1st Timer - ECB - Bad - Wha'd I do wrong?

Discussion in 'Charcoal Smokers' started by julin999, Dec 9, 2009.

  1. julin999

    julin999 Newbie

    I bought an ECB at Walmart a few weeks ago. I'd done a lot of grilling, never smoked anything and wanted to try it. I had a rack of beef ribs and a venison roast thawed to try. I got the smoker heated up and pan full of water. I placed the roast on the bottom rack and the ribs on the top. Hickory chips in the charcoal were smoking very well. Only thermometer I had was the one that came with it (warm/ideal/hot). Kept a close eye on the temp and kept it in "Ideal" the entire time. Smoked the meat about 5-5 1/2 hours.

    It turned out terrible. The ribs were tough and the outside of them was like biting thru a rubber membrane. The roast was a little better (the inside anyway). Had a good smokey flavor but the outside again was tough and not good.

    I have a thing about just diving in when I want to try something. But where'd I go wrong? Please keep your response under 100 bullet points please.:)

  2. danj

    danj Meat Mopper

    just from what i have learned in here get yourself a digital thermometer with a probe so you can watch the doness temp and go by the them.


    COOKED HAM 140 / 60
    BEEF/ VEAL/ LAMB 145 / 63 (RARE)
    BEEF/ VEAL/ LAMB 160 / 72 (MEDIUM)
    BEEF/ VEAL /LAMB 170 / 77 (WELL DONE)
    PORK 160 / 72
    POULTRY 165 / 74 Turkey seems to be better @ 170
    (These are USDA recommended internal temperatures)
    I hope that will help. but im sure there will be a lot more posts to help you out.
  3. hdsmoke

    hdsmoke Smoking Fanatic

    Im still a rookie too...but i think the biggest thing to help you start is get a better thermometer! You need to monitor your cooking chamber temp at the grate levels as well as internal meat temp. Others will be responding shortly with details im sure! Good luck dont let it ruin ya for the future!
  4. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    Well, you picked two drastically different types of meat for one. Beef ribs are on the fatty side, venison is not. Ribs you want done over a long period, maybe the 3-2-1 method, although I only go around 4 1/2 hours.
    Did you wrap the venison roast in Bacon to keep it from drying out? Most of my roast only end up at 135* internal. Did you pull the membrane off the beef ribs?
    For newbies starting smoking, I would try some Chicken quarters. Hard to mess them up. Once you got that down, branch off to ribs and other cuts of meat.
    One last thing. Pick yourself up a digital temp gauge. I found the gauge in my old ECB was off by 65* !!!

    Rare 125° - 130°
    Medium-rare 135° - 140°
    Medium 145° - 150°
    Medium-well 155° - 160°
    Well done 165° and above
  5. jirodriguez

    jirodriguez Master of the Pit OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Definately don't trust the lids thermometer, thos things can be off by 50° or more! Also if you poke around the forums there are some good easy mods for the ECB's that sound like they make a world of differance.
  6. danj

    danj Meat Mopper

    Sorry I noticed a typo in my post.
    **POULTRY 165 / 175 Turkey seems to be better @ 170°
  7. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    LOL, you must be at a higher elevation than us flat landers. See my beef temps I posted. As to the Poultry. My wife wants her chicken DONE. I have to hit 180 before she will try it. [​IMG]
  8. julin999

    julin999 Newbie

    Thanks for all the responses. I will be getting digital thermometer and give the chicken a try next time. Unfortunately, I live in Iowa and we're under a ton of snow right now, so it'll be a while.

    Questions about the thermometers. I've seen good and bad reviews about the Taylor digital thermometer. Is it good for someone with a budget? Also, some articles I have read make it sound like the thermometer probe is always in the meat while it is smoking. Is that right? Isn't the heat bad for the electronics and wiring?

    told you I was new to this.

    thanks again for the responses
  9. flash

    flash Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I have a Taylor unit. I have eventually had to replace the probe, but otherwise it is still working fine. They are suppose to handle up to 400*, so you should have not issue with them, but do watch touching the probe directly to a hot grate. Budget minded, you may want to look for the Accurite Temp Gauge down at a local Wal-mart. usually around $15 to $18.
  10. the dude abides

    the dude abides Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Hey Iowa. Sorry your first didn't turn out for ya. But I concur about the thermometers. Got to have two quality, accurate (by YOU testing it) thermometers. One for the cooking chamber and one for the meat. Depending on what you're cooking, I recommend you wait to insert the probe into the meat until it's been on the heat for a couple of hours. This allows any bacteria that may be on the meats surface to be killed off by the heat so you don't shove it down deep into the meat when you insert the probe.

    I have a Maverick ET73. They're not cheap ($60-$70) but they have a remote that (usually) allows you to sit inside and monitor what's going on outside. Plus, you can buy extra probes and have several going at once by plugging them in one at a time to see what's going on without opening the lid to your smoker.

    Hope the next smoke goes better
  11. ciolli

    ciolli Meat Mopper

    Don't get discouraged man... I remember the first brisket i smoked, it was like shoe leather. I was wondering what the hell i had gotten myself into. But like the old saying goes, if at first you don't succeed, keep suckin' till you do succeed! As others have said, grab yourself a digital thermo, and try something else that has is a little more forgiving. You'll get it down, and be the man in no time.
  12. tn_bbq

    tn_bbq Smoking Fanatic

    Sorry to hear that. My first few tries on the smoker stunk to high heaven.

    I'm wondering if you needed to cook it a bit longer to make sure all that connective tissue broke down.

    Big hunks of meat can be tricky. I too would recommend trying something just a bit simpler (chicken, sausage, fatties, etc.) next time until you get a little more comfortable with your smoker.
  13. billbo

    billbo Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  14. meateater

    meateater Smoking Guru SMF Premier Member

    When I first started smoking I used hickory....er..er..er..er, macho man thing heavy smoke. I still use hickory but scaled way down and will mix it up with apple and or cherry sometimes. Still looking to try maple and some others. I still have a batch of mesquite I will only use for grilling, just to acrid for me for smoking. JMHO

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