MES 30 & Sand

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by da maxx, Mar 11, 2012.

  1. da maxx

    da maxx Fire Starter

    I've read numerous postings from smoking beef to fish on this site. Also read discussions on wether or not to leave the vent open or not. I've used the smoker twice. Each use, the meat was tender and juicy. I only had issues with my rub\sauce. Either too salty or not enough. My next smoke will be chicken and a regular beef brisket. I've seen comments where folks put sand instead of water into the "water pan". I can see how this helps the heat regulation. Btw, the MES regulates heat very well, I don't understand how it helps the moisture level ? Do you put water into the sand ? What are the other tricks for the MES ?

    I also heard about placing a can on the vent opening. I think it's supposed to help the smoke draft. Is there a problem ? or only for cold smoking.

    Based on all the comments from this site, I'm going to purchase the AMNPS 5X8 for unit. It will give a cold smoke option as well as smoke for the longer cook times.

    What other add-ons should I consider ? I have the MES 30 w/800w element. So far love it.
  3. sprky

    sprky Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I don't use a MES 30 I run a Master Forge Gasser. The sand helps with temp recovery after opening the door and stabilizes the temps better. 

    If you use sand in the water pan you do not add water. Just put sand in the pan and cover with foil. I also add a small pan of water on a rack above the sand. I can't swear 100% the water adds any moisture to the meat. The general consensus is the water pan is for a heat sink not moisture. I haven't done a side by side comparison on the water, but I will say I have run my smoker without water and still had moist meat. 
  4. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The MES uses the water tray to regulate heat and act as a buffer between the heat elements and your food.  In addition the heated water releases moisture keeping your meat moist, and an added benefit is that moisture helps smoke penetration into the meat.  In fact you will find a lot of competition bbq pit masters now keeping a water tray in their big wood burning smokers.  This includes famous pit master Myron Mixon.

    One drawback is that the meat surface doesn't get as nice bark.  However if you want more of a bark, you could lower the temp slightly keep the meat un-foiled for the last hour or so, and take out the water pan.  Experimentation required to achieve the desired results.

    I mainly smoke ribs and pork butt, the results are great with the water pan.  However the bark is a bit soft on the pork butt, so I take out the water pan to get more of a drier bark, but I have only recently started experimenting, and not sure how much is good or bad.
  5. da maxx

    da maxx Fire Starter

    delta, thanks for the idea. I'm going to try chicken this weekend. If I don't get the crispy skin, I'm going to try and remove the pan. If it helps with the bark, it should also help with the skin. I would think keep water in until finishing for last 30- 1hr. However, I think you'd want to up the temperature for the finish. 
  6.  I have the MES40 and have used it with water and with sand. I get good moist meat either way. I tried the sand originally to see if the moisture of the water pan was causing me problems keeping my AMNPS lit and smoking well. If I was going to cook something that is easy to dry out I would likely use water. With butts it never seems to hurt them. With water in the pan it wants to condense on my window ( I love my window ) and make it harder to see through.

     I suppose it helps with recovery time to use sand, but with 1200W , My MES recovers very quickly anyway.

     Bottom line is try both and see how it works for you.

     As far as the can goes, it creates a small chimney to help air flow for the AMNPS. I am using a 3" vent elbow instead of the can. MES can use some air flow improvement for using the AMNPS. They are an awesome combination.

  7. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    My wife has never liked the chicken that comes out of the MES, she prefers if I cook whole chicken to do it in the Weber kettle, the skin is perfect, the meat super succulent, and the flavor amazing.  So I haven't done chicken in 5 years in the MES, the skin has difficulty getting crisp, the temp necessary for crisp skin is 325-350º.

