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Virgin Smoker with MES 30 and have questions

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by boatboy, Nov 27, 2013.

  1. boatboy

    boatboy Newbie

    Hi. Just bought an MES 30 from Walmart.com during their Black Friday sale and picked it up yesterday. This is model #  20070910 and goes up to 275*. I went ahead and did it's "seasoning" yesterday by running it at full temp for 3+ hours and adding wood chips. In the week I have been waiting, I have bought several different pieces of meats while waiting for it to come in. Wife put most in the freezer and since tomorrow is Thanksgiving, I decided last night to pick up a couple of bone in pork shoulders that are about 4-5 pounds each and 1 rack of beef spare ribs. I decided to go with these since we will already have enough deep fried turkey and didn't want to burn ourselves out on poultry right off the bat.

    In the past week, I have bookmarked different sites and the more I read, the more confused I became. One thing I did learn is that I needed a good meat thermometer so I went ahead and ordered a Maverick ET-733 and have had it waiting. The wife went ahead and done the dry rubs on the shoulders and the ribs last night in preps for todays maiden voyage. We got about an inch of snow overnight, but I was determined to try this thing out today anyhow. It was also a chance to thank her for all the work she is doing today in prep for tomorrow's dinner.

    About an hour ago, I placed 1 of the probes into the largest pork shoulder and the other into the thickest part of the ribs. I put them all in the smoker and routed the probes thru the vent hole in the top and plugged them into the thermometer transmitter. For the sake of battery conservation, I decided to wait a couple hours before turning the thermometer on since I only have the batteries that shipped with it. When I put the meat in, it came straight from the fridge. I removed 2 racks and have the ribs on the top rack and the shoulders on the bottom. I set my temp for 240* and turned it on. The smoker controller was showing 32* internal, which I believe as we have snow and smoker is sitting on a covered porch. After starting the smoker, I put a mix of apple and hickory chips in the side and dumped them into the smoker. Within 30 minutes, the temp was up to 185 and smoke was coming from the vent. Just checked it again and found temp was at 240* setpoint and has been going for 1.5 hours.

    After reading around, my confusion stemmed from several things. First of all, to cook with water in pan or without. I chose without after reading some of the comments. Since this was my first smoke, I chose to put the meat directly on the racks and no foil has been used. I didn't "preheat" smoker due to it temp outside at freezing and I also wanted to put meat in before heating it up. This way, I could put my woodchips in when it was first turned on and they would start smoking sooner as heater would be going. I put the chips in dry as opposed to soaking them in water. I just reloaded the chips when I went out to check temp.

    I am confused by all the different temps mentioned. I have seen it mentioned that both beef and pork need to reach 145-165* to kill bacteria but I have seen different postings saying to bring the pork to 195-205 before calling it done. What about the temp on the beef spare ribs? Would I be wrong in just leaving everything alone now and not use any foil or anything to cover it? I just want the learning curve to be easy, but there is so much information, I am overwhelmed by it.

    Thanks in advance.
  2. demosthenes9

    demosthenes9 Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Lots of stuff to digest there Boatboy.   First, let me say Welcome to SMF and the world of smoking!!

    Instead of going point by point through your post, I'll just ramble on a bit and see if I can address most the points.    Not sure why you didn't want to preheat your smoker, but would advise against that method.   Get the smoker up to the cook temp you want to use before putting the meat in.   I'd also add the wood chips or chunks in and wait until they start smoking before adding the meat.

    As to the actual cook temps, it all depends on what you are cooking, and in some cases, your own personal preference.     Take beef for example.   IF you are cooking a Sirloin tip for sliced roast beef, AND you like your roast beef to be Medium rare, you'd cook to an internal temp of 127-130.   You'd then pull it from the smoker, wrap it in foil and let it rest.   The meat will continue to cook a bit while resting.  Many call this "carryover".   Basically, the meat will cook up 1 more step, i.e. from rare to mid rare, or from mid rare to medium.  So, if you want mid rare, you pull it from the smoker just after it hits the rare mark.   Same thing applies for a standing rib roast (prime rib), a tri tip, London broil, etc.

    Sticking with beef, Brisket is a different story.  You want to take it up to an IT temp of between 190 - 205, depending on whom you talk to.  This gives the connective tissues in the cut the time and temperature to break down fully and "render" out.   This makes it moist and tender.

