First baby back ribs on MES with AMNPS

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by jesse t, Jan 29, 2012.

  1. Did some baby back ribs last night and was ready to do the aquarium pump mod on my MES in case I had trouble keeping the AMNPS lit but it wasn't necessary.  It was actually burning too quickly at one point and I had to move it and give it more of a heat shield.  What a great little device.  I can't imagine going back to the inconsistent smoke and high maintenance of wood chips.  I had them on for about 5 hours and wrapped them in foil for the last hour or so. 

    Mustard and Rub


    AMNPS smoking nicely


    Right before going into the foil.


    Pulled off and let sit for awhile then opened them up


    Dinner.  I intended to grill some asparagus as a side but I decided to just have ribs in the end.  Shame on me.


    Overall I'm quite pleased. This is probably my 10th smoke on the MES and the first that I didn't put any water in the water tray due to the AMNPS. I sprayed them with an apple cider vinegar and olive oil mix every hour because I was kind of concerned about dryness.  I have also previously done spare but not baby backs.  The spare ribs have been good but a little more fatty than I prefer.  The spare ribs were definitely more "fall off the bone" but I think that I prefer the slightly firmer consistency I got this time.  I might try 2-2-1 next time but I'm so pleased with the texture I'm not sure I want to deviate. I'm also considering using a rib rack and cutting the racks in half so I can fit 2 on 1 level of the smoker.  I'm going to try a chicken today and see how it turns out with no water in the tray. 
  2. tjohnson

    tjohnson Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Insider OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    Looks Great Jesse!

    2-2-1 may work a little better next time

  3. scarbelly

    scarbelly Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I agree with Todd 
  4. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    Yep, if you haven't tried the 2-2-1 method you should give it a try to see if you like the results.
  5. Ok then, you guys have me convinced.  It will be 2-2-1 next weekend.
  6. tyotrain

    tyotrain Master of the Pit

    Looks good nice job

    Sent from my iPhone using Tapatalk

    Have fun and Happy smoking :)
  7. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't understand, when using the AMNPS you are not using the water tray, WHY?

    If you are concerned about dryness, then use the water tray with plenty of hot water.  Seriously the water tray with water, keeps the MES inside environment moist, which helps produce moist Q.  Another point for the water tray, is the moisture helps transfer the smoke flavor through the meat surface, this is why it takes very little wood chips to get a nice smoke flavor in a MES.

    Regarding spritzing, some will disagree because the new higher wattage MES have faster recovery so the cook can open his MES and spritz, but is it necessary, NO.  Again if spritzing is to help keep the meat surface moist the MES already does this by design when properly using the water tray.  Back in 08-09 several on the SMF electric forum played with Spritzing and No Spritzing and found that Spritzing only slowed down the cook times, and did very little for moisture and flavor.

    Also regarding 321, 221, 421, 10-4-1 hut, there are so many variables that have an influence on the cooking process in a smoker.  The MES is designed to eliminate many of the variables so you can have repeatable results.  However, different brands of meat, wind, load size, ambient temp, door opening, and other factors will play havoc on the "rule of thumb" cooking times for 321 or 221.  IMHO the best thing is to pay attention to "pull back", how much pull back does your ribs have on the bone?  Pull back is a clear visible sign how far along the meat is in the cooking process.   At 1/4" to 3/8" pull back, that is a good time to foil (if your method requires foiling), if you wait to 1/2" pull back you have waited too long, your meat after foiling will fall off the bone, and that wonderful tender pull away from bone texture will instead just be less flavorful meat dropping off the bone with very little pressure.  Another clue in addition to "pull back" is does the rib rack flex when picked up with tongs, if you have "pull back" and the rib rack has nice flex (the connective tissues) are breaking down allowing the rib rack to flex.

