely over-cooked. USDA says 165. I usually take my chicken breasts to 155 so they are still juicy. I try to get the thighs closer to the 165, thought.

    Lastly, you should not trust the thermometer installed on your smoker. Get a good probe thermometer that you can put near the meat that you are cooking so that you can get a true temperature at grate level. These are not very expensive and you can by multiple probe models for $30.

    Hope this is helpful for you.
    rbeals125 and chilerelleno like this.
  4. zwiller

    zwiller Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Good points above. +1 Never trust built in thermometers. Highly recommend a 2 probe remote to know for sure. Maverick is popular but plenty of others.

    Many guys think a rub/brine/injection is the secret to good cue but that is not true. The "secret" is mastering the basics. TBS for the duration of the smoke (look into AMNPS), consistent temps, and pulling at proper IT. Seriously good cue can be had with this alone. That said, brines etc have their place and add to the flavor profile. It will take some time to learn your smoker and develop the experience to pull it off but hang out here and learn and ask more questions. Generally, I find the more info presented including pics the better the results. IE what model of smoker? Sounds like an analog model.
    rbeals125 and SonnyE like this.
  5. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    I'm not a fan of using water or anything else in my water pan. I just don't see the need with my WSM. As for wrapping maybe you could use butcher paper instead of foil(check with your wives doctor). Chicken is done at 165*. As for ribs I agree with Oldsmokerdude, use the bend test to tell when their done. I usually pick them up about a third of the way down the ribs with my tongs and if they bend freely at about a 45* angle then their done. any more and they'll be fall of the bone.

    rbeals125 likes this.
  6. wbf610

    wbf610 Smoking Fanatic OTBS Member

    Can you use butcher paper for wrapping instead of foil? That may help retain some moisture in the ribs.
    rbeals125 likes this.
  7. rbeals125

    rbeals125 Newbie

    Thanks for all the great ideas. I am definitely not giving up and will continue in trial and error until I get to trial and success.
  8. zwiller

    zwiller Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    To me, the fastest method to get success is to smoke the same meat until you are happy with it. Much harder to get better when you bounce around from ribs, to brisket, PP, etc. I ruined alot of things until I finally stuck to ribs and got a good process down. I don't wrap ribs but I like the butcher paper idea. Chicks like pull off the bone and to do it you need to wrap.
    rbeals125 likes this.
  9. SmokinAl

    SmokinAl SMF Hall of Fame Pitmaster Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Well as you have found out there is a bit of a learning curve to smoking meat.
    A good dual probe remote thermometer will be your best friend. I put the probe in the thickest part of the breast & pull the chicken out when it hits 157 degrees. After a short rest on the counter the carryover cooking will bring it up to 165. That should be nice & tender & juicy. As for the ribs, they are a little harder to get a good temp, but if you want tender juicy ribs that are not quite fall off the bone your looking for an IT of 195. If you want fall off the bone ribs then they need to be taken to 200-205. If you took yours off at 165, they weren't even close to being done. They would be very chewy. If you can swing it, they are only about $30, a Thermoworks Thermopop will measure the temp between the ribs very accurately. Here is a link to their site: https://www.thermoworks.com/ThermoPop.
    Good luck next time!!
    rbeals125 likes this.
  10. gmc2003

    gmc2003 Legendary Pitmaster OTBS Member

    So now your calling me a chick?:mad::)

    rbeals125 likes this.
  11. rbeals125

    rbeals125 Newbie

    Thanks for the help and the information.
  12. rbeals125

    rbeals125 Newbie

    Thanks for the advice and the link.