noob trying to grasp all this!

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by dogwalker, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. Hey, daRicksta!  Yeah, I actually smoked with the second unit.  The racks are great now, but the temperature was an issue.  However, now that I've added the small deflector, it seems that the temperatures are good.

    I brought in some of the pork and beef this morning, and everyone absolutely loved the pork.  On the beef, we can't tell what I needed to do.  Some people said I should have smoked it longer, to 190 degrees IT, but other said that with the beef being so lean, I probably should have taken it off sooner for more medium rare (which I think is what Bear suggested, too).  Others said I should just get a brisket next time.  :)

    I may have to smoke something else this next weekend, just for fun, and to test out the temperatures.

    What amazed me, but something you all said - and turned out to be true - is that I didn't need to add water, and everything was so moist and tasty.  My wife watches this cooking show, and the guy there is saying to dab on marinate on the turkey every hour, but I told her I'd rather not keep opening the door, and that it shouldn't really be necessary because the MES is so well insulated.

    thanks again!
     
  2. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My good friend Bear taught me that while the MES 40 benefits from that deflector the smaller MES 30 doesn't need it. That's why the side to side temp variances in my smoker typically settle down or sometimes even reverse places.

    My wife has staked out the Thanksgiving turkey territory. She makes an incredible upside down turkey in our kitchen oven. I'm the head honcho for the Christmas dinner entreé but will oven roast mine this year, too. I prefer to grill my whole chicken recipes but I think I might smoke a small turkey in my MES 30 and finish it in the oven next year. I think I wrote I smoked a boneless turkey breast. Both the skin and meat were among the most flavorful I've ever enjoyed. The skin wasn't oven crisp but it was still sooooo good!  I used the leftover turkey meat for smoked turkey and cheddar cheese Panini sandwiches.

    I'm going to again grill a spatchcocked chicken next year too. It was always very intimidating but now that I've done it it's a piece of cake. I found a great grilling recipe that called for placing foil-wrapped bricks on the bird while grilling it over indirect heat. It worked really well.
     
    dogwalker likes this.
  3. My wife got mad at me when I said I think I should spatchcock and roast the turkey - "but I've told the family you're going to smoke it."  When I said that the roasted turkey would have crispier skin and would taste great, she put her foot down.  So I'm smoking it.  I hope it'll be great.

    So, I've told people here about these forums, about the MES on sale, and about the AMPNS, and one guy is getting both the smoker and the AMPNS.  He said it'll probably be great for just cold smoking, too, which is new to me, along with all this.

    Your wife's turkey sounds great!

    Oh, speaking of indirect heat, this year was the first time I've grilled steaks that way.  I now use the "reverse sear" method and love them.  But now I may try smoking some steaks in the MES and then searing them at the end.  I have no idea if that's smart or not, LOL.
     
  4. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Dogwalker,

    Todd Johnson has said that in his opinion the water pan for the MES 30 is too large and just serves to steam the food. I found that he was right. I'd think the same thing applies to the MES 40. I've never had any meat smoked in my MES come out dry unless I way overcooked it. A water pan wouldn't have saved that.

    What cut of beef did you smoke? I didn't see your original post. It's cool that you now have a great unit. That's what I was hoping for you.
     
  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Be careful with spatchcocking that turkey, my friend. We have a great set of German steel (but made in China) knives. The first year we had them I used the chef's knife to try to separate the drumstick from the turkey carcass and promptly busted off the tip of the knife. Needless to say I've improved my turkey carving technique since then. But I'd think with the larger interior space of your MES 40 there should be plenty of room on a rack for a smallish butterflied turkey.

    My wife's turkey? Last year's was the best I ever had in my life. On Thanksgiving evening we had what I think were one of the NFL playoffs on TV. At the end of the game they showed the beautifully roasted turkey they were going to enjoy for the broadcasters' dinner. Well, my wife's turkey was the spitting image of that professionally-cooked turkey and I told everyone at dinner that. Yep, she earned the right to stake out the TG turkey territory.

