New MES Bluetooth Digital smoker

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by parrot-head, Nov 7, 2014.

  1. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dennis, against my better judgment I watched a rerun of "Diners, Drive-ins, and Dives" last night but it was a good one. Fieri was visiting a BBQ joint owned by a member of the legendary Neely family who are about as good as it gets when it comes to Southern-style BBQ. What I saw will again change how I smoke pork ribs.

    I saw the cook apply a dry rub (but I won't copy the dry rub since I prefer other flavor profiles) on St. Louis-style ribs (you could tell they trimmed the spareribs themselves) and then place the ribs on ferris wheel-type racks in an oven. The racks keep rotating to evenly cook the ribs above and below. The ribs cook naked for 4 hours at 225° over hickory logs. They turned out exactly how I strive for mine to look.

    So, what I learned was that my decision to reduce ribs cooking time to 4 hours was correct. I'm now going to cook everything in my smoker at 225° since I see that temp recommended a lot. Also, for ribs I'll continue to use hickory but still experiment with using an apple/pecan mix just for a different flavor. And the big decision is that I will once again no longer foil ribs. I also will continue to place the ribs directly on the MES rack and will continue not to turn them over. I don't see the need to place any meat I smoke inside a foil pan since I think that alone will cut off smoke from the meat. Again, I keep things as simple as possible and I've had great success with it. But every time I smoke I try to make it a learning experience. I never write anything down because I tend to remember the important stuff from every smoke.
  2. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    In the first few hours after lighting the AMPS, IF it manages to stay lit, the smoke stream is barely visible.  I think that once the pellets heat up after a couple of hours, they burn much easier/faster, and produce much better TBS.  I think that the smoke in the beginning is not enough for shorter smokes like ribs, loins etc.

    I'm going to do another smoke this weekend, and light the sht out of my AMPS (going to use my Coleman mattress inflator).  I will report back and try and take a video.  If it doesn't work this time around, then I need to reassess.   
    Last edited: Jul 14, 2015
  3. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I didn't think that foiling ribs with the foil juice inside amounts to steaming them but I think you're right. For my tastes, if you have to be overly careful when cutting finished ribs for fear they'll fall apart they're overdone. What I strive for but have missed is producing ribs with a little tug when you bite instead of falling off the bone. As I wrote elsewhere, I'm going to go back to smoking pork ribs unfoiled but for only 4 hours and at 225°. I saw this done on TV and I know I can replicate the results in my MES. I'll be using hickory pellets and sometimes I'll use an apple/pecan mix just for a different flavor profile.

    The AMNPS produces plenty of smoke. I just cooked two chuckies last week over hickory pellets and both the wife and I agreed they were too smoky. I exposed them to smoke for 5 hours. Next time I'll restrict it to 4.
  4. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    And guys, I've asked this question before, but the way I see it, the pellets burn much better later on in the smoke because:

    1) They are hotter and combust easier

    2) Or the cherry is larger and burns more pellets at the same time faster/easier

    3) Or the airflow in the MES is better when the temps are +-15F after stabilization (which coincidentally is around the 2-3 hour mark when more smoke gets produced)

    I dont have the right answer yet. 
  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    It would be helpful if you could take and upload a video of what the smoke looks like coming off the AMNPS and coming out of the top or side vent (depending on which MES you have). You forget the concept of TBS: thin blue smoke. Too much smoke makes meat taste bitter and harsh. Some wood pellets produce stronger "tasting" smoke. HIckory is up front and in your face. Oak is more subtle but very flavorful. Mesquite also gives a strong smoke "desert" flavor. The fruit woods and the nut woods like pecan are more understated as is alder. Todd's Pitmaster's Choice is a blend of hickory, maple, and cherry and is a great all-purpose blend.

    I light my AMNPS by shmearing alcohol gel about an inch on the 1st row and I apply it to the hole and then light with a BIC bbq lighter. It lights right away and stays lit until I either snuff it out or until all the pellets have turned to ash. As I always say I've found that keeping it simple makes smoking easier and more enjoyable and produces really good Q.
  6. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Well whatever my calibration or Dennis's calibration of what TBS smoke should look like, we both agree that 1) the smoke produced later on in the cook is MORE, and 2) that we both have a feeling that the smoke produced later on in the cook is the BETTER type of smoke. 

    So 1) if you assume the smoke later on is TBS, then by definition, the earlier smoke is not adequate.  And making the assumption that 2) the smoke later on is too much smoke or not the right smoke or thick white smoke is false, because as has been stated, the AMPS is designed to cap the amount of smoke production at TBS (assuming one end is lit and you're smoking at 225F and not 350F etc).  It's got to be one or the other. 

