General smoking question.

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Fire Starter
Original poster
Nov 8, 2010
Greer, SC
Folks, I have a few questions concerning smoking meats.  I have smoked 3 turkeys and 1 ham in my MES since buying it a month ago.  How do I smoke and get a good smoked flavor without getting the solid black shell on the meat?  The turkeys were ok but the ham was a little eh.  I followed directions I found on here for adding a glaze before smoking but that didn't work,  Made a good thick glaze and slathered it on but when the thing was done it was solid black and a bit crunchy.
Kinda need more info but here's a start

Does the bark have a funny odd taste? If so then too much wood

Are you using a lot of sugar in your rub? If so the sugar may be burning
It's got a charred taste, yeah.  I used a honey glaze.  Reckon I shouldn't have done that.  I probably used too much wood.  I have it stuck in my head that there has got to be smoke constantly while cooking and I know that's not correct. 
It may very well be the smoke all you want is a Thin Blue Smoke (TBS) or just the smell of the wood and no smoke. If you can smell the wood so can the meat.
Thank you for the fast responses.  I'll remember that next time - easy on the wood.  I'll take photos to document the results.  Now, glazing a ham in a smoker, is there really a point to that?
Thats a matter of personal taste
I've found that if when using much of any sugar to go lighter and I'd probably do most of any of  that in a brine anyway.

Honey is particularly troublesome so go very light. For the turkey, I would suggest loosening the skin on the top from back to front and then placing several pats of butter up in there. If you want to use honey, maybe some honey butter then or bringing butter to about room temperature and mixing in a touch of honey. You could put some honey in a water pan for awhile or inside the turkey as well. Sometimes I'll put a pear pierced with a fork inside the cavity for a mild sweet flavor. And then sprinkling  seasonings well up above lightly after having coated with a very light coating of good olive oil 12-24 hrs. following removing from brine rinsed. My personal preference for salt is kosher salt when using salt in seasoning as it's lighter and makes for a nice crust. I haven't yet smoked ham in my cooker. When I smoke pork butts, I make a heavy slurry with olive oil, butter and my seasonings/rubs after brining and either apply it awhile prior to cooking or marinate over night.    

Every smoker is different. Before putting meat in the unit I use I put in a couple medium chunks of wood after I get my temp. to where I want it. Once there is a good blue smoke, I put the meat in and just about the time that begins to tail off I bring on the smoke a little more up through to about 140 degrees backing off. Maybe a few small chunks afterward (for turkey) that's it. More for pork butts. I do my own far share of slathering, just keep in mind that much of the smoke initially is going to run off with the liquid that way so avoid the meat being too terribly wet.  
 BlackNoseCorey, sorry you had a bad experience with your ham, but sounds like the turkey was ok.  Personally I have no experience smoking a ham, but I understand it is very similar to smoking a pork shoulder, however you have to decide cured ham or fresh, and do a little reading on the internet to get a general idea of the necessary cooking procedures.  There is no reason you can't glaze but again this has to be done correctly.  One of the aspects in most smoking with glazes is frequent basting, this works against how a MES works.  The MES needs to stay closed with very little opening to properly cook/smoke.  Yeah the newer higher heat models can be opened and recover faster so you have to decide how you want to go about this.  There is no reason after the ham is almost done you can then start your glazing.

As for a turkey in the smoker, I like to put the turkey in brine for 24-48 hrs.  You get a very moist bird and another way to get flavor in the meat via the brine.  However I'm not huge on the flavor side of brining because some pretty bad flavors can be imparted if your not careful.  I go more for just a straight salt/sugar brine (there are a lot of post on SMF on how to brine).  One thing I learned is not to get a huge bird, 16-18 lbs is about as large as you should go.  Next do NOT stuff the bird, it really slows down the cooking, and for the health safety crowd, the stuffing temp may stay too long in the danger zone and have the potential to make someone sick.

BTW if your turkey is taking way too long, do not be afraid to pull it out of the smoker and finish in a preheated oven.  Another technique I had to use because my breast meat was done and the dark parts still need 20 deg, I cut the breast out and then completely wrapped the remaining turkey in alum foil sealed as tight as possible then finished in the oven.  No one knew the difference, I heated the sliced breast meat up with turkey broth and it all was tasty and moist.
If you don't like the bark on the ham.... put it in a foil pan and cover with foil after 4 or 5 hours of smoke. This will keep the bark from getting hard and leave a much softer outer shell is reader supported and as an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases.