Newbie needs first smoker advice

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by clfergus, Jul 24, 2015.

  1. clfergus

    clfergus Newbie

    Well I purchased a model 20070910 today online which I believe is the Gen I. I am super excited. I wasn't going to buy one now but with football season coming up I am going to start a smoking tradition of something for each colts game.

    I was on the fence and last night I grilled a bunch of chicken legs on the weber with some apple wood chunks. I was listening to my wife and in-laws just loving cheap old chicken legs that were cooked for an hour and decided man this stuff just tastes too good. I have to make some quality ribs and pulled pork.

    Thanks for all the advice. I am going to try a few smokes with chips before I invest in the pellet tray.
  2. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Congrats on your New MES !!![​IMG]

    Below is something that might help you get started:

    Just click on "Bear's Step by Steps".

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  3. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Once again it is proven that some types of humor don't translate well in writing. I won't be using any briquettes at all.
    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  4. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    We need pics!
  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You son is both knowledgeable and a thinker. I'm surprised he got a smoke ring using just wood chips. Did he say if he repeated the feat using that half charcoal briquette? I had always read you needed temps of 275° and above to get a smoke ring but I've seen and read where bbq pitmasters got them at lower temps between 225° and 235° but only when cooking in stick burners where you get that high combustion that your son was talking about.

    As for placing the meat in a cold smoker, I don't place anything I'm about to cook in a cold oven or a cold skillet. What's the point? If you've got a set cooking time you're just going to have to track how long it takes the oven or smoker to warm up and add that to your expected finish time. That's why recipes call for preheating the cooking appliance before adding the food to be cooked. I don't see any benefit to cold smoking while the smoker heats up.

    Your son wrote he left the wood chip loader out. Is he saying he removed it completely, leaving a large open hole on the side of the smoker for more air intake?
  6. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    My Son said  ...  I have been told by others that smoke, that you get no smoke penetration after the meat is sealed. (BTW, I have heard that also)  I didn't really see a down side to putting it in cold. if anything you insure the opportunity to inject more smoke into it because it isn't sealed as fast.

    He also said  ...  I initially did it for flavor but saw no gain from it.  I think it ended up helping prevent the wild temp swing as I had none.  The open hole for the chip loader created a draft that probably prevented the smoker from over shooting more than 7 - 8 degrees while the heat coming off the charcoal probably slowed down the drop in temp thus preventing drops below target of more then 6 - 7 degrees.  The heat from the charcoal slowed down the drop in temp and gave the heating element time to heat up before the temperature dropped too far.

    Rick, I will check on your question about the "Chip Loader out" and report back in this tread.
  7. clfergus

    clfergus Newbie

    Thanks Bear!

    So here are a few questions I have for when my smoker arrives:

    1. Checking temp..... do you open the door and use a probe at certain time intervals or do you run a probe through the vent holes?

    2. What is a good rule of thumb for how often to add wood chips? Is there a smoking duration rule like 8 hours of smoking add smoke every hour for first 3?
  8. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Run a probe through the vent like the Maverick 733 or equivalent.  I dont know about wood chips as I have a A-MAZE-N pellet tray 5X8 (or AMPS for short).  You light it once and forget about it.  Gives you 10-12 hours of smoke time.  Great gizmo. 
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    1.   I use my Maverick ET-732 Digital wireless to monitor both the Smoker temp, and the internal temp of most things other than Ribs. My probe wires go through my top vent. If there are multiple items in the smoker, like a bunch of Country Style Ribs, or Bear Logs, Sticks or Loaves, etc, I will stick them each with my Thermapen, at the end, to make sure it's not just the one with the probe in it that is done.

    2.  I have been using my AMNPS exclusively for 5 years, but when I used to use the MES chip burner, I used to put 3 or 4 chips in at a time until they stopped smoking, which was between 20 & 30 minutes. With the AMNPS I have smoke going as long as the meat is in the smoker, unless it is wrapped in foil. But that's just me---I love a lot of light smoke, and the meat will take smoke no matter what the IT is.

