Newbie smoker, seeking advice

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by redstorm423, Apr 16, 2017.

  1. Hey everyone, I'm new to the meat smoking scene so go easy on me. Friends got me a Charbroil Deluxe Digital Electric Smoker for my 30th about a year ago. Unfortunately it's been sitting in the garage for almost a year before I was able to finally use it.

    First smoke was some back ribs from Costco about a week and half ago. Tried the 2-2-1 method and it worked ok, I guess. The larger ribs in each rack were undercooked. However, the smaller ones were perfect for how me and the wife like em, FOTB.

    Wondering if this could have been due to the fact that I opened the smoker door half way through the first 2 hour phase (wanted to check the wood chips as I thought I hadn't put enough in). I think after I opened, and then closed the door, the smoker defaulted back to a "keep warm" status instead of coming back up to the temp I had set (230ish) even though there was still time left on the timer.
    Haven't been able to find any info on that in the manual or online, maybe someone here that has some experience with the same smoker and can offer some clarity.
    If I am wrong, next time should I just simply cut the larger ribs off each rack and smoke them separately since they would need to go longer?

    Also, whats everyone favorite brand of smoker chips?

    Thanks ahead of time for any advice or info :)
  2. chef jimmyj

    chef jimmyj Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator Group Lead OTBS Member

    I can't comment on the smoker other than, there is no good reason for a smoker to reset itself to Warm Everytime you open the door. That would be a PITA for guys that mop.
    If you want more FOTB, increase the time in foil and take the time from the last hour...JJ
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
  3. smokinal

    smokinal Smoking Guru Staff Member Moderator OTBS Member ★ Lifetime Premier ★

  4. lancer

    lancer Smoking Fanatic

    Geez!  I don't know why I'm paying any attention to a St. John's fan but if it helps any I use a vertical rib rack, cut the racks in half and put the thicker ends on the outside with the thinner ones in the middle of the rack. 

    We prefer a bit of chew so I can't advise you on timing or temps using foil but you've gotten advice already from two real pros....

    Go Orange!

  5. old sarge

    old sarge Master of the Pit ★ Lifetime Premier ★

    I would call customer service.  Having it go to keep warm just because you open the door is just plain counter productive!
  6. Hahaha, ya my fathered played for them when I was little and when aol first came out, so that's how that happened....thanks for the reply
    Last edited: Apr 16, 2017
  7. Great, I will definitely take a look! Thanks

    When I get a chance to sometime this week I'm going to perform a little test to see if that is what's happening, if so then I'll have to do that.

    Any recommendations for thermometer types or brands that I could keep inside the smoker while cooking to check in on the smoker temp every now and again?
  8. amlong88

    amlong88 Meat Mopper

    ThermoWorks smoke is a good one. Maverick et732 and 733 seem to be good as well. All of those have a meat and smoking chamber probe and are remote.
  9. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    I know nothing about your smoker. With my Masterbuilt, and maybe with other brands as well, temp recovery should be pretty quick after you close the door. I've timed it while looking at the therm I use, which is the Maverick ET-733. You usually never go by the time cooked or by the therm that comes with just about any smoker (of course I have no experience with the expensive primo ones) but for baby backs (and yes, Costco's the place to buy those and STL ribs as well) I do go by time because the meat's too thin to stick a probe into without hitting bone. I just talked about heat variations within a smoker in another thread. There are hot spots, cooler spots, and some hot and cooler spots may change places during a smoke. What you could've done after you pulled the ribs that were done is to foil them and/or place them in a cooler to keep warm and left the larger rack of ribs in the smoker to cook to temp. There are two ways to determine if ribs are done. One is the bend test: hold the rack of ribs with a pair of tongs on one end and shake them slightly. If the meat bows slightly and a crack appears between a couple of ribs then they're done (if the bark also looks good). You also look at the amount of shrinkage of the meat away from the ends of the bones. There are other tests as well. This year I'm not foiling or wrapping pork ribs.With beef brisket, I plan to smoke one unwrapped and wrap another one in butcher paper and compare the results. 

