I think I'm done using water in my MES40

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by atomic dog, Feb 13, 2012.

  1. atomic dog

    atomic dog Fire Starter

    Been experimenting and I find that when I go in dry the food has a better flavor and less creosote flavor.

    When I fill the water ban with a few ounces of water things tend to develop that forest fire flavor which my wife hates (and so do I).  I can't understand exactly why water in the water pan would do this because the smoker box is dry and seems to be burning nicely.

    Am I just out of my mind, or have others found that going dry all the way seems to produce the best flavor?
  2. thoseguys26

    thoseguys26 Master of the Pit

    I wish I could help but all I can say is I've smoked in my new MES 40 about 9 times without ever using water in my pan and Everything has come out fantastic!
  3. I stopped using a water pan in my MES40 too. I had good results both ways but I stopped just to save on the effort of foiling and filling  the pan before each smoke and cleaning the pan after each smoke. I now just place some aluminum foil (doubled up with final size about 10" x 15" and edges turned up) on the second from bottom rack to catch most drippings, disburse the heat from the element, and protect the AMNPS located on the bottom rack. I do not load up the smoker that much so this works for me...
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  4. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Atomic Dog, while some have figured out how to smoke in their MES without the water pan, you do realize that the MES was designed to work specifically with the water pan.  WHY?  Because it works, it works if done properly.

    First some thoughts on using water pans for smoking meat.  If you have access to old episodes of BBQ Pitmasters you will notice that even in wood smokers many on the BBQ circuit have started using water pans.  The reason is the water helps keep the smoker filled with slightly moist smoke instead of dry smoke.  There is a reason why this is desirable, a little moisture on the meat helps the meat absorb the smoke flavor better, in addition there is less chance of drying out their smoked meat making it a less quality product, and certainly something they wouldn't want to turn in for competition.  The smoker that wins the most competitions is the Weber Smoky Mountain, and those guys are all using the water pan.

    Using a water pan in the MES provides a number of benefits, above I described one of the main ones, the other is to stabilize temp, providing a more consistent heat verses sharp transitions when the heat element is going on & off.  Also due to the moist smoke environment you don't need to spritz your meat, you can simply leave the MES door closed and let it do it's job.  Spritzing does very little for flavor, the smoke is the seasoning flavoring the meat and the rub or injections, the only thing spritzing does for MES is extend your cook times because the MES has to recover, thus each time you open the door your adding 15 to 20 minutes to your smoke time.  So if you leave out the water & spritz you are just subjecting the meat to longer harsh heat transitions.   Can some make this work for them, sure.  But it is easier just to properly use the MES.

    If you are getting creosote flavor, you are using too many chips.  You are most likely doing this because you have a newer MES with the choked wood chip tray, which has the extra piece of metal separating the wood chips from the heat elements.  Thus you are NOT getting good wood chip combustion/smoldering.  YOU need the retrofit wood chip tray.  There a numerous threads on the retro fit tray.

    Also here are some proven MES Tips that work,  they have been gathered from MES owner posts in this forum for the past 5 years.

    You can also DIY cut the extra piece of metal out so that the only thing between the heat element and the wood chips is the bottom of the wood chip tray, I am not recommending the extra holes.  The chips will then have adequate heat for proper combustion/smolder, and you will get good smoke.  However follow the Tips they tell you how much chips to add to avoid creosote.

    BTW, for some smokes at the very end say the last hour I have pulled out the water pan and turn the heat down to 200º, to try and get a drier texture to the meat surface.  Mostly though I throw ribs and brisket on the bbq grill to get that char.

    Note:,  there is NO right way or wrong way about this, there is only good results and bad results.  Personally I go for consistency,  to produce excellent tasting Q every time, so far for the past 5 years this has worked for me.


    smoke-on Dude!
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2012
  5. Atomic Dog,

    i use the water pan and would not use the smoker with out it !

    DeltaDude is right about the wood chips , one thing i dont do, is overload the wood in the smoker , the electric smoker is a lot different then any other smoker , it will not need as much wood to get the smoke flavor in the meat i will smoke a brisket in mine at 235 degrees but will only load the tray twice for a 10 to 12 hour smoke and that is all that is needed but i doont load the tray to full capacity the smoke stays in longer so the smoke has more time on the meat and dos'ent go right out the chimmy.

    It will take some time to get it right but when you do the meat is to DIE for !!!!
  6. This is why I like this forum.  I do not own an MES but the same reason applies to me with the WSM: there are experts here that are open to sharing their expertise, tips, and tricks.

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