    If you will, a good way to think of it is to compare a ribeye steak with a pot roast.  Ribeyes taste better rare to medium but start to toughen up at mid well to well.  Pot roast on the other hand is chewy when between rare and medium, but is nice and tender when slowly taken to well done.

    Same thing applies to different cuts of pork.  A pork loin or tenderloin should be taken to 140-145.  A shoulder or a boston butt should be taken up past 190.

    Foiling.    Foiling basically steams the meat to some degree.   It's a way to make the meat more tender and it also reduces your cook times.  A Boston Butt that might take 12 hours in a smoker might take 8 or 10 hours when wrapped in foil for the last couple of hours.   Cook time for a packer brisket might drop from 16 hours down to 10 or 12.

    As for the learning curve, the way to make it "easy" really is to start with one specific cut and gain experience with it.   Smoke the same cut 2, 3 or 4 times and get it figured out.  Then you can do some research and move on to a different cut. 

    Hope this helps a bit.  
  3. beuler

    beuler Smoke Blower

    Hey Boat boy...I would preheat the smoker and use the water pan to help regulate temp and keep moisture in it. When it comes to your butts, do them till at least190 and watch them fall apart ....[​IMG]. I do poultry to at least 160 I think..,(,i don't have my secret book in front of me). My MES 40 says 205 , but my hanging thermometer shows 220, and the meat probe is a little off also. To much foil will block heat. The more you research recipes the more you will learn. It seams like these smokers are finicky....Good luck!
  4. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    IMHO, poultry like whole turkeys should go to 165-170.  I go on the safe side.  I've yet to have a dry bird.  190-200 for the butt.  You can do an easy search for the temps.  It will be around this.

    Chances are, your Maverick and your MES 30 will be a little off, hence the need to get the good probe.  Did you get this already?  I was confused about the two probes you were using.  

    How's it looking so far?
  5. boatboy

    boatboy Newbie

    Thanks guys. The reason I didn't preheat was because of 2 reasons:

    1. Outside temp was around 32* so by the time I opened the door, placed the shoulders and ribs in there, and got my temp probes routed thru, it would have cooled off anyway.

    2. Since it is an electric smoker and cycles off and on, I thought by placing the wood chips in before it was turned on, the heating element would have to run for a longer time and give a better opportunity for the chips to get smoking more.

    The ribs were done in a little less than 3 hours (per ET-733 temp) and shoulders were done in 8 hours. I learned not to use beef ribs again, as there wasn't much meat on them and it was more of a taste tease. The shoulders turned out great and were pulled when temp was reading 198*. Wife couldn't wait when they finished so she pulled the pork apart and straight to sandwiches at 10PM. They were good.

    I also found that my temp controller didn't appear to be correct. I used 1 probe of Maverick in the ribs and the other in the larger shoulder. When the ribs were done, I just laid that probe on the rack. I was showing a 20-30* difference in it's reading compared to the controller's reading. I remember seeing my controller showing around 225 and probe was reading 258. I know my readings weren't "scientific" since the probe was just placed on the rack. In a few days when it warms up a little outside, I will do a better test and see how much they differ.

    I will say that I didn't foil any of the meat or put water in the pan, but the meat was juicy and tender when finished. It also had a small amount of bark on the shoulders, but the wife quickly grabbed all of it for her sandwiches. It is all a learning curve and will take awhile to get used to it. 
  6. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Trust the Maverick, not the MES.

    I'm of the same opinion on beef ribs.  Haven't found any meaty ones yet.  Had to try some, but gave them to the dogs.

    I haven't heard of using the BBQ probe on the Maverick on the meat.  I guess it should work.  I'll have to do a search on that one.

    Glad the butt turned out.  It's a bonus when the wife will give you the go ahead to smoke!!!!
  7. boatboy

    boatboy Newbie

    The ET-733 is the newest from Maverick. It has 2 identical probes. They claim you can use 1 probe for meat and 1 for smoker temp or use both for meat. I think this model just came out about a month ago and is an updated 732 so I chose it.
  8. mfreel

    mfreel Smoking Fanatic

    Great!  Another Christmas present idea!  Why didn't they think of that before?!?!?!