    Last edited: Jul 27, 2015
  10. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Your son is saying that once the pellicle has formed on the outside of the meat no further smoke will penetrate it. I was told that in a BBQ class, brought that up here, and several experienced and knowledgeable members debunked it. If this were the case, why wouldn't pro pitmasters foil their meats after the IT hit 160° which is, according to what I was told, where the pellicle is fully formed? So, I disagree with what your son was told there.

    The other things he said are very interesting. What he observed is what he observed so there's no need to question it. Don't know if it's a good idea to removed the chip loader, if that's what your son did, because I think just about every interior component has a purpose for being placed where it is regarding heat dispersment and airflow. Maybe not so much with the Gen 2 smokers but we're not talking about those. I leave the wood chip loader in place because I see no reason not to. My smoker is working fine, as I've repeatedly posted to the growing somnolence of my readers.

    What I think is great is that you've passed the love of BBQ (and I would imagine grilling) onto your son. My 25 yr old daughter has told me for years that she'd like me to teach her but she can't have any outdoor grill where she lives now. My 21 yr old son has no interest in either one other than ravenously eating what I put on the table.
  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    1. I own the Maverick ET-733 so I agree with running the probes through the vent hole on your smoker. You can monitor the temps on the receiver from just about anywhere inside your house, even from the front yard if you're smoking in the backyard. If necessary, I go out to the smoker, adjust the temp, and continue to monitor smoker and meat temps on the receiver.

    2. I've been using wood pellets in the AMNPS for about 3 years and will never go back to wood chips. In the early days when I was using them, I had a tendency to put in too many because you can never have too much smoke, right? My wife and kids later told me how wrong I was since my early efforts were overly smoky, harsh and bitter tasting. I noticed that smoke would stop rising out of the top vent of my MES 30 after about 30 minutes so every half hour I was loading more wood chips into the smoker. Ever since I started using wood pellets I get steady, even smoke for 11 hours or so. I can still get too much smoke if I leave the AMNPS in over, let's say, 6-8 hours so my new strategy will be to determine when what I'm smoking has had enough. Only experience from repeated smokes will teach me that. But I don't smoke the large cuts of meat other members are smoking. The meats I smoke top out at about 6 lbs. so they don't to be smoked over 11 hours or so anyway. Of that 11 hours I'd say about up to 6 hours of smoke would suffice. Again, this is for "smaller" beef briskets and pork shoulders/butts and chuck and other such roasts, in my opinion.
  12. clfergus

    clfergus Newbie

    Oh crap.... now I need to get me a ET-732 and an AMNPS.

    Cha Ching... I need to sell some golf clubs to fund my new hobby.
  13. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I tried 2 briquettes in the chip tray when I put in the brisket point.. One hour later I put in two more through the loader.  An hour later another two briquettes through the loader for a total of six with no smoke ring formation  The heating cycles appeared to be quicker and consistent after Bear's controller tips with coal in the chip loader.  I'll have to try three briquettes at a time.

  14. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Kurt, he pulled the chip loader all the way out and leaving the hole wwide open for 1 1/2 hrs when he was using the charcoal briquettes ... he said it created more air-oxygen and combustion that way. He then put it back in.
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Surprised you got nothing with all those briquettes. One or two guys posted they've gotten smoke rings with just one briquette. It's worth experimenting with. But what temp were you smoking at? Also, how much of the hard fat and soft fat did you trim off? NO and CO gases don't penetrate fat very well to get to the layer of myoglobin.

    However, according to Meathead Goldwyn on a pellet smoker at 225° puts out more NO than charcoal briquettes or lump charcoal. I've watched TV shows where the BBQ pitmasters got a rocking smoke ring at 225°. But as for me, I'd rather be heading out to my smoker to futz with a temp adjustment or to wrap or unwrap the meat during a smoke instead of going out to load charcoal briquettes to get a ring. But I get the feeling, Kurt, that obtaining a smoke ring in your MES is your Holy Grail. Bonne chance et bon appétit!
  16. brickguy221

    brickguy221 Smoking Fanatic

    Since the smoke ring doesn't really make the taste any better or worse, I don't care if I get a smoke ring or not in my smoker. 

