Considering buying an Electric smoker

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by greenersport, Jul 26, 2016.

  1. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper


    I realize that now, but I have heard and read so much rhetoric about electric smokers and pellets are not as good as wood, but the sad part is, this thing produced better smoke to the bone than my char grill using the side burner, and personally I thought it might be a little worse than real wood or charcoal and dam, it is really better when it comes to having this tight little smoke box and the AMNPS, it has surely made a believer out of me.

    And yeah we cook virtually all our meats on the Char Grill (till now hehehe) we go to a farm nearby every Wed and get Fresh ground beef and certain cuts and roasts, they are fresh cut and or ground, pork chops too, chops about a 1 1/4 thick, and then we come home and I Grill / Smoke all of the meat and we bag it and freeze it.
    We were using zip lock and probably will keep doing so, but for jerky I am vacuum sealing that, slow thaw on the meats and when you open the ziplock, it smells like I just took it off the grill, yes the wife loves smoked meat, I have met a few that do not and would never understand why, we just say fine, more for us !  LOL

    I am just still in disbelief it did a better job, I would have never thought...........................
  2. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    OK, we're getting into the good, fun part of smoking here. It comes after you've put your meat in the smoker and have done everything you've read about. You also paid attention to the temp, opened the door (unless your smoker has a window) and looked at the meat to check its color and the AMNPS to back sure it's pumping out smoke (also confirmed by checking for smoke wafting up from the vent).

    Anyway, the smoke is done because you've hit your target IT. The food's on the table and then on your plate. You dig in, take a bite and...hey--this is darn good BBQ! And you sit back and wonder and awe that you did it in an electric smoker over wood pellets. I've been there plenty of time myself. I've eaten at Dickey's BBQ Pit, Tony Roma's (for St. Louis Ribs but they're out of business in my area), a local BBQ joint (now out of business) and I can attest that the ribs that come out of my smoker are superior to all of theirs. I'll also pit the flavor of my beef brisket (still working on perfecting the bark) against those places as well, and other backyard smokers, too.

    I think to cook anything well you need a cook's touch, a talent for it. Smoking meat is just another form of cooking. Yeah, you can follow recipes and tips and advice but you also have to have a knack for it, even just to sense when it's done. Or to have full confidence in your style of smoking. What a wonderful moment to put great Q on the table. You're getting compliments about how great it looks, then how great it tastes. And you get to joyfully think of what you accomplished with a simple "I did that." To me, that's what it's all about. I don't need to enter a BBQ competition to know that my Q tastes really, really good.
  3. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper

    Rick, Amen to that, the knack can be learned, I have seen it happen, just like anything else, I guess you have to have a desire, a real interest, and learn, I have never been afraid of learning, but in the process of my life in and on, farms, hunting, woods, dirt bikes etc, I have been cooking since outside and on grills since I was 8 as well, yeah that is not brining, curing and smoking, but between indian guides, cub scouts, webelos, boy scouts, and guides, not to mention camping out, fishing trips since I was 8 as well, and I went thru that with my son as well, sharing again with him and all the other kids, so I have been building fires and coal baking in fires and pits, and grilling all my life, ever done a chicken in coals, mud packed using the "stomach timer"? hehehehe
    I do not consider myself a top notch cook and mostly because of what you say, I do not follow recipes, yes by reading them and interpreting them, I learn how I want to do mine, and if I were to have a baseline recipe for different tastes or results ( I will do that once I get good and cranked up lol), I would rarely use it specifically, it would be a baseline, the recipe would never be the same, but when I run across those really good results, I do make notes, everyone else brags on me but I think I am ok, I am like you, and I can accurately judge the meat being done or what state it may be in IE- rare, medium or done by appearance, or by knowing how many times I opened the box and the temp variations as well and the effect it will have on my meat and more than just cooking time of course, more factors than that hehehe
    But, bottom line is I am really happy I found SMF, and really impressed with all the fabulous people, just like you that are here, it is really nice.
    I spent like 3 weeks browsing here and reading reading reading, then started a text file for info, I looked at some others, but here at SMF, it would appear the "atmosphere" is much nicer and people here are more interested in helping and sharing, I love to learn, that is why I can do a multitude of things very well, but not by ability, just a result of my desire to learn new things and never quit.