    For Daddy's Day this year I also did the reverse steak searing thing. I smoked 4 bone-in ribeyes in the MES until they were just below medium rare and then transferred them to my Weber 22.5" One Touch Silver kettle charcoal grill to sear over direct heat. My temp management over the coals wasn't as good so for my tastes I overcooked them although my wife and kids loved them. The hickory smoke from the wood pellets added a great layer of flavor. But, it was a hassle. It was just the second time I've used both my smoker and my charcoal grill at the same time. Next year I'll stick to the grill and perhaps put a wood pellet smoker to the side near the charcoal briquettes. But the smoking in a smoker and then searing steaks on a grill thing works extremely well if you want to put in the time to do it.

    How were you able to get a sear on the steaks over indirect heat?
     
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  6. Thanks for the warning on the bird!  I'll keep reading up on it.  I'll be fine not spatchcocking it, too (less work!), if the breasts and legs come out the right temps.

    Actually, I've tried a few different approaches to the searing.  I grilled indirectly, and then I either then crank the grill very high (my grill is on its last legs) and sear them over the fire; or I put butter down on an iron skillet and sear them in that.  Both are great.  My younger son much prefers the butter searing, and it is pretty awesome, I have to admit.  Probably not great for our cholesterol, but ah well.  :)

    Some people prefer searing first and then cooking, which I've never tried.  I'll have to try that for comparison someday.  But this works so great.  I wind up with steaks cooked evenly throughout, although I tend to undercook them.  My wife and older son prefers a little more medium, so I need to be more diligent about that.

    Oh, I do let them rest for maybe 10 minutes, too.
     
  7. Thanks!  Yeah, I'm glad I picked up this second unit.  The temperatures threw me, but once I added that small deflector, it all seems good.

    I was going to smoke only a chicken, but my wife ran out and picked up a huge salmon, a pork loin, and I think some sort of very lean beef roast.  I took the beef out at 135, and now I don't know if I should have taken it out sooner or let it go to 190.  I love pork shoulders at 190, and I've had great luck with briskets, so I don't know what went wrong here.  The beef tastes and smells great, and if I slice it then or cut it up, it makes great sandwiches.
     
  8. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's my favorite way to make steaks!!!

    I quit doing it though because Mrs Bear doesn't want hers smoked, and it's a PITA to smoke mine in my MES, and then put mine & her cold steak on the grill, and expect to get them both at Medium Rare together. It just isn't worth the hassle to me.[​IMG]

    You don't have that problem, so I would definitely do that if I was you.

    Bear
     
    dogwalker likes this.
  9. Great!  I'm sorry about Mrs Bear.  I'll be curious to see how this goes!  My younger son is home next week, so i plan on cooking steaks one night and smoking the turkey.  Over the Christmas holidays, I plan on smoking lots and lots!  Pork shoulders, fish, chickens, who knows what!

    Believe it or not, here I am, 56 years old, and this is the first year I've really taken to grilling, and the first time I've ever tried smoking, and I'm now loving both.  It's a whole new world!  :)
     
  10. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Cast iron searing is how many pros and very good home cooks do it. Searing first and finishing the steak in the oven or reverse searing and finishing it on the grill or in a skillet--it all depends on what you prefer. My problem in my household is that my wife and my daughter daughter (when she visits) like their steaks at least medium while my son and I both like our steaks medium rare (my son in his late teens introduced me to that) so I have to pull a couple of steaks before the other ones. On the grill I tend to lose concentration and overcook everything, much to the delight of the womenfolk. When it comes to getting the IT right, an instant read digital therm is your friend. I own a CDN thermocouple therm which is a knockoff of a Thermapen. My wife has a Thermoworks ThermoPop. My CDN saved my ribeye roast last Christmas when another therm I was using showed the temp 5-10 degrees lower than it actually was. I was able to pull the roast when it was still medium rare.  I let the meat rest too. The only cut of steak that doesn't seem to benefit from resting is flank steak. No matter how long I let it rest all the juices still flow out and aren't redistributed.

