First Time Smoking with MES 30" -- Few Questions

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by wincanton, Jan 1, 2015.

  1. wincanton

    wincanton Newbie

    So today is my first attempt at using the MES 30" smoker and I am cooking a pork butt.  Couple of questions/verifications of if I am doing this correctly:

    1.  Do I put water in the pan?  

    2.  For the grease to get to the exterior drip pan, it looks like it has to dribble down from the meat and into the water pan and if it overflows with grease it will hit the interior drip pan and then drain to the exterior drain pan.  Is that about right?  

    3.  I have a wireless meat and smoker temperature guage.  One probe for the meat, one for the internal smoker temperature.  I calibrated the probes with boiling water and they both read 212 degrees.  The MES is reading about 5 degress lower.  Should I increase the MES temperature?

  2. You will get some differing opinions on some of these answers.  First the water question is debated regularly . My take is to leave the complete  pan out of the smoker.(no water is needed). The debate is on just putting the empty pan in as a heat sink.Put tin foil on every thing for easy clean up including the factory drip pan. Use the bottom rack as a holder for a foil lined disposable pan to catch the grease. The foil will allow you to use it several times  Don't use the factory pan and drip system. It takes too long to clean up properly

    I don't know what temp  you are going to smoke your meat at but 5 degrees one way or the other is nothing to worry about. 

     Here is a bit of unsolicited advice. Find a good recipe before you start. Join Jeff's 5 day cooking school. It's FREE  Use bears recipes or Jeff's You will have a great product when it is finished. My last bit of advice is to never try to predict when a piece of meat is going to be done. The only prediction you can count on is with Pork Ribs. Your butt will take a minimum of 1.5 hours per  pound. Then the time you let it rest , well it takes a lot of time. Being patient is the hardest part of the cook. If you have more questions just ask. Jted

    Last edited: Jan 1, 2015
  3. werdwolf

    werdwolf Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't put water in the drip pan unless I'm trying to use it with some vegetables to make a gravy or something.

    Never had the "water" pan overflow with grease.

    I agree that those couple degrees won't matter to much.  if you move the temp probe around in your smoker you will get a couple of degrees difference.

    Hope this helps.
  4. wincanton

    wincanton Newbie

    Thanks for responding to my questions.  It sounds like I am on the right track, though I did put a cup of water in the pan.  It was not obviously described in the MES instructions as to when to add water.  

    Interestingly, after about 30 minutes in the smoker, the wireless probe on the rack started reading a 50 degree lower temperature between the probe and the MES' guage on the top of the smoker.  It turns out the meat spread itself out some and was touching the wireless' probe that was on the rack.  After scooting the meat over a few inches, the temperature went back to matching the MES' guage.
  5. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I leave my water pan inside my MES but it's empty and foiled over. Someone here advised me to leave it in since that was part of the smoker design. I don't know if it needs to be but the benefit of leaving it in and foiled over is that it also catches grease drippings which means less drippings actually make it to the grease drip pan below.

    There's supposed to already be a hot spot in the right rear of the MES so I don't know if removing the water pan would allow the heat to be better distributed but I like to leave it in just for the grease drippings thing. I've found no difference in the moistness of the meat and smoke absorption with our without water. If you're going to add water, I'd say a cup should be fine. I used to fill mine up and that produced way too much steam for the interior size of the smoker.

    I own the Maverick ET-733 and observe temp differences between it and the MES temp display all the time. Since I've been told there are heat variances inside the MES 30 Gen 1 (which is what I own) I'm going to play around more with placement of the probes in the smoker to see where I get the most accurate readings, both for Barbecue and for Food.

    The MES 30 temp display will show temp swings, or at least mine does. I have the ET-733 set to sound an alarm when the temp swings past my minimum and maximum settings. If that happens I increase or decrease the temp accordingly. If it swings up to 15-20 degrees either way without going outside of my parameters I leave it alone since it will average out to my set point anyway.
  6. As said above except I fill the water pan with sand and wrap with foil. That helps to hold temp.

    Happy smoken.

  7. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I think the important advisory for using sand is one I learned the hard way. Before you move your MES, take the sand-filled, foiled-over water pan out first. I figured the foil would hold everything in as I bungee corded my MES to a hand truck and wheeled it into my garage for storage. When I next brought it out and put it on a table I use and opened it, there was all this grease-filled sand piled up along the rear wall of my MES 30. Took me at least 30 minutes to brush it all out and to thoroughly clean the wall and floor of my MES. I've never used sand since that day, especially since I didn't see it keeping the interior temp any more stable than not using sand.
  8. wincanton

    wincanton Newbie

    Thanks everyone for the last minute assist with my pork Butt yesterday.  It turned out very well.  The water pan did not overfill and some non-greasy fluid drained out the back into the drain pain.  The dual probe wireless thermomenter is a great tool and appears to be a "must have" for smoking since I never needed to open the door to check the temperature.  The last 15 degrees sure took forever.  

    The meat did not seem tender enough to "pull" so I diced it up instead.  (The Bear Paws finally arrived today, so I was unable to try them last night).  One question I have is, if I cooked it longer than the 180 degrees, would the meat been easier to pull?  What part of the process gets the meat to be easily torn off the bone?

    Thanks again!
  9. The tough connective tissue in the muscle doesn't started to break down until 195 or so. Typical pulled pork temps are gonna be 200 degrees IT and up. 180-190 is a typical slicing temp range for a pork shoulder.
  10. Yes 200 and up ,I like 205 Whatever temp you take it to you should be able to move the bone. After it rests that bone will pull out clean.  Here is a link a link to Jeff's page with several pork recipes  Jted
    Last edited: Jan 3, 2015
  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I think the newbies to smoking and perhaps using those tougher cuts of meat for the first time get confused on cooking them to the proper IT. If you're used to cooking pork chops or pork loin, cooking them to 200° is going to leave them overcooked and dry. Cooking a pork shoulder to 180° IT is going to leave it tough for the reasons mentioned in this thread. Low and slow cooking of "cheap" meats in a smoker is different from cooking the better cuts which is where a good and accurate therm with at least one probe is all important. I put cheap in quotes because I'm sure all of you have seen the increases in prices for pork shoulder (pork butt), beef brisket, pork ribs, even chuck roasts due to a surge in popularity in these cuts among home smokers (and slow cookers in general) and due to meat, poultry, and seafood prices increasing anyway.

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