Discussion, how to produce smoke ring in electric smokers?

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Another thought on smoke ring production.
Ok it appears with the correct briquet/wood ratio, it is possible to produce a smoke ring in a MES or any electric smoker for that matter. But specific to the MES, I now boil my water for the water pan and put that in with the meat or about 15 minutes prior. But now I'm wondering if that would be the correct procedure if trying to get a smoke ring with Dave's briquet/wood usage?
Heres the the thought, the smoke ring is produced when enough smoke/NO2 comes in contact with the moist meat and condenses, forming nitric acid. The acid dissolves on the moist meat surface and forms a nitrate ion (N03⁺). This nitrate then combines with the myoglobin forming a pink smoke ring. Ok so the thought is the longer the meat stays cool, (*remember the magic time slot is the temp of meat put in cooker up to 140deg, that is when the smoke ring is formed), the longer the meat stays under 140 the better chance of a decent smoke ring. Provided enough heat to cause the NO2 release from the burning wood. Therefore pre-boiling water for the MES may be the wrong procedure. Cold water in the cooker lengths the magic time slot, and thus a better chance at a nice smoke ring. In addition keeping meat at fridge temp until right before going in the MES would also work.

I have mentioned on two previous rib cooks, 1st with 6 racks, 2nd with 10 racks, I didn't pre-boil water. I had a difficult time getting the MES up to temp 225 and it took longer to cook by 2 hours +. However the ribs were excellent. Pre-boiling got the MES up to temp quick by comparison. So maybe I live with longer cook times and hopefully achieve a nice pronounced smoke ring.

Also I am curious, if the advice was to get briquets to "hot" burning before adding to a charcoal cooker, especially when adding briquets, due to residue in the binding chemicals maybe affecting taste/flavor of meat, is the advice different now?
Personally before the internet I added hundred of briquets to smokes, turkey and chicken cooks, to smoking fish, etc, using the weber kettle. No one ever complained about any peculiar taste/flavor.
I add boiling water to the pan and get no off taste from adding new charcoal. Keep your setup and toss in some briquettes
I'm enjoying this thread and I plan to test out some lump charcoal soon. A few questions come to mind, though:
  • Would I need more than a couple of unlit lump charcoal pieces, along with a couple of small chunks of wood, to start off with?
  • Is it better to start with the lumps and the chunks in the smokebox as the unit heats up, or add it after its at temp?
  • Is it better to add the meat right away, or wait until the first sign of smoke?
While heating it up, I'd toss in what amounts to a small handful and let it get going along with a small chunk. After an hour or so of warming at a higher temp, re-adjust to your cooking temp, toss in the meat, add another piece of lump (if they are big then you can break it in half, looking for something the size of a briquette) along with another chunk. Then a small wood chunk every 30 min, piece of charcoal every 60 min (every other time you add wood). If you like less smoky flavor you may want to go longer with the wood, but keep the same charcoal schedule.

This works for me, but it nothing very scientific
. I haven't tried any other variations because the results were great, but I'm sure there are many ways to make this work.

I also think a side benefit to using the charcoal in the MES is the heater gets some help (charcoal and wood embers add heat to the chamber) and doesn't work so hard (less cycling). Maybe helps it last a little longer
. I've been doing this for a while and don't see any problems with the wood tray or loader holding up to the burning coals.

Be sure to let us know how the lump works.
Wow. Thanks a lot DaveNH! I wish I would have read this before I smoked a brisket last night... so you had no problems with the temp? I would think it would be more consistent. I am definately going to try this the next time a smoke a brisket. What kind of briquettes do you use?
Likewise, I'd read this thread back a few months ago and get a nice smoke ring when I add either some lump charcoal or a couple of briquettes.

I appreciate the tip!
Mine made smoke rings today... I wasnt aware there were issues with not having rings.


proof of rings. no charcoal or anything, just wood hickory wood chips
Been awhile since I posted pics but here are some old ones I have on hand. Nothing special, Hickory chips/chunks and my trusty ole Brinkman electric.

I have to admit that the smoke ring is not the test of the Que for me and really not that important. Now taste, juicyness(SP) and a good texture are what are important to me. A blind man couldn't care less about color, but taste, now we are talking!

I think that I have noticed that the darker the smoke ring, the dryer the finished meat. Maybe I am wrong and I am wrong alot, but I suspect extended cooking times or high temps dry out the meat or over cook it to the point that it looses moisture quicker after comming out of the cooker.

I remember reading this thread awhile back and thought that it was way too far over my head. Yep, still is



for anyone who uses this method with the MES have you had a problem with the wood tray starting to deform? I have used charcoal in 4 or 5 smokes now and I can see right where the coals have been. I dont think that tray was ment to support the heat that coals give off. Also Ben that smoke ring was caused by the cure on the bacon wrap you used, if you dont use a cure or charcoal you wont get a smokering.
Hmm interesting point with the cures...

And im not a pro at smoking but Im pretty good with metals and I cant imagine the little trays being able to stand up to charcoal in them, I could very easily see them warping and would never consider using it in mine for that reason.
Read about it on the weber forums and verified by googling "kingsford charcoal ingredients". Several people have shared the response from the kingsford company, along with why they use each in their briquettes..
Usually, with my MES, I have some room left in the smoker or at least enough for a small smoke box.  I throw a couple of briquettes in the smoke box on a rack and then use whatever type of wood chips I choose in the firebox down below.  It's not overkill in flavor and produces a beautiful smoke ring.  I also add the water in the smoker as I preheat for 30 minutes.  Hope this helps.
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