    I agree that you need to check out with customer service what's going on with the "keep warm" status. And I bet when you checked the wood chips after two hours they had burned to ash. Wood chips need to be replaced every 20-30 minutes. That's why I prefer to use wood pellets in a tray or tube. You can get up to 11 hours of smoke with a product like the A-MAZE-N Pellet Smoker or some other pellet smoking device. I buy both wood pellets and wood Dust from Todd Johnson, owner of A-MAZE-N Products. I've been purchasing stuff from him for almost five years. He and his wife provide incredible customer service. A-MAZE-N is hugely popular here on SMF. 

    Did you look for your smoker manual here?  You'll need to find your model number for the search. And the best thing about being a smoker newbie is that you don't stay a newbie for very long. SMF is invaluable for getting great info and tips but the more you smoke, the more you learn. The more often you smoke, the quicker you learn. 
    Last edited: Apr 17, 2017
  10. Yup, I did a couple of things wrong with my first time haha....but I'll adapt and there are definitely some changes I need to make and new things to try....I think I'm going to pull the trigger on buying a separate thermometer like everyone has more or less suggested, since from what I hear the one that comes with my smoker isn't all that great

    I'll have to give them a call today and see what they say, but honestly I think it was human error that caused them to come out undercooked. Live and learn

    You were correct that the chips were pretty much done within the first 2 hours. However, I have read many reviews on my smoker and everyone seems to say the smoker boxes holds chips well and can be left alone for 4-6 hours, some say every longer(so does the manual).
    So maybe it's the brand I am using? Or I simply didn't put enough in to begin with? Which is why I ended up opening the door to check in the first place. But I always thought that pellets burned the quickest and were mainly for shorter smokes
  11. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    When I first bought my MES 30, I used wood chips. I'd take a few handfuls, drop them into the side wood chip loader, then push the loader in and dump the chips on the wood chip holder. Whew! After all that work they were literally toast and ash in 20-30 minutes. I haven't seen any wood chips that will last two hours.They're too thin and that's why they call them chips. Chunks are thicker and would last longer. That's why I don't use wood chips except for dropping onto charcoal briquettes in my Weber kettle grill. 

    I know that there are wood pellets that are mainly non-wood filler and I would think that there are varying qualities of wood chips, but when I was buying them I'd buy whatever the grocery store had on the shelf. When it comes to pellets and Dust I am highly particular. 

    As for human error in undercooking that one rack of ribs, you said it yourself: that rack was bigger than the other one so it probably needed another 20-30 minutes in the smoker. You learn from your mistakes. I try to learn something new each time I smoke so I'm always trying new techniques and experiments. I've smoked one glorious beef brisket flat and I've spent a year or so trying to replicate it. I'll get it again this year. That's my goal. 

    No inexpensive smoker (and I would say grill) comes with a reliable thern. That's why we all advise to buy one designed for smoking. The Mavericks are very accurate and popular. ThermoWorks may be more accurate but they're a lot more pricy. That being said, when my Mavericks bite the dust someday I'll buy a ThermoWorks. There are knockoff cheaper brands that a lot of guys like too.  A lot of guys like the iGRill bluetooth that can also transmit cooking data to your smartphone. There are guys who keep records of every smoke for reference, I'm too lazy for that. I keep a loose record in my mind of what I've done with different cuts of meat and with different cheeses. The only thing I have to read up on is Bearcarver's procedure on how to stabilize the temp swiings in a MES. The steps may also apply to your smoker., 
  12. brained121

    brained121 Smoke Blower

  13. Ya I plan on getting a thermometer, just not sure which one I'm gunna go with yet.
    As far as the pellets go, I'll probably buy one bag and see how I like it. But also still going to try the chips and different techniques with them to see if it makes a difference. I'm sure I'll find something I like, just have to find the time when I'm not working to actually do some more smoking so I can figure it all out
  14. Oh ya, I already plan on giving his process a try. Awesome info on this site, so glad I came across it
  15. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    That's also what I did for awhile. I found that wood chips typically overwhelmed food with smoke, giving it a harsh and bitter flavor. Smoke from wood pellets seems to enhance food, but there are times when the smoke is too subtle. There's a lot of art besides technique to good home smoking. 

Share This Page