My first smoke what went wrong?

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by rraczyla, Apr 26, 2015.

  1. rraczyla

    rraczyla Fire Starter

    First of all I want to say thanks to everyone, this site is amazing. So I just did my first smoke and had miserable results. My setup is a gen1 mes40 setup the way Bearcarver has his...sheet metal bottom right, bottom row removed, amnps lower left with a disposable pan cut in half above he amnps to prevent drippings. The recipe I used was from Jeff... 3-2-1 St. Louis ribs. I purchased his rub and sauce recipes and used those which were well worth the cost.

    I set the smoker to 230 and let it heat while I lit the amnps. I'm sure I will get better but what a pain. I used a propane torch then blew on it for 10 minutes on and off. I used two rows of hickory pellets which I think were pretty well lit when I put in. I then put two slabs of ribs (from Costco) in the smoker. After three hours I removed the ribs and wrapped in foil and put back in. At that point I removed amnps. I think I filled too high as both rows were almost ash and may have had jump over. After two hours I removed from foil, sauced, and put back in for another hour. When I removed internal temp was about 150. The ends of each slab were pretty tender however the middle was so tough it was hard to eat. Needless to say wife was not too happy I spent the money and then time for sub par ribs.

    So guys any ideas what I did wrong?

    Thank you,

  2. cliffcarter

    cliffcarter Master of the Pit Group Lead OTBS Member

    Your cooking temp was set too low, IMHO. Cook them at 250° minimum.

    The ribs need to pass the bend test for doneness, regardless of how much time the have spent cooking or what IT they are, IMHO it is impossible to take an accurate IT on ribs.

    Someone will probably ask if you have calibrated your therms or that you need to get something other than the "crappy" factory installed one. If you want to then by all means spend the money, but in reality you will find that simply turning up the heat will solve your problem.
    Last edited: Apr 26, 2015
  3. rraczyla

    rraczyla Fire Starter

    Thanks for that I can try a higher temperature next time. I just used Jeff's temperature suggestion. I also used a thermapen to check the temperature which had been calibrated.
  4. b-one

    b-one Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    We're you going by your smokers temp gauge? Most stock therms are off quite a bit.
  5. rraczyla

    rraczyla Fire Starter

    Yes was just using the temp on the control panel
  6. damon555

    damon555 Smoking Fanatic

    Ribs will smoke just fine @ 225 IMO.....Why not use the smoker with the provided chip pan? Once you get the hang of that then you can start messing with other gadgets. 

    Here's what I would do.....don't get fancy just use everything as it was intended to be used. Put the ribs in the smoker and leave them along for 5 hours before you even think about messing with them...maybe replenish the chips as needed or do as I did and use chunks. I'm not sure what the MES says about using chips or chunks but a chip pan can handle chunks too if done properly. Keep the ribs going until they pass the above mentioned bend test (which is spelled out in many, many threads on this site if you search for it)..... Be prepared for it to take upwards of 7 hours. You don't need to bother with foil either. If smoked properly unfoiled ribs are every bit as good as anything coming out of a foil pouch.

    The guys on here are very good at what they do and will give you very good advice.....I learned almost everything I know about smoking from this site. Keep it simple and success will come. Unfortunately trial and error is a big part of the process. It can get expensive with the cost of meat these days.
  7. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Damon gave great advice.  I don't wrap my SLCs.  Usually I smoke them at 225F but recently I've been doing them at 250F and like it better.  I throw them on the smoker and leave them alone for 5 hours.  Sauce them once, then again 30 minutes later.  By 6 hours they are usually done, but they can take a little longer. 

    Did some today and they came out wonderful just shy of 6 hours.  Nice 45-60 degree bend test with no break in the bark.  Not fall-off-the-bone but competition bite and very juicy.  Sauced with an apple cinnamon BBQ sauce from one of the local apple orchards, something I got as a gift at Christmas .  Did them on a WSM but temp is temp no matter what smoker you use.  Heck, I don't even bother to remove the membrane any more.  It turns paper thin as long as you smoke them with the membrane toward the heat source and leave it there for the entire smoke. 

