Considering Smoking...

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by dbbyleo, May 19, 2015.

  1. Hi,

    I'm really interested in smoking meat.  I've done a bit of research, but I have one lingering question.  Smoking meat seems like a lengthy process where it could take anywhere up to 4 hours to smoke meat.

    My question is...

    Do people normally smoke meat enough for just one meal?  Or do people smoke in batches?

    Smoking in batches seems to be more practical since it is such a lengthy process and also uses lots of "energy", whether it be a charcoal smoker or electric. 

    (I'm thinking about going the way of electric smoker BTW).

    A friend of mine who has been smoking a lot lately... basically most of his dinners, says his electric bill has gone through the roof since then.

    I would think that a freshly smoked meat made specially for that meal would be most ideal, but it is also practical to smoke in batches and store the smoked meat?  Or is that complete ridiculous idea to smoke meat then only refrigerate it afterwards for later consumption.

    I'm thinking about getting a 30" smoker.  My thought was if I did smoke, I would smoke batches of meat.  For example, if I wanted to have smoked ribs that evening, I may go ahead and throw my trout in the smoker and other meats I have to smoke to fill the rest of the rack to make most use of the space, time and energy I'm going to spend.

  2. seenred

    seenred Smoking Guru Group Lead OTBS Member

    First off, I see this is your first post...welcome to SMF!

    Now to your questions, it really all depends on your needs, experience, and perspective. I don't think there's really a wrong answer. I will often smoke only one chunk of meat in my pit at a time...a pork butt or a rack of spare ribs, a whole chicken (or chicken parts). But there are other times when the smoker is full of ribs, briskets, pork butts, tenderloins, etc.

    And BTW, there are MANY cuts of meat that take much longer to smoke than 4 hours. It is a cooking method that requires a lot of time and patience.

    Just know that smoking multiple meats together takes a little practice and experience, especially for a novice. What I mean is, many cooks will smoke poultry at a much higher pit temperature than they cook either beef or pork, while a lot of fish is generally smoked at much lower temps than poultry, beef or pork...So, as you can see, there are variables to consider if you want to combine beef, pork, poultry an/or fish into a single smoke.

    And lastly, I'm not disputing your friend's claim regarding power usage, but that is not my personal experience at all. The electric smokers I have used (Masterbuilt 40", Rec Tec pellet smoker) had relatively small impact on power usage/electric bills.

    Hope that helps...

  3. noboundaries

    noboundaries Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    dbbyleo, welcome to SMF.  Be sure to stop in over at roll call and say "hi" so folks can give you an enthusiastic welcome!

    Lets answer your easy question first about smoking for just one meal or in batches.  For dinners and lunches I smoke enough meat on Saturday or Sunday to last me all week.  In reality what I'm doing is not truly smoking meat.  What the vast majority of us do here is hot roasting meat in a smoky oven, aka as hot smoking.  We'll use "chamber" temps between 200F and 500F because they all work.  People are very passionate about their processes, temperatures, fuels, etc.  Someone might take 20 hours to smoke a pork shoulder at 210F and someone else will get the same result in 4-5 hours at 350F. 

    Now, your unasked questions.  You can hot smoke parted chicken, fish, sausage, lean beef, steaks, burgers, meatloafs, etc in 2-4 hours.  The nice thing about some smokers is you can get it going, load the meat, and basically forget about it for hours while it does it's thing. 

    Bottom line, it all works and is delicious. 

    And suddenly I have to run.  Be back later.  
  4. oldschoolbbq

    oldschoolbbq Smoking Guru OTBS Member

      I hope you do start smoking , you have found the best BBQ information , use it . You'll find We enjoy the questions and like the problem solving .

    As for the smoker you getting ,try looking at this info. ,

    The amount you smoke depends on you. A little or a lot , whatever floats your boat . A Vac. Sealer is a great help with big cooks .

    was for a party , I did 8 of these ,

     and this was for me . . .

     and small cooks don't last .

    So get some good thermometers , learn 'patience' and get your smoker and start you new Hobby .

    A welcome from me and hoping you stay as a part of our 'Family'.

    Do go to Roll Call and get you rousing welcome

    Have fun and . . .
  5. mr t 59874

    mr t 59874 Master of the Pit SMF Premier Member

    Welcome to the forum.

    As you seem to be apprehensive toward purchasing a smoker of any type, I suggest you consider purchasing a hand - held smoker.  You will find it can be purchased at a fraction of the cost of an electric smoker and with relatively no operating cost other than batteries. This smoke generator will allow you to add smoke flavor by smoking individual items for very short periods of time prior to consumption such as steaks, shaved meats, cheese slices, fish, wine, soups, and on and on, virtually anything.  Having four grills and six smokers, I think qualifies me to evaluate the performance of this handy smoker.  If you are looking for smoke flavor rather than technique, consider purchasing one.  Mine has become an essential appliance in the kitchen.

