MES40 - first smoke in progress. Couple questions

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by duke dawg, Jun 6, 2015.

  1. duke dawg

    duke dawg Newbie

    ok, so seasoned my MES40 last night and have my first smoke going.

    pork butts.

    couple questions:

    1) Temp keeps saying 235-240 even though I set it at 225. Should I adjust something to lower it?

    2) when I add chips, I only see smoke for the first 5-10 minutes, then nothing comes out of the vent on top. I have it completely open. Is this normal? Do I need to adjust anything?

    I'm about an hour and a half into the smoke.

    thanks for any help

  2. Don't worry about the temp.  I do my Butts at 250F sometimes and 225F others.  Depends on my mood.  Hell you could do a butt at 300F if you wanted.  Internal Temp is the right indicator to use.  Also you are using an electric.  Temp will fluctuate just like in an oven.  Don't worry about it.  Hell don't even pay attention to it at all......focus on Internal Temp of the meat.  Looking for 202-205F to pull.

    As for the smoke?  MES is notorious for not producing constant smoke.  Try closing the vent half way and leaving the chip loader pulled out a little to produce some airflow.  Don't overload the chips either or you will get nasty white smoke. 

    More info will help all of us too

  3. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I disagree over what the MES is notorious about. I've got an MES 30 Gen 1 and even when I was using wood chips I got plenty of smoke--and had the oversmoked ribs and briskets to prove it. The thing is, wood chips don't smoke for that long and I found myself replenishing them every 20-30 minutes when I'd no longer see smoke coming out of the wide open vent. Also, you may not be loading enough wood chips at one time. The tricky part with wood chips is in not loading too many or too few.

    This is why I stopped using wood chips and switched to wood pellets about 3 years ago. A lot of us here use the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker. However, for newbies my advice is to smoke a few times using wood chips before changing to another source of smoke. You at least want to learn the basics of your smoker the way it was designed to be used. After that you could think about wood pellets.

    A legitimate thing the MES is notorious for is temp swings and inaccurate controller temp displays. By the very nature of the controller at many points the temp may be higher or lower than the set point or right on it. I really don't bother with checking the display screen that much. I use a Maverick ET-733 to monitor both smoker and food temps. I'll look at the controller display just to see if it matches the ET-733 or how far off it is.
    Last edited: Jun 6, 2015
  4. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    What I do is wrap a hand full of chips in foil and poke several holes in it to control the burn when I'm using my electric smoker. For butts, maybe 3 total hands full consecutively as the chips burn out will suffice, to avoid over-smoking. As for seeing smoke, I generally use a stick burner, (using wood only for fuel), and unless I'm adding a split or two, the smoke from the stack is virtually invisible, so just because you aren't seeing smoke doesn't mean it isn't smoking. Do a smell test. If it burns your nostrils, it's smoking.
  5. The temp on all electric smokers will fluctuate as the heating element cycles on and off. Nothing to worry about there.
    As daRicksta said, chips need to be reloaded every 20-30 minutes, that's why we use an AMNPS.
    NEVER close your vent, keep it wide open no matter what.
  6. duke dawg

    duke dawg Newbie

    ok, so finally getting back to this.

    thanks for the replies everyone.

    results after first smoke were average to below average.

    Butts came out inconsistent. A few areas were great but most of it appeared dry and didn't pull very well. Had good smoke flavor to it, but meat was not where I would have liked it.

    possible areas I went wrong:

    1) did two 8 lb butts instead of one. on 2nd and 3rd racks. Maybe heat couldn't consistently get to each butt?

    2) started at 530 in the morning and at 630 in the evening needed to take out of smoker to feed hungry family. Temp was about 188 on internal thermo. Did it need more time? or was temp wrong and I overcooked?


    1) In at 530 at 225

    2) used water pan 

    3) apple wood chips. replaced every 30 minutes or so. Got good thin white smoke (not blue - but not a huge pillow of smoke. was definitely thin)

    4) smoked until 3:30 with temp about 155. Pulled and wrapped in foil with little bit of apple juice.

    5) Only opened door 4-5 times. Seemed to be good moisture in smoker with no heat loss

    6) vent wide open entire time until stopped smoking. then i closed and upped temp to 245-250. was only way for temp of butts to rise

    thoughts anyone?
    Last edited: Jun 8, 2015
  7. grillmonkey

    grillmonkey Smoking Fanatic

    OK. You're good on smoke since you've said it had a good smoke flavor. A temp of 188 degrees is done, but at that temp the connective tissue hasn't broken down yet. It would have been best to slice it or chip it and sauce it, but you needed to take it to about 205 degrees for pulling. At 205 the connective tissue is melted and the meat will be falling off the bone and juicy. 
  8. jp61

    jp61 Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

     What he said...... [​IMG]  
  9. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You should have gone for an internal temp of 195-203° before taking the butts out of the shoulder. 188° is way too early so in my opinion the butts were undercooked not overcooked. With 16 lbs. total of pork meat, 13 hours at 225° for most of the cook wasn't long enough. You should have started out at 250°. And to me, 8 pounds would have been enough to feed a lot of people so perhaps stick with one pork butt at a time in your MES 40.
  10. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    [​IMG] Thanks, JP61! Once you've learned how to deal with the eccentricities of the MES (again, MES 30 Gen 1, in my case) it's typically a great smoker for the money. I really like mine.
  11. bmaddox

    bmaddox Master of the Pit

    As stated above, you undercooked it. Yes it was technically "done" and safe to eat but the fat and tissue had not broken down which is why it was dry and didn't pull. It is counter-intuitive to think that something would get more moist as you cooked it further but it really does work. 

    I don't use my water pan in my MES. It creates a steam chamber that is not necessary at all. 
    daricksta likes this.
  12. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    [​IMG]What bmaddox said...

    The the water pan filled with water is just too large for the interior of the MES 30 or MES 40 which is why it creates a steam chamber. The MES smokers are all well-insulate which keeps moisture in during smoking so the water pan is not needed. The only way to dry out meat in that smoker is to way overcook it.

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