  8. rraczyla

    rraczyla Fire Starter

    Thanks for all the tips guys. I will probably ditch the amnps next time and the metal sheet. Maybe the sheet was absorbing some of the heat. It also sounds like I should have left them on longer. I can't try again for another two weeks but I will report back when I do.
  9. Only thing you needed to do is cook them a little longer, That's all. You can use your AMNPS, just don't over fill it, maintain a constant temp  (I smoke at 225 º )  Don't worry about checking the IT of the ribs,  Bend test and pull back on the bones,

    This smoke was not a failure  it was a learning curve.   With under cooked ribs you can always cook them a little more. It you didn't eat them wrap in foil and put the in the oven  for a bit and you have salvaged tor smoke  But you know what to look for next time

  10. tropics

    tropics Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    That was the #1 mistake
  11. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi Rob!

    What Gary said, and what a lot of guys said above.

    And the biggest is what Tropics said----Don't go by your MES temp settings and digital read-out. That was your biggest problem. It must have been a lot lower heat than you think.

    If it was underdone (as Ribs go), it didn't matter if you had it set at 225°, 250° or 275°. As long as you didn't have an accurate second therm in there, like a Maverick, you don't know what your smoker temp was. I would get a Maverick ET-732, and check it in boiling water. Then start over, using your AMNPS (filling it about 1/4" from the top). Get the Smoker temp to about 230° on your Maverick, and do the 3-2-1. Don't worry about the internal meat temp. If your MES stays at 230°, it will be Great.

    Last edited: Apr 27, 2015
  12. hillbillyrkstr

    hillbillyrkstr Master of the Pit Group Lead

    I've yet to see a MES that has an accurate thermo. Sounds to me like yours is off quite a bit. My mes 40 (gen 2) is usually 30+ degrees off what the true smoking chamber temp is. When I was doing a shoulder yesterday my igrill was reading 218 while the mes was telling me it was 254. Big difference. My guess is your ribs needed more time because you didnt have the temp hot enough.
  13. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Don't ditch the AMNPS !!!  That thing is 100 Times as good as your MES chip burner!!!

    And if you're talking about the metal sheet I use in the bottom right, you may or may not need that. I use it to even out the left & right Temps in my smoker, but unless you have it laying flat (which wouldn't help in any way) it won't absorb any heat.

  14. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Subscribing to this thread.  I have a lot to learn too.
  15. As said above get a good thermometer and check it against your set temp. You are cooking to cold or they would have been done.

    Happy smoken.


    PS [​IMG]
  16. rraczyla

    rraczyla Fire Starter

    Thanks Bear I don't think I will ditch it. Was a pain but I'm sure thats just the learning curve and once I get the hang of it lighting will be no problem...again this was my first smoke. Yes the metal sheet I was referring to was the one in the bottom right and I did have it tilted. I'm guessing to check left and right temp you just use the two Maverick probes hanging on each side?

    Thanks everyone for the tips, I will be sure to pick up a Maverick asap and get started again. 
  17. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Yes, a lot of guys have trouble keeping the AMNPS lit when they first start, but unless they live at a High Altitude, most of them get the hang of it before too long.

    Yes the best way to tell the left/right balance of the heat is with two Maverick smoker probes. Without that you don't know what the deflector is doing.

  18. rraczyla

    rraczyla Fire Starter

    Thanks for the info!
  19. rraczyla

    rraczyla Fire Starter

    Thanks for the info!
    Bear  - one quick question on lighting the amnps. I read your posts before on it but how long would you say you leave the flame on the pellets to get it going? On your suggestion I got the ts-3000 and it seemed to produce some large flames within seconds. Just curious how long you hold it there before turning the flame off and blowing on it?
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I probably only hold the torch there for 20 or 30 seconds, but then when the flame goes out, I blow on it, down & toward the unburned pellets until the flame comes back. 

    Then when the flame goes out, I do the same thing again. I keep doing this again & again. Sometimes the flame is going for 5 to 8 minutes before it goes out. 

    Once I have a really big red cherry deep into the bottom of the pellets, it's ready to go in the smoker. This could take 20 minutes or longer, but I only spent time at the AMNPS of about 20 seconds, 6 or 8 times.

    I also never use the torch again after that initial 20 to 30 seconds unless I can't get the flame back from blowing on the red pellets in the bottom.


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