    Does this logic make sense? 
  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm not saying you and mummel are wrong. Taste in smoke is an individual thing; I've always said some people like more smoke flavor and others prefer less. I've had smokes (like the last one) where I see lots of smoke coming out of the top vent and others where it's true TBS. For my wife and I the last cook where a lot of smoke was produced resulted in meat that was oversmoked. When I'm seeing TBS coming out of the top vent the smoke flavor is more to our liking. This has been constant over the 3 years I've been using my MES and AMNPS.

    I've also seen what you've written about with at times smoke starting off at TBS and getting heavier as the smoke goes on. It is indeed logical. But I've also seen it start heavy and go to TBS. I don't know why but I think it has to do with both the wood pellets being used and the cooking temp. I still maintain that if your smoker and the AMNPS/AMNT are working properly you will get adequate (or even more) smoke over the hours you'll be cooking meat.

    You and all of us cook to our own tastes so we have different ways to achieve it. I've used the MES 30 and the AMNPS long enough to know how they work for me and what procedures produce what I and my family like to eat. For me, I was way overthinking the process and after I backed off I started getting great results with minimal effort. But this was after spending the first couple of years making mistakes, learning, and adjusting. I'm still doing that but now I have a solid knowledge and experience base to build on.
  8. I'm still learning at all this stuff. I have not yet had to smoke for several hrs, my usual length of smoke is 3 hrs. One of these days I'll try a flat brisket and let it smoke long and slow.
  9. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I like a little tug off the bone and it still comes clean.  Falling off the bone and holding the slab so half hangs at 90 degrees and falls apart is over done to me.  The membrane/meat around the bone of an over cooked rib gets rubbery.  I have read several posts that a tug is way better than a rubbery texture in competitions.  To each their own.  As long as you enjoy the time while smoking and getting consistent results.  It's all good.

  10. Kurt,
    Do you foil or not foil your ribs to get that "little tug"? I always thought foiling produced the meat to fall off the bone.
  11. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    As the pellets burn from the beginning all stacked up, do they have an ash trail, then coal, then unburned pellets?  As pellets burn and the stack collapses at the beginning, the coals inside the AMNTS form more of an incline, leaving  more of a coal trail.  What does your AMNTS look like compared to the AMNPS
  12. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    I only have an AMPS.  The times its failed, there was an incline with the pellets at the bottom being unburned (an progressively becoming less burned), with the ash lying on top. 
  13. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    "...holding the slab so half hangs at 90 degrees and falls apart is over done to me."  That's a very funny mental image, Kurt. Mine don't turn out that overcooked but I might have gotten that rubbery membrane thing; not sure about that. I've decided how I'll smoke them next time. Can't wait to try it out.

  14. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Yes, I Foil.  On most everything.  MES is newer to me and I'd like to experiment with butcher's paper to hold bark with less steaming   After 3 hours I'm good on smoke with ribs but can go more.  The 321 and 221 method at 225*F has never given me over cooked ribs with foil. 

  15. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    Ok.  Try with a torch and underneath the hole.  Burn that MF till it glows red hot.   

  16. LOL!
  17. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    It's a Jeff Phlllip's thing!

    mine don'r either

  18. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dennis, I smoked a brisket with both the point and flat separated and side by side on one rack about 3-4 weeks ago. It was really easy. I used oak pellets in the AMNPS and that went really nicely with the flavors of the dry rub I used and the meet. It took 11 hours for the meat to get to 201° IT. I think I foiled at about the 9 hour mark. Best brisket I've ever smoked.

    After 3+ years I'm still learning this stuff, too.
  19. krooz

    krooz Smoke Blower

    A little off topic since I don't have the AMZNPS yet and rely on the little MES chip tray. But I have a rack of baby backs going for a 4 hour smoke at 240°(came out great last time - no foiling). Also have some cubed up sweet taters going as well - experimentin'!

    Anyway, I was curious as to the temp accuracies so I checked it's calibration and hung a cheapy remote probe I bought years ago from Wally World off the 3rd rack along with the MES meat probe. Checking several times over the last 1 1/2 hours the cheapy probe and firebox temps were within 1-2° of each other. The meat probe was consistently 5° less than both. I think I can work with that!
    Last edited: Jul 15, 2015
  20. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sounds like you're doing great! I use the ET-733 and after the MES controller stabilizes I don't see a big difference between the MES temp and the ET-733 BARBECUE temp.

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