    The following are some examples as how it can be used.  Mr T's - Fresh - Salt Crusted - Prime Rib Roast - Q/View,  Mr. T's, "Smoked Ice Cream" from scratch,  Smoked Butter - From Scratch Q/view,  Smoking Lettuce from Go to Show - Q/View

    Have fun and welcome to the world of smoking.

  6. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    The cost to operate an electric smoker is small. A Masterbuilt 30" electric has an 800 watt heating element. For comparison the smallest burner on an electric stove top is most likely 1200 watts or higher. 

    As mentioned above, some items take a lot longer than 4 hours.

    I personally almost always smoke extra food. I like to fill the smoker so that I am making the most efficient use of my time. I then take the leftovers and vacuum seal then and freeze them. The frozen leftovers are easy to reheat by boiling them for 10-20 minutes (I had leftover pulled pork for dinner last night that I had smoked in March).
  7. stickyfingers

    stickyfingers Smoking Fanatic

    "up to 4 hours"...more like up to 16+ hours depending on your choice of meat and style. But the answer is yes on both counts. Sometimes its one meal, sometimes its eaten at several and sometimes its a whole bunch of people eating it at each of the previous stated.
  8. Wow guys... sounds like I did come to the right place.

    The whole batch vs single was a big concern. The idea of smoking sound great, but I wanted to make sure the picture I had in my head was the right. And it sounds like it is. Mainly that if I was going to have smoked meat one night, then it's practical to go ahead and load up all the racks and store the rest for later eating ... Keeping in mind different kinds of meats have different smoking requirements.

    The whole vacuum sealed food packs did also cross my mind. So thanks for confirming that's a good way to store smoked meats.

    Ok.. so I think I'm passed the first gate. From a practicality stand point, I think this definitely has place in our household. So now moving on to the smoker unit. I think I'll start a new thread for that one.
  9. Ok I'll just post it here as well...

    So... What's a newbie to get for his first smoker?

    Based on what I've read so far, it looks like electric is the way I wanna go.

    While I wanna take my time really honing in the right model, I've got an craiglist item that might be a good deal for a newb like me and I'd like to get you opinion on it.

    It's a used Masterbuilt 40" Sportman Elite 20073012. Listing states it's in excellent condition and the photos seems to support that. It's got the 4 racks, remote, probe, windows, etc. Asking $250, but we've settled at $175. Based on what this is going for at Cabelas, this seems like a really good deal and relatively inexpensive way for me to get into a fairly decent unit with some bell and whistles.

    Based on research here, this is a Gen2 unit sold at the big box retail store - in this case, Cabelas. My concern is what people have said about Gen 2 units in general... fire in the chip tray... heating element issues, etc. Is this just a cardinal rule in here - "Stay clear for Gen 2 from Masterbuilt" ?? Based on the info here, this particular model has the 1200W HE, not lower ones which would seem under powered for the 40". Anyway... back to the "Gen 2s are bad news" idea - is this really the case and should I just forget about this item?

    Second concern... I've read that since these MB units only can go up to 275 degrees that these aren't good for doing poultry - whole chicken, whole turkey etc. But some say while that may be true, you can always finish the bird in the over or grill to get the skin crispy, which sounds like the only issue with poultry at low temps is the chewy skin you would get. Still for the most part... the reviews on the masterbuilts seems to outstanding on amazon - 4.5 out of 5 in over 1000 reviews. The current model on amazon is a gen2, though I wonder if the all 1000 reviews is combined with previous gen1 units.
  10. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    I have a Gen2 and love it. Yes it took a few smokes to figure out its quirks but now I have it dialed in. The main problem with the Gen2 is the design of the drip tray and the exhaust. They have a tendency to have uneven temps because of these items but that can be overcome.

    As for buying a used MES, you have to keep in mind that these units are electronic and just like anything that relies on electrical components to operate there is a chance of failure. I would be afraid to buy a used one without running it to make sure it can get all the way up to temp (275).

    Yes you are correct about not getting crisp skin on a MES, but as you already have seen there are ways around this.

    I think an electric smoker is a very good start for someone just getting into smoking. What unit to buy depends entirely on your budget. You also need to budget for the accessories like a good dual probe thermometer (which can set you back $60-$75). 
  11. Ok... thanks.  I think I'm just going to start a new post to hone on this topic.  Thanks for all the feedbacks.
    Last edited: May 20, 2015

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