    The new studies say that the fat and cholesterol from butter isn't bad. I've got very high cholesterol due to bad genetics anyway. I pan fried a porterhouse steak using the French method of spooning over butter in a skillet (this was a French-style compound butter) and it was very good but I prefer a steak just pan fried in light oil in a cast iron skillet or grill pan or especially on my charcoal grill. When it comes to grilling I'm a very old school purist: propane gas is not for outdoor grilling of food; it used for heating both homes and water and for cooking food using a kitchen oven.
     
  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Lean beef roast? Maybe something like a top or bottom round, eye of round, round tip or sirloin tip? Those are all lean cuts of beef which should have been OK at 135. For beef briskets I've been going up to 200 but I'm backing it down to 190; same with pork shoulder. But what was wrong with the beef again? I don't know if you said.

    A chuck roast is excellent in a smoker but you need to cook it to the same IT as a brisket or a pork shoulder.
     
  12. I'll have to ask her what exactly it was, she just sprung it on me.  It tastes great and is very juicy, quite pink.  The only problem is that it's chewy.  Now if I cut into thin strips or chop it up, it's great!  I'm just surprised, because the chicken and pork are pretty near perfect (as is the salmon).
     
  13. Oh, man, I hear you on the steaks!  My youngest and I both like medium-rare, my wife prefers a little more toward medium, and my oldest wants his medium.  That's funny, "to the delight of the womenfolk" :)

    Yeah, one of the first things I bought this year was the ThermoPop!  I love that thing!  In fact, that's why I recently bought the ChefAlarm.  Hmmm, now I'm wondering whether I let the beef rest.  I know I did everything else...

    I have a charcoal grill and a propane grill, and I just may try the charcoal grill out for searing.  I figure, I can constantly experiment and enjoy it!
     
  14. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    Don't forget sous vide steaks!
     
  15. Oh man, I know, right?!  I've never done that, but some people at work have, and they swear by them.  Makes sense, too!
     
  16. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I was about 61 when I took up smoking. I've always wanted one and when I found a MES 30 Gen 1 for (now the high price of) $189 on Amazon she said "Happy early Father's Day!".  I really only smoke during spring-fall and it took me about 2 seasons to have some confidence in what I was doing and to start putting out some consistently good Q. I've owned a Weber charcoal kettle grill since the early 90s. I'm on my 2nd one and for me it's the only way to grill. There's something about cooking over charcoal on a kettle grill that's both personal and primal. I've developed some new techniques over the past few years and I've gotten better there, too. Also, thanks to getting into smoking, I've learned how to make up my own dry rubs and sauces--from recipes of course. But now I've amassed enough knowledge to know how to tweak recipes to suit my own tastes and to adjust if I don't have enough of an ingredient and don't want to make a trip to the store.
     
  17. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I'm a-thinkin' it's a some cut of round because they can be chewy if not cooked properly--I know that first hand. I forget that tri-tip is from the bottom sirloin, is fairly lean and awfully chewy if undercooked. But smoked or grilled properly it's one of the most flavorful cuts around.

    Chicken and pork in a smoker are almost foolproof. Just got to get them to the proper IT and it appears you did just that.

    You did the salmon on its own? Did you brine it or just put a dry rub on? I did some salmon a couple of years ago and they were great. This year I tried a dry rub meant for pork and I crashed and burned.
     
  18. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I was thinking about a crockpot plugged into a a rheostat to see how close it can hold water around 125-130*F. Maybe babysit a big steak vacuumed sealed in a crockpot on warm and unplug periodically when the water hits 130*F till IT gets there. I'm not sure yet.
    -Kurt
     
    dogwalker likes this.
  19. Your weber sounds great!

    I dry brined the chicken, but since the others were my wife's sudden surprise, we just used rub on them.  She has some rubs she bought, I'll need to see what they are.  So maybe I undercooked the beef, I'll have to experiment!
     
  20. That's a nice idea, a good way to try out sous vide.
     

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