    Now that I have digressed to the outer reaches, I just have to say, that the results are unbelieveable, I would have never thought, and really half the credit is the AMNPS Pellet Smoker, without the flawless flavor to the bone, it would only be half as good  LOL

    I just cannot believe this little electric smoker and pellets did that, I could not even do that on the char grill................ and I have been using that with real wood and charcoal with the side burner box for 20 + years, it is just still amazing me, so glad I got this little jewel, this is going to be so much fun, and as you said, satisfying !
  4. sigmo

    sigmo Smoking Fanatic

    I think we're both on the same page with all of this.

    I am something of a temperature measurement and temperature control geek..  Thermometer calibration is an interesting subject, but you're right. For most cooking, it doesn't need to be perfect.

    However, something that the nerd in me made me buy a while back might be of some interest to those of you who are "thermometer geeks".  That's the Reference Thermapen from Thermoworks.  It's very accurate over a good range, and is amazingly affordable for something that's traceable and comes with a certificate.

    I still keep my hand in the temperature measurement and control game, and wanted to have a traceable reference with high accuracy and resolution, but I didn't want to spend $1800 or more.  This little unit fills the bill for my current purposes.
    Brining seems to be a good thing!  And like you and the others, I've been pleased with the results that an electric smoker can produce.  With the AMNPS, and a few modifications, it's pretty failsafe.  I like being able to check the temperature of the chamber and the meat without getting out of bed when doing a long, overnight smoke, too!  :)
    I've had similar experiences with poultry.  The skin won't be crisp.  But I did a turkey a few years ago for Thanksgiving, and everyone absolutely loved it.  Very moist and tender, and a really nice smoke flavor.  I did it in the MES-40 using Pitmaster's Choice pellets in the AMNPS.

    I brined it for about 20 hours before the smoking, and it really was one of the best turkeys I've ever tasted.  The skin was rubbery and useless, but that really didn't matter.
    It's interesting to read someone else's "evolution" with regard to smoking.

    I will say that for grilling, I prefer charcoal over gas or electric.  To me, one of the things you get with charcoal is an incredibly intense source of infra-red radiation coming off of the charcoal when it's just at the peak of readiness.  That cooks the meat in a way that I've just not been able to reproduce with any other method.

    I think you could build an electric heating element system that would simulate part of the formula.  Ceramic or ceramic fiber panels with nichrome elements inside (like the panels used in the construction of a muffle furnace), that you set to any temperature you want.  That way, you could get that same sort of intense IR emission, like the charcoal produces.  But you wouldn't have the same super-heated exhaust as you get from the burning of the charcoal. You could have very hot air moving upwards, through openings between the small electric panels to simulate the hot-gas convection part of the equation, but it probably wouldn't be exactly the same.  The gasses produced by combustion of charcoal would be missing, and that might be important.

    You get different colors from glazes when firing ceramics by adjusting the air to gas ratio in a kiln so that part of the process involves a highly reducing atmosphere.  And that gives you a lot of CO, of course.  We probably inadvertently get the same sort of reducing atmosphere when we cover the grill and turn down the dampers on the bottom of the kettle to throttle things back.  And that reducing atmosphere may produce flavor components that you just wouldn't get any other way.

    You know what?  One of my all-time favorite tools is the old Smokey Joe.  We've used them for 40 years, and they can produce steaks like almost nothing else.  More often than not, I'm only cooking for four or fewer people, and a Smokey Joe, with plain old charcoal briquettes (burning well), is just the right thing for it.

    I cheat, though.  I use a propane burner for a turkey fryer and a chimney thingamajig to get my charcoal going.  Nothing drives off the moisture and gets that charcoal ready faster than a few hundred thousand BTUs per hour of propane flamage! 
    I'm kind of in the same boat.