    I saw an episode of triple D on Food Network, where chicken was first slow cooked and then deep fried.  I might try that, but I like to keep things simple.  Right now I can take a whole chicken cut it into pieces, skin the pieces, season it, and have it on the grill in about 10 minutes, and have it on the table in another 15-20 minutes.  So thats what I usually do.
    Last edited: Mar 14, 2012
  8. handsonfire

    handsonfire Fire Starter

    I tend to load my water pan with a fruit juice or other liquid such as apple, cranberry, pineapple, etc. It seems to not only keep the meat moist, but add a slightly sweet or tart flavor. I even tried ('cause it was the only thing in the fridge): Hawaiian tropic punch when smokin a ham. The grand kids were not happy about that, nor did it do much for the ham. Apple juice is my go to
  9. Experiment and see what works the best for you. I use water/juice when doing butts, ribs and such. I did smoke some leg qtrs and although the skin wasn't as crispy as if you do it on the grill, it still came out quite nice. I smoked them one day and then the next brushed with bbq sauce and popped into the oven for a quick dinner. I also have my water pan covered with heavy duty aluminum foil, whether it's empty or with liquid in it, makes for easier clean up.
  10. Yes.  You're not going to have any luck getting crispy skin, water pan or not, at typical smoking temperature.  Before getting the MES I was accustomed to beer butt chicken on the propane grill with perfect skin, but without that smokey flavor I have grown to love.  I'm still experimenting, but last time I pulled the chicken out of the MES at about 155 internal temp and finished it on the grill at high heat.  This gets me the smokey flavor I'm going for, but the skin isn't quite where I want it.  I think I might pull it at 150 next time to finish on the grill. 
  11. da maxx

    da maxx Fire Starter

    I'm a newbie to smoking with the MES 30. However, I have to lean towards keeping water\juice\beer in the pan. Moist is moist. As far the chicken, I'll plan on finishing in the oven for a crispier skin.

    Just placed my order for the AMNPS. Anxiously waiting.
  12. daveomak

    daveomak Smoking Guru OTBS Member SMF Premier Member

    MAXX, morning....  You mentioned salt and seasonings not being consistent doing different smokes....  Someone on here led me to using a scale and weighing my salt and spices before applying them to the meat...  I find it works well.....  Depending on the meat, I use 8-12 grams salt / pound.... other seasonings vary....  each smoke, the salt and spices are measured for the hunk of meat ....  this maintains consistency......   When you develope a rub you like.... make a big batch then measure the amount of rub according to the weight of meat you are smoking....  

    Sounds like a pain in the butt huh....  it is.... but it is consistent....   Dave 
  13. da maxx

    da maxx Fire Starter

    DOmak, I'll keep that in mind. I've only smoked twice on my MES30. The first time, the ribs were too salty. I made a homemade rub but didn't measure a thing (wrong). I managed to overcome the salt by washing the rub off then and finishing wrapped in foiled with sweet juice. My second time, I smoked a corned beef brisket. I was fearful of the brine. I think I overdid the water bath. I had soaked it in cold water for 24hrs, changing every 3 hrs. Next time I'll try the Fry Test. If it's not too salty I'll just season then smoke. Both cook sessions were still good. Meat was tender with smoke flavor. So all was good. No leftovers. This weekend going to try chicken. I have a special "islander" marinade in mind. Plan on smoking at 275 til it reaches 165. My AMNPS is supposed to arrive by then.
  14. deltadude

    deltadude Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I know a lot of folks add juice, beer, stuff to flavor the water in the water tray, however I read somewhere (a research kind of info), that typically adding anything to the water really didn't add much to flavor enhancement of the meat, if any enhancement at all.

    On the flip side there are some good reasons to add stuff to flavor the water, i.e, an onion, or other spices, even sweet stuff.  This applies when you want to make the water with all those juicy fat drippings into some kind of sauce.
  15. sound1

    sound1 Smoking Fanatic

    Moonshine to distilled water...what "steam" that comes off the pan will depend on how hot you get it, the alcohols will boil off first (without any flavor).... then, as the temp ramps up, your water vapor (distilled = no flavor) and then to the impurities (your Flavors), I have not seen much flavor transfer between different liquids...although I do like to catch the shine in the old mason jar!!

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