New to electric, need input on smoker

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by jgruberman, Jun 11, 2016.

  1. jgruberman

    jgruberman Fire Starter

    Hey all, long time lurker here. I already smoke with an offset no problem but debating going electric because simply put... I don't want to be babying a smoker for 12 hours or more with a brisket for example. Now I've been reading a lot of stuff about the MES smokers and was considering getting this one:

    My actual questions are:

    How is a smoker like this one, in terms of which Gen this one is and if it's decent?

    Also, this is more of a "give me your opinion" type thing... but I'm torn between going to electric because it seems like it almost takes the "skill" out of smoking(don't want to offend anyone). But when I finish a few racks of ribs and say that I've been up since whatever time working on them and staying with the grill... it's almost a sense of pride. For electric, seems like I'll just set it and forget it(minus the wood) and take out some of the pride factor.

    Looking forward to any feedback - thanks!
  2. gregor

    gregor Smoke Blower

    I may get in trouble here, but I think as long as you are happy with the results and the amount of effort you shouldn't worry about what everyone else thinks.

    I'm admittedly a smoker noob and I like the idea of setting a temp and then being able to concentrate on other things while the smoker is going. Worth the bump in cost for me to get a digital controller to hold temp.

    I chose electric because I cook on a raised wooden deck - having charcoal or wood going on that worries me. With electric I only have a few ounces of combustible material going in a sealed box, and I can cut the power if needed.

    Don't get me wrong, I'd love s Big Green Egg or offset wood grill, but given I live in a townhouse, those don't really work for me.
    jgruberman likes this.
  3. jgruberman

    jgruberman Fire Starter

    I agree completely with the set it and forget it concept... on one hand, I'd love to reclaim my day and not have to keep adding charcoal in to stay at 225. However, then I lose the "slaving over a smoker" gratification. I'm not sure how I feel about that... it seems to take the "skill" out of it and I'm prideful that I've gotten my smoking skill to where it is. I'm just on the fence and need some opinions to help sway me either way.

    Also... using your electric one do you lose any of the smokiness to the meat?
  4. gregor

    gregor Smoke Blower

    I've only done a few smokes but none of them seem to lack smokiness. I have a Smokin-It 2D, use 4-6 oz of wood per smoke. I think with anything smoked you should be able to taste the meat first, with smoke as much of a compliment as the spices are.
  5. My wife told me today to sell my stick burner and get a MES 40 so im glad you started this thread. What are the recommendations on mods and or accessories?
  6. jlzr

    jlzr Newbie

    I used this model making my first batch of sausage. It is my dad's and he uses it to smoke salmon. We had trouble with the temperature maintenance. Apparently, there are problems with the heating element. Look at the reviews.
    Last edited: Jun 11, 2016
  7. jgruberman

    jgruberman Fire Starter

    So ASSUMING I get a quality electric unit, the quality of the meat as far as cook and smoke won't be impacted by going to an electric? 4-6oz of wood seems low considering I go through approximately a 5lb bag when I smoke ribs...
  8. gregor

    gregor Smoke Blower

    I have been very pleased with the limited amount of experience I have had - certainly my friends have been raving about the results :)

    One comment I got was "if things are this good now, I can't wait until you get more experience with it"

    There are a number of owners here who have tons of experience with electrics who could vouch much better than I can...
    jgruberman likes this.
  9. jgruberman

    jgruberman Fire Starter

    Now again, not to offend purists... but how exactly do you "get better" at setting a timer and temperature? That's what I'm trying to understand about how much additional "skill" can actually be gained using an electric.
  10. gregor

    gregor Smoke Blower

    I can take a couple of variables out of the cooking equation, letting me concentrate on rubs and sauces for example.
  11. jgruberman

    jgruberman Fire Starter

    That's a good point. If I can assume consistent cooking, then I can spend some other efforts on types of wood and rub recipes...
  12. barryvabeach

    barryvabeach Fire Starter

    jgruberman,  actually, the skill is not in setting the temperature and the time, it is in choosing both and dealing with all the variables.  Some foods cook well at 225,  others cook better at a higher temp,  some benefit more from a longer time - like St. Louis Style ribs,  some do better with a shorter time.   The next skill is learning your smoker - even if it is electric with a PID controller, there are temperature variations between the sensor and the overall temp in the smoker, plus there are hotter areas and cooler areas, and they can vary from smoker to smoker, even if they are the same model. You also have to choose how much wood and what type to generate smoke.  Finally, the food itself is a variable.  I have smoked store bought ribs a number of times with great results,  I smoked some ribs from a farmers's market just yesterday, a totally different rib, and the results were not all that good.  Most guides you will read say to cook the food for a certain time, but give a window - say 5 to 6 hours -  so you still have to determine when to pull it.  I have used a BGE knockoff, and got okay results, but find with an electric smoker, the results are much easier, and I don't have to mess with fuel issues.
  13. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    jgruberman - I would recommend looking at the smokers from Smokin-it, Cookshack, and SmokinTex.  Cookshack is made in the USA and the most expensive of the 3. The smokers from SI and ST are imported, and are of great build quality. and the SI line are also the least expensive; all three are fully stainless steel inside and out, and have high temperature fiberglass insulation.  Visit their sites and read up on the different models, their feature sets and pricing. Also compare warranties.  Personally I think SI provides the most smoker for the money, especially their Model 3. 

    As for smoke, I have included a link that explains it all. In an electric, a heating element is providing the cooking and the wood the smoke.  Thus very little wood is needed.  In your stick burner, wood must also provide the heat. 

    Good luck - Dave
  14. If you are set on an electric then as Sarge mentions the Cookshack or its clones are built to last. I have a Smokin-It #2. But lots and lots of folks put out good Q with their MESs. There is no problem getting smoke flavor from mine. In fact the opposite is the more likely if I use too much wood. I have made a lot of good Q with it and it is a good way to go for long overnight smokes. 

    However, it has basically been relegated to a sausage smoker these days. My smoking addiction has grown and I now own 4 smokers; a PBC, UDS and a Traeger pellet smoker. If you are looking for hands free smoking tool that is not electric (though it does use electricity!) a pellet grill is a good route to go. If you put a gun to my head and said I could only keep one smoker, that would be it. I put a PID controller on it to do staged cooking and it can do great overnight smokes for butts and briskets. When the brisket is done and I put it in a cooler for a 2 hour rest, with the touch of a button I am at 300* and putting on my chicken and thinking about that nice crispy skin. 

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