    The electric with the AMNPS has become my favorite method of smoking just about anything!

    How do you re-heat the pre-grilled or smoked meat?  I wonder if they might not be fantastic heated up in a sous vide setup followed by a quick sear.   MMMMM!

    Had to look up your call on QRZ.  N7SEG here, by the way.
  5. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper


    Another Ham ! 
    In a smoking forum that has a little different meaning huh LOL

    You know that infra red is also created by electric elements as well (not constant, but then that is why the electric is so nice, temp control !) and the convection too of course, but I was just blown away at the flavor and quality of the meat, so many years of woods and coals and I plug in a Smoker and do my best work with the least effort, I am still kinda confused about that, but not so much that it will bother me hehehe

    I usually reheat smoked and grilled meat in what would be called a steamer, I have Cuisinart cookware, and have a real nifty "pot top" steamer that I can put a lid on, unless we are cooking for the month, that is the only time anything hits the freezer, once frozen in portion bags, just take out and simmer warm in the steamer, it does a really good job and will not hurt flavor, might loose a touch of color or glaze from a very slight rinse effect, but if you are patient that does not even happen, if it is something bigger we just go to a bigger pot and set the food item on a raised grate on the bottom of the pot, top cracked, and it is moist and not hot per say, you can make it that way, but I just go nice and warm, I do not like re-cooking stuff over and over.

    Every time I grill / smoke, unless it is for the months burgers and sausages, there is never any leftover anyway, when that food hits the table, it is all gone and you may see a couple or two "rolling" out the front door or down the driveway from the backyard if we are outside LOL, and yes that includes me, I can eat smoked meats like a shark, just slower to enjoy the flavor, it would seem all my friends have the same trait, so really, never have any leftovers, not even the turkey, maybe enough ham to make a couple of sandwiches LOL.

    But this years Turkey and Ham will be a step up, neighbor is going to deep fry one and I am going to brine and smoke one, we are going to have a cook off ROFLOL

    Nice to see another HAM, I will be getting my equipment back up soon, miss chatting with the locals and the little bit of DX I get involved in, maybe when I finally get the shack back in order after all this rock and trim work, I may actually have more time seeing I will not be working on the house all the time, this job has been tough but rewarding, 100 degree month and my electric bill was only $110 and I keep the house 74 degrees, so paying off big time, only bad thing about the electric smoker though, not free like the wood...............but for jerky I will not even be using the element and for cooking, well it will be worth a few more dollars for those delectable eats !

    73's my Friend


  6. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I admit I follow recipes for the most part but I might adjust dry rubs or bbq sauces to more suit my tastes or if by the remotest of chances some ingredient is missing from our pantry. Did you read any Harry Potter or see the movies? There's a Room Of Requirement at Hogwarts which is anything you need or want it to be. Our pantry is our Room Of Requirement. It's taken years but we've built up a stock of everything dried or liquid needed to cook almost any recipe in any cuisine. A couple of weeks ago I made a pork ribs dry rub from a Ray "Dr. BBQ" Lampe cookbook and every single required ingredient was in our pantry. My wife and I are both avid home cooks and these are the tools of our trade, so to speak.

    I can whip up seasonings for burgers and some grilled Mexican stuff on my own but for the most part I need recipes to follow to the tee or to adjust to whatever personal spin I want to put on the flavor profile.

    I also have my own thoughts on brining, Smokey Joes, and reheating smoked meats. That's from a conversation with you and Sigmo in this thread.
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2016
  7. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper


    I want to do the same thing pantry wise, that is cool you have that !
    I am sticking to wet brining / cure for now, I may try dry rubs one day but I am totally sold on the wet brine and the effects on the meat to the bone, it seems to be a bit better and I do not mind waiting to drool LOL
    And I do the same with recipes, I do not follow all of it though, as you said, I may be missing something or may want to substitute and try for a different flavor combo, I love cooking and whipping up a recipe without a recipe hehehehe
    I have a ways to go on the pantry though, we have a ton of varied spices but they are all very small quantity, I want larger, more organized and more varied spices and seasonings, I jumped in this Electric Smoker venture, and have done enough damage to the budget for now, but I will continue to get a couple more bulk spices every month, maybe more, depends, so I have a varied types of spices and seasonings, so I can do like you are doing and just walk in and know it is there [​IMG]

