First smoke didn't go quite so well! :-(

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Original poster
Jun 18, 2007
Hi all - received an Old Smokey Electric Smoker for Father's Day and got to try it out for the first time this past weekend. For those unfamiliar with the Old Smokey, check for more information. Basically, it's a vertical electric smoker with a thermostat. It has no vents which the maker claims is the reason it doesn't need water like water smokers do, as it keeps all the juices inside.

I was able to do two different batches this past weekend. On Saturday, I picked a nice 6.3lb brisket. My plan was to use the temperature and timings I've used in the past when cooking brisket in the oven, i.e., 225F at 1.25 hours per pound (or between 7 and 8 hours) with a meat temperature target of 185F. The thermostat on the Old Smokey worked pretty well as I found that a setting just under "medium" kept the temperature right at 225F. I also kept a Taylor thermometer in the meat full-time and checked it every 20 minutes (as suggested by the manufacturer) once I got past the first 3 hours.

Well, I managed to hit my 185F target after only 4 1/2 hours. I let the meat rest in foil and under towels for a couple hours but needless to say, the meat was slightly tough. I thought maybe the thermometer on the lid of the smoker was off so I double-checked it with two other thermometers, and all three were within 5 degrees of each other.

On Sunday, I decided to do a 2.3lb slab of baby backs. I WAS going to follow the 2-2-1 method with a target meat temperature of 168F, but I actually overshot that target temperature in only 2 hours, so never got to do the rest of the 2-2-1 method! The meat was tender and very good, but baby backs always are and it still bothers me how quickly this thing cooks.

So - I have an e-mail into Old Smokey detailing the above experience. They say in their documentation that in addition to keeping the juices in, the sealed lid also allows the meat to cook faster. I'm wondering if this is the reason why my meat temps rise so quickly? In which case, I wonder if I should be cooking at an even lower temperature to compensate? So far, no response from them yet.

Question to the forum - how low can the smoker temperature be and still avoid having the meat go bad?

Sounds like the temp was too high. I was listening to a smokehouse restaurant owner and he was saying he did all his smoking at 200. Also, are there any vents? When you hear back, let us know. I might also add this....don't get discouraged, we've all suffered setbacks, that's what makes this so much fun! You want to keep trying and do better the next time similar to golf). Try some more, say with chicken quarters or whole and play around. You will get the hang of it, each smoker has it's little idiosyncrasies.

Also, I'd try putting some water in the drip pan, what can it hurt?

Wne to the site via your link, here is your answer;

Also, the top seals tightly during cooking to keep smoke and flavor inside and reduce cooking time.

Look at the manual section under recipies...brisket calls for 30 minutes per pound. So 6lbs would take 3 hours total according to the manual.
FlaGriller - thanks for your reply! I did read those same sections in the manual and the quicker cooking times just didn't make very much sense to me. I mean, I just don't see how cooking brisket for 3-4 hours would result in anything but tough brisket, sealed lid or not. I'm hoping to hear back from them to shed some light!

I'm also thinking of trying to prop the lid up a little bit to see if that helps a bit. We shall see!

Edit: I guess I understand how a pressurized chamber can lead to higher temps (I remember Boyle's Law from High School! :-)), but my thermometers confirmed I was cooking at 225F. I'm wondering if the high pressure causes the meat to cook faster without a rise in the cooking temp?
Odd, I'd be worried about creosote and harsh tastes if there were no vents.... Seems like a vent or a loosely fitting lid along the lines of the ECB would be an absolute necessity! You didn't mention a harsh smoke flavor though so maybe I'm missing something???
Check our Electric Smoker section on the main Forum page to see if there are any mods you can make to your smoker to improve the results.

Also....DeejayDebi has a Time/Temp chart that you can download from her web site.....

Keep plugging.....we'll get a good smoke going for ya yet...
Hi Payson - the smoky taste was just right, in my opinion. I think, since the lid was sealed and there were no vents, the lack of fresh air tempered the smoke generation somewhat, and it worked out to be just right.

I started with a couple handfuls of wood chips and did not replenish. Although the heavy smoke died down after the first hour or so, I think there was still light smoke being generated throughout the rest of the cooking period.
I'm wondering if the high pressure causes the meat to cook faster without a rise in the cooking temp

Yes it can, for example, pressure cookers. In fact KFC uses pressurized deep fryers! I still think putting some water in the drip pan would help. Maybe the answer is a small vent at the top?
Please post the info you get from the mfg.

And don't get discouraged, things will work out and you'll get it down, heck you've got pleanty of time. Most important though, don't let frustration show through to the family they got it for you because they love you.
Just say it's work in progress.

Interesting, the lack of oxygen aspect never dawned on me. Sounds like your assessment is dead on. FlaGriller's pressure cooker analogy makes good sense too!
Well yes. There is just enough O2 to keep smoke going but not enough to produce flame. I would think this to be good as it would prevent over smoking, IOW making the meat to smokey tasting to eat.
Hi all - I finally heard back from Old Smokey on the issues I had with my first smoke. Below is what they said:
2 things. Yes the sealed lid keeps the heat & heat energy inside.
Second, the thermometer temp is only part of the story. The atmosphere
inside the Old Smokey Electric Smoker is smoke and lots of steam. Steam
has its own kind of cooking energy. Steam at 220 or so is "hotter" than
dry air at 220. You know how you feel hotter on a humid day? Same deal.

So for long cook times for large pieces of meat that will drip a substantial
amount of water in the pan, turn the dial down lower & go slower. With
lots of water in the pan, there will be more steam.
What they say makes sense and was even in line with what I was suspecting, that the steam causes the meat to cook faster, but I guess I just need to keep experimenting to see how much lower I need to set the thermostat in order to cook the meat slower! is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.

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