Learning to smoke at 6000ft

Discussion in 'Roll Call' started by bocephas, Jun 21, 2014.

  1. Greetings from Cedar City, UT

    I'm a psychologist here, working in the counseling center on campus at Southern Utah University.  I live just a couple hours north of Las Vegas and just a short drive from a bunch of national parks.  I am a computer nerd, shadetree mechanic, and a mental health professional.  However, I have felt for a long time that something was missing in my skill repertoire.  My brother got into smoking a few years ago with a chargriller pro with the charcoal sidebox, tons of effort and tons of deliciousness.  My wife and I recently added a new mouth to feed as of the end of March, so I decided that now that I'm a father, Dads should learn to smoke stuff! 

    I just got my hands on an MES 40 (512 model number) for $125. I know there were lots of problems with these, but for that price I figured what the hell.  I really am hoping that, over time, I'll be able to smoke decent stuff without having to babysit the smoker all day.  In pursuit of that (perhaps naive) goal, I also bought an AMNPS.  I've got my setup under an awning and pretty well protected from the wind.  With a little luck, lots of patience, and plenty of guidance from this forum, I hope to be smoking tasty treats year round.  

    I have already done one smoke, but could only come home to start it during my lunch hour and returned 3 hours later.  compared to my super cheap meat thermometer in the kitchen, my meat probe in the MES40 is running 35 degrees hot.  I took about a 3lb pork sirloin roast from costco up to about 165 internal temp (about 6 hrs total at 225 machine setting), but had very little actual smoke because the AMNPS went out (burned maybe a quarter inch of pellets).  I had the chip loader out, but left the chip tray in.  The pork tasted quite good and even had a small smoke ring, but no real bark to speak of (which gives me a sad, because I love the bark).  My hope is to be able to create some wonderfully black bark on things, but perhaps this is unrealistic with an electric smoker.  

    I am now running a test (empty) run, didn't even turn on the unit but lit the amnps and removed both chip tray and loader.  I've found that it does continue to smolder, but only on the bottom of the row and it is giving off very little smoke.  I lit it with a blowtorch and got a good cherry going, but after the first little bit the smoke is very thin.  Maybe with an electric, I'll just have to commit to lighting both ends of the AMNPS to get sufficient smoke.

    I haven't done any "mods" to the unit, like adding a vent pipe, as it is protected from the wind well.  However, I'm wondering if I shouldn't create an exhaust chimney of sorts, using the 3" vent pipe from home depot as suggested elsewhere on here, just to try and create more of a draft.  Any suggestions would be welcome, I continue to search for good info on mods and at some point soon I'm sure I'll find the penultimate guide.  

    I did just order a digital thermometer from amazon so I don't have to calculate or anything.

    Hopes and dreams regarding smoking:

    1)  brisket with nice burnt ends

    2) smoked trout after a glorious and triumphant day of ice fishing

    3) smoked cheese and bacon

    4) pork so good the tears just flow from joy

    Questions as I get started:

    will the AMNPS give off more smoke if the smoker is warm?  I have hopes to do some cold smokes eventually.  

    Is it realistic to hope for nice blackened meats from an electric smoker?

    How young is too young to start feeding a child smoked meat and bbq sauce?

    Anyhow, I'm super excited to be joining y'all and looking forward to my adventures.  Any suggestions or tips would be welcome, I know my primary steps to pursue next is to buy more beer and just see what happens as I learn how to tinker.  

    Thanks for all the great Qview, recipes, and suggestions I've already gathered, and May the Force be with you.
  2. Hello and Welcome to our addiction.  Many good folk here with a load of experience that they are more than willing to share.  If you have specific questions just start a thread and someone with experience will be along soon to offer advice.  All info you can provide us with such as smoker type, location and so on will help us answer any questions you may have, and pictures help a bunch.  Spend some time doing some research on the forums, tons of advice and recipes already available there.  Check out Jeff’s 5 day smoking E-Course ( link below ) that will help you get started.  We look forward to your contributions.  Have fun.  Good luck.  Keep Smokin!



  3. Good morning and welcome, you will get there, the more you smoke the better and easier it gets, and gives you time to figure out and get to know your smoker.

    Gary S

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