    But for now, I am good on the basics and I have enough to make good brines for meats and poultry and I cannot wait till I can taste the Jerky, that will be brined and cured wet, going to pick up meat this coming Wednesday from the farm, had to push it back, I want to have a batch that the meat has not been frozen at all, to see if there is a difference in taste of texture of the Jerky, just for fun hehehe

    Got my Smoke Stack on yesterday, which I did primarily for Jerky to speed the drying process, as well I will be drying some veggies and fruits and that extra air will be helpful as well for that :  

    I am just not happy unless I am aggravating engineers with MODS................................. ROFLOL..........a couple of my good friends are engineers, we have some real fun, I was a engineer in the military, but we were building and blowing up anything and everything, loved it !
  8. greenersport

    Thanks for the simple question, and for all the detailed responses that followed.  Yes, you have found the web site for information and opinions, hope you do not get overloaded, lots of great information here.

    I have had the Smoke-it #2 electric about 3 years now and I am very satisfied with it all all ways except I had to raise it up to a more comfortable loading level.  The quality is great, no tweaking, bending, sealing, or anything else.  Just put a couple small wood chunks in, load it up, turn it on and let it run.  We like extra smoke, but I have not seen a need for an amps or anything extra like that for our use, I have put a couple more chunks in after an hour or so to get more smoke if needed.

    I came out of the process control industry where a couple degrees swing might be a problem.  I have the manual temp controller, on/off like your oven.  Fretted over it a very short time, now I set it to 225 and let it swing a few degrees back and forth, so what?  Some people smoke at 225, some 250, some higher, do what works for you.  On long smokes it keeps things more steady than I can stay awake and watch what it is doing.  I just set it and forget it till the IT beeper goes off.

    At first I missed seeing the smoke ring, but tried to do a blind taste test, neither one of us could tell a difference.  Charcoal with wood logs did give a little dryer crust..

    Let us know what you decide and keep us updated..

    Ken WB5Y  ( another Ham Radio operator here also from Oklahoma ) .
  9. sigmo

    sigmo Smoking Fanatic

    That's pretty neat!  Three hams in just this one thread.  Not to mention all of the other fantastic forum members.

    Howdy to you all.

    I always learn a lot whenever I visit these forums.  And I enjoy tinkering and solving problems.  So this is a lot of fun to play with as well as making some fantastic meals!

    Guy:  You're in for some real treats with both the smoked and the deep fried turkeys!  We've done them both ways, and while different, they all came out just great.

    Cooking is a lot of fun as well as being satisfying when doing the eating.  There's a lot of technical detail, and I think that appeals to many of us technical geeks.  Maybe that's why we see a lot of hams among the ranks here.

    Ken:  That Smoke It seems like a great piece of equipment.  I've read a little about them, and they seem nice, indeed!

    Rick:  My wife and I have been gathering more and more "essentials" to the point that we recently had to remodel our kitchen and some of the surrounding area in our smallish house, primarily to make for more "pantry" space.  It's just nice to have what you need already on hand most of the time.  Of course, you can never have everything you need, but you can work toward it!

    What a great forum!
  10. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Sigmo, it's taken us about 10 years to gather all the stuff in our pantry. By "pantry" I'm also referring to kitchen cabinets with even more spices, baking stuff, and other stuff. Yes, even though we've amassed a formidable stockpile of ingrediments [sic] we still need to buy the perishable fresh produce stuff but we have the core makings on hand for all types of recipes in many different cuisines. When it comes to smoking, a dry rub correctly stored can last at least a couple of years. I know this from personal experience. Homemade BBQ sauce can last almost indefinitely if frozen right. There are sauce recipes out there you can make at home that are easily as good as the commercial ones, even the sauces with bourbon.