    As for Kurt not getting a smoke ring, he might not be getting enough air-oxygen into his smoker. My son feels that is a big key in obtaining a smoke ring, thus the reason he leaves the chip loader completely out of the smoker for approx 1 1/2 hrs. I will have to wait and see how he does on future smokes.
    Last edited: Jul 28, 2015
  17. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    The smoker cycled +/- 8*F to average 225*F.  It was a brisket point with barely any fat to trim on the outside because the point has the heavy layer of fat on the inside.  I Loaded charcoal briquettes through the chip loader (not using the chip loader) by just looking through the opening and placing two in the tray before putting the loader back in, in the dump position.  The last thing you want to do with an MES is open the door until it's time to Foil.  This is a high maintenance machine after Bear's controller anticipation method,  which is great.  All my other smokers and grills are charcoal and the cast iron grates can be heat treated and the char scrubbed off without bringing it into the house ( I don't have a dishwasher.)  Doing the window and grates is triple the maintenance compared to my other three (and I have oven cleaner for the grates, magic erasers, vinegar etc.)  I have a squeegee and will try oven cleaner on the window from the bottom up to catch the run off.  The window is washed with soap and water after to remove any cleaning residue.  I'll find a routine.

  18. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm glad I don't have a window on my smoker. It's bad enough to have to clean our kitchen oven window which then gets mucked up fairly quickly afterwards. I feel like Sisyphus rolling a rock uphill. 

    I wonder if that inner heavy layer of fat would also prevent a smoke ring? I always trim off all the hard fat I can while leaving the soft fat alone. I looked at Bear's method but when I look at any involved procedure my eyes glaze over if I don't see it being applicable to me. I've got my own system which works just fine for my MES since I'm no longer dealing with the wide temp swings. I'm smoking a brisket this Sunday and I'm confident it'll go as smoothly as all of my smokes have gone this year.
  19. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    That's why I need to start a thread (with a poll) on people with MES's that don't clean their window.  I got my 40" Gen 1 SS with window and RF remote from your Amazon find @ $273 delivered.  I've seen Academy advertise $250 out the door but nothing like that since June.  Can you get one without a window for $273 now?  It doesn't matter.  You told SMF about your find and abbyleo and I bought it.  Lol   I would have bought one down the road without a window but I couldn't pass up the price and now have two 40" Gen 1 SS with window and RF remote for a total of $273. 

    Like the link you sent me on smoke ring formation, all exposed meat has Myoglobin and NO and CO gas will lock that pink color till the meat hits 170*F, deactivating Myglobin's oxygen transfer ability and also cooking it .  Keep in mind that this Brisket was frozen in a food saver bag for almost three years with no freezer burn, but may have deteriorated the Myoglobin compared to fresh meat.  I'll find out if it needs to be fresh meat for ring formation.  I taste with my eyes first!  That's why I like a smoke ring. Lol 

    Also, the briquettes in the chip tray has an effect on temp stability, making sorter quicker cycles.  Filling a void with something may improve cycling and using Bear's method.  Maybe putting play sand in the chip tray instead of leaving it empty when using the AMNPS is a thought.

    Last edited: Jul 30, 2015
  20. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Hi Kurt,

    I should mention, after we repaired my Gn #1 when the Flag connector had burned out, I figured since I wanted to run it a few hours anyway to make sure it's ready to smoke meat again, I would use my method too.

    So knowing that mine usually over-shoots by 15° to 25° when running from Ambient temp to 250°, I decided to try to get to a stable 260° as fast as I could.

    So I set the Control to 245° & started it up.

    When it hit 245° (after 20 minutes), the heating element shut off, but the heat kept rising, because all of the things in the bottom of the smoker were much hotter than the air in the smoker was.

    Once it got to 263°, and then fell to 262°, I knew it had peaked at 263° (18° over-shoot).

    So I immediately changed my setting to 260°.

    That was it-----No more big swings, just from that one small adjustment.

    From that point forward, for the next 3 hours, my MES temp went as low as 254°, and as high as 268°. That's between -6° and +8°. I'm quite happy with that.

    And it didn't take hours & a lot of babysitting. It was 1 adjustment at the 20--25 minute mark, and steady as she goes for the next 3 hours.

    The big thing was after the 18° over-shoot, I moved it up 15°, which kept it from having a big downward over-shoot, which would cause another big upward over-shoot, etc, etc, etc.

    One simple move nipped it in the Bud.


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