    I have had up to 14 racks of ribs in my MES 40", and instead of the MES achieving set temp in an hour it might take 3 or 4 hours, so then what happens to 321 or 221?  There is no guessing when you use "pull back" and flex as your guide.  However the 321 or 221 is a general rule of thumb and around 2 hours start looking for that pull back, and after you get the desired pull back revert to the remainder of the rule of thumb you are using.
    Last edited: Feb 2, 2012
  8. africanmeat

    africanmeat Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    it looks good from here
  9. Good info, thanks.  The directions on the AMNPS says that water can negatively effect the pellets burning.  I had also done some reading on the water vs no water and decided to give it a shot.  I have no complaints about how the ribs turned out with no water in the tray but now I'm curious so I think I'll try it with water next time.
  10. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

  11. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't own the AMNPS, I have a beta model of the 6x6 AMNS and use it in a 40" MES, using it I haven't really had a moisture problem, that could be due to I use my own dust, which is a tad larger particle/chips and I sift it so only larger particle/chips are used . 

    Everyone develops their own way of using the MES either no water or with water, soaked wood chips vs no soak, no spritz vs spritz, the goal is the same good Q.  Repeatable excellent tasting Q is my goal, I'm no expert and try to relate info either discovered on my own or what others have reported and has been confirmed, and the purpose is help produce excellent Q using the MES.
  12. backporch

    backporch Newbie

    I have the same smoker. What did you do to get air into the smoker to burn the amnps?
  13. I'm actually having trouble with the AMNPS getting too hot and burning way too quickly with the smoker @ 225, even with a water tray filled right beside it.  Prior to getting it I was concerned about getting proper air flow after reading about others having problems with it.  Todd mentioned that one possibility would be to use an aquarium pump to add some air flow.  I believe he fed it through the drain in the bottom while another person drilled a hole in the side.  I actually preemptively purchased a cheap aquarium pump and a brass pipe to feed the air in from the side but it has not been necessary.  It's interesting that some people with the same MES model have completely opposite difficulties when it comes to the AMNPS. 
  14. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    First I don't have a AMNPS I have a AMNS, 2nd Todd is the expert, so if I give a suggestion that isn't in line with anything Todd advises ignore what I say.

    Lets make some basic assumptions:    Fire =  heat + air + fuel , the same applies for smoldering wood chips.

    Next Does the stock MES have enough air for smoldering (and either the AMNPS or AMNS or electric elements will provide the heat and wood chips or dust or pellets is the fuel.

    Before the glass door on the MES the wood chip tray was wide and rested almost on the heat elements, and there was no extra piece of metal between the bottom of the chip tray and elements. The glass door MES also brought the narrow chip tray and an extra piece of metal between the tray and elements, and with that also complaints about wood chips not burning/smoking.  MB came out with a mod tray so that extra piece of metal was gone and that fixed anyone's issue with not enough heat.  WHY the heck am I saying this history of the MES, because there NEVER was an issue with air.  So all the people adding holes to the MES are doing just that, they are adding holes.  The MES was designed to have just enough air so the wood chips with proper heat would smolder, not catch fire and burn up.

    Ok now add the AMNS, the only difference here is dust instead of chips and the source of heat is the hot cherry bits like a cigar when lit before adding the AMNS to the MES, is there enough air to smolder?  YES!  I  have been using the AMNS since it came out and was an original beta tester for Todd.  Does this mean that the AMNS works perfectly, NO!  I had to play with it a bit, I had issues getting it too close to the elements and all the dust igniting, (I have a MES 40", an MES 30 may have even more issues because it is tighter).  Thus the need for a possible heat shield, in my case I just moved the AMNS to the far left side of cabinet.  I still had issues with the burn in the AMNS jumping tracks, solved by using alum foil on the rails of the track so the cherry couldn't burn through the holes, and being careful how high I packed the dust.  As for air that has NEVER been an issue, the critical thing is to get a hot cherry lighted without igniting more than the end.  There are a number of tricks to do this, just experiment and you will figure it out.

    What about the AMNPS, pellets may be different, and have different heat and air requirements.  To test how the pellets work in the MES put a hand full of pellets in the wood chip tray and see if they start and smolder properly, you might want to start with some wood chips about 12 first 15 minutes, then another 12, and you should have a nice bed of hot ash (similar to cherry) and then add half cup of pellets and see how they work.  Note if they light and just smolder.  Remember these will are dumped loosely into the tray, so they may act differently than tight packed in AMNPS.

    If the pellets burn / smolder properly then you know the issue is NOT air.  If they won't burn, then the need for either greater heat or more air.  But first you really need to know how they work with the existing air before you start drilling holes.

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