    I recommend this forum all the time when I talk to people who also own smokers. My Q wouldn't be nearly as good as it is without what I've learned here.
  11. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper


    I cannot wait for the eats !
    And I need to catch up with you and Rick on the slice and seasoning stock, I am jealous !

    Getting ready to try the Jerky, then some Bacon and make sure I get some roasts and ham brining for the holidays coming up, gonna be a tasty year  [​IMG]
  12. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper

    I am finding lots of Hams hiding in the clouds of smoke here on the forum [​IMG]
  13. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper


    Forgot, I have been finding Hams hiding in the TBS here on the Forum hehehe
    And this is a fantastic Forum, I mean what better to have in a Forum about Smoking meat other than some real Hams you do not have to cure [​IMG]
  14. sigmo

    sigmo Smoking Fanatic

    That's the way I feel.  I've learned so much on here.  It really is fantastic to have so much experience and knowledge being shared by great folks.  It hardly seems fair to take credit when something turns out great after having been coached by everyone on here.  :)
    We tend to buy goodies a little bit at a time as things catch our eye.  Sometimes I still have to make a run to a store to pick up something for a recipe, but it's getting so that happens less and less.  Except, as Rick points out, for the perishable ingredients.

    I'd like to try some bacon, too.  I got all worked up to try some a couple of years back, but still haven't tried it.  I have the cure #2 and #1, though.  So at least I won't have to run out to find that. [​IMG]

    Well some of us may need some sort of cure, just not THAT kind!  [​IMG]

    My son was in town today.  We talked about smoking.   He and his family are living in a place at 7200 feet elevation.  So I was wondering if he was having any problems keeping pellets lit, etc.  And he said he'd given up on pellets.

    But his solution is that he breaks up some charcoal and lays in a layer of that on the bottom of his AMNPS, then soaks chunks of smoking wood in water, and sets them on top of the charcoal.  Then he lights the charcoal, and it burns along nicely, roasting the chunk wood as it goes.  He's been doing a lot of smoking there!  So I thought that was a clever way to make it work.

    He and his wife are both hams as is my wife.  His wife's father is a ham, and he was really happy to find out that my son had gotten his daughter to finally get her license!

    He does a lot of CW, and had a fantastic station when he lived here.  But the funny part is that his son, at about age 3, loved putting on the headphones and listening to CW with dad!  Years ago, my son was the youngest licensed ham in the state.  I figure his kids will be into it even earlier!

    There really are a lot of hams on this forum for some reason.
  15. I used to have a cheapo brinkman smoker (actually, just remembered that I still have's just out of sight, out of mind). I never had an issue getting a smoke ring or TBS. I would wrap wood chunks in foil, cut/poke holes in the top, and set a few in the bottom of the smoker between the spaces in the heating element. Worked well for me. Can't speak for the other models that have been mentioned in the post, but my neighborhood smelled like sweet smokiness and slow smoked meat every time!
  16. gregor

    gregor Smoke Blower

    Lol took me reading the whole thread to understand ham was referring to ham radio ;)
  17. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Masterbuilt is shipping me a new controller. After it arrives I'm gonna try a great meat candy recipe I came across in a new cookbook we bought. Not sure if I'll ever try bacon but I'd sure love to try my luck at making some authentic New York Deli Pastrami.
  18. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper

    I love Bacon, so does the wife, have to make some Bacon !!!
    Meat candy sounds illegal hehehe, I will have to ask you about that some time
  19. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper


    That is all I used for years, used to put the charcoal all the way in the bottom and slow cook, would always use a pan of water, it made the best eats in the world, could not make allot though, so had to get something bigger, moved to the chargrill, and now I find this little electric on does better than they all did lol, I still have my brinkman in the shop, take it on camps and fishing outings, they are real nice cookers !!!
  20. n4ynu

    n4ynu Meat Mopper

    ROFLOL, oh no, 2 different hams now, smoking one is good, smoking the other could lead to jail time or a very upset ham ROFLOL

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