noob trying to grasp all this!

Discussion in 'Electric Smokers' started by dogwalker, Nov 11, 2015.

  1. Dog walker, Looks like you made a good choice. For your first smoke I would recommend that you smoke something like a Pork Tenderloin. It is easy and only takes less than 2 hours.

    You will have a learning curve but you will be able to eat. Definitely check out Bears step by step  page. all good stuff there. Everything from fast and easy to good long smokes..    Jted
  2. Ok, we're going a little crazy here.  My wife's loving this as much as I am.  We've now put in a spatchcocked chicken (first time for both of us), one salmon filet, pork loin, and beef loin!

    Any advice on temperatures and times?  I'm monitoring the chicken and salmon, since I figure they'll finish first.

    Oh, and I'm getting a huge discrepancy in temperatures between the MES reading and my new ChefAlarm reading.  I don't know if the ChefAlarm needed calibrating, but it's positioned on the second self from the top, about 1/4 of the way in from the right, pointing in.  It reads about forty degrees (!) less than the MES.  How do I know which is right?

    The CA meat probe and the MES meat probe were close, the MES was about 3 degrees higher.


    [edit, just remember about Bear's Step by Step tips, rushing to read that in case I need to smoke the salmon separately]

    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  3. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    The major problem I see with this recipe is that it doesn't tell you the max weight of the turkey to smoke. You've got to be extremely careful with turkey in a smoker because of the relatively low heat and the amount of time it takes to cook one. You risk food poisoning with placing an 18-22 lb. turkey inside the MES 40--if it fits--because you'll never get the internal temp above 140° within 4 hours. What I would suggest is cooking two turkeys--a 12-15 pounder (could even just be a boneless turkey breast) in the smoker and roasting the main turkey in the kitchen oven. I smoked what was a 12-15 lb. turkey breast in my MES 30 earlier this year. I used hickory and apple wood pellets and it turned out phenomenally well. Forget what I used for a dry rub.

    Bear's your man with the Step By Steps for smoking just about anything in an MES. I think he has one for turkey. But in any case, if you keep the bird weight down to no more than around 15 lbs. Just happened to find a how-to video. Good luck!

    Oh, and the ribs? You will find that once you get it down, you'll cook the best ribs of your life in your MES. I've grilled ribs over charcoal and smoked them in my MES 30. The smoked ribs win hands down every time.
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  4. Thanks!  I like the idea of two smaller birds.

    I decided not to cook the salmon with the meats because Bear's recipe says to smoke the salmon at a much lower temperature.

    The chicken came out very good.  I did something recommended on another post somewhere.  I took it out of the smoker at 145 and put it in an over set at 375, to crisp the skin.  Unfortunately, we had a lot going on, and I wasn't able to get back to check the IT until later than I'd planned, and it hit 170.  I had wanted to take it out of the oven at 160.  Even so, it's still tender and has an excellent, excellent taste!  Lesson learned - be very careful with the oven.

    On the beef roast and pork loin, I'm embarrassed to say that in our excitement to just do this, we didn't marinate them, just rubbed some dry rub on them.  The beef tastes good, but I think I may have cooked it a little long, because it's not nearly as pink as I wanted.  Still, great taste.  Pork will be next.

    I do have one big concern with this unit, and tomorrow I'm going to check out both units - I haven't returned the one that had wobbly racks yet.  The ambient temperate is vastly different than what I read from my chef alarm.  Depending on whether I've set the MES at 225 or 275, the ChefAlarm temperature reads 40 to 50 degrees (!) less.

    Tomorrow, I'm going to use the ice cube/water test to check all thermometers, and then I'll test both units, placing the ChefAlarm in various spots.  I'll also try adding the little deflector that I've seen here, where I'll wrap cardboard in aluminum foil and lay it down and see if that helps.

    I do have one complaint with the 
  5. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    A couple things:

    You should know that the smoking schedule that is on my Smoked Salmon Step by Step is for hard smoked snacking Salmon that you can pick up between two fingers & beak into bite sized pieces while you're eating it.

    If you want to eat Salmon for Dinner, you'll have to use a higher temp for a shorter time, like maybe 220° smoker temp until the IT gets to 160°, because you'll probably want a nice soft & flaky type of flesh.

    As for the temps with various units, I would trust your "ChefAlarm", like we trust our "Mavericks", and not what the MES says, but you have to do the boiling test to check the ChefAlarm. It's probably right.

    I always go by what my Maverick says, and figure out the difference, so I know where to set my MES to get the Maverick to read what I want the Smoker Temp to be.

    And if your right side is a lot hotter than the left, the Deflector I show at a few places takes care of that. If you can't find it or don't understand it, let me know. There isn't much to it & it works good.

    Hope these things help some,

  6. Thanks, Bear, great to know!  I'll cook the salmon now then.

    The beef came out very juicy but a little tough, but (1) we didn't marinate it at all, and (2) my wife bought it on the spur of the moment, so we're not really sure how good a cut it was.  Everyone *loves* the chicken!

    The pork is baffling me right now.  I got the IT up to around 140 and then lowered the MES to 100, as I saw on one of the recipes.  Well, the IT of the pork plummeted and wouldn't come back up, so I've now turned the MES back up to 225, and the IT is slowly climbing.

    As for the temperature, that would be a big concern for me, then, because when the MES reads 275, the ChefAlarm reads about 50 degrees or so less.  That means I'm limited to only 225 max temperature.  I'm not too worried yet, because (1) I'll test all thermometers tomorrow, (2) I'll add that deflector, and (3) worse case, maybe the other unit (the one that has wobbly racks) would be better.

    I don't care about the racks nearly as much as having a good temperature.

    My first impressions, other than the temperature problem, are very high.  I really like this smoker!  I'll bet I'll like it even better when I get the AMNPS.  :)

    Thanks again!
  7. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    If you saw that turning it down to 100° on one of my Step by Steps, the only time I do that is when I get my IT to where I want it, like a 138° Prime Rib, I turn my Smoker down to 100° to hold it until we're ready to eat, instead of having to foil it & pack it in a cooler with towels. I think I'm the only one who does that.

  8. Oh!  You know, someday I'll learn to read everything instead of rushing through.  You probably said that above the steps.  That's great to know and makes sense!

    Also, wife and I looked at the beef roast and realized it was extremely lean, which may be one reason it came out a little tough.  Great taste and very juicy, just a little tougher than I'd like.

    Post-smoking update, salmon, pork, and chicken all turned out great!  And I didn't use any water in the water pan.  All are moist, tender, and taste great.  The beef roast is a little tough, but the taste and juiciness are great.  All in all, great first attempt - thanks, all!
    Last edited: Nov 14, 2015
  9. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    That's great !!!

    Some of those Beef cuts I just take it to Med-Rare, and slice it real thin (see my Rare Roast Beef Step by Step), or cure it & make Dried Beef out of it.

    When you get around to it & have complete control of your Smoker Temps, you have to do a small Prime Rib. Keep an eye out for sales, especially near Holidays like Christmas Week. Then use one of my Prime Rib Step by Steps. Prime Rib is one of the easiest things to smoke, with the Greatest Reward !!!

    I've been buying my year's supply of Prime Rib (5 to 6 pounders) every Christmas Week for the last 6 years.

    dogwalker likes this.
  10. dr k

    dr k Master of the Pit

    I think you'll like the deflector in the right rear corner on it's own rack and the water pan on the second from the bottom rack to keep the heat from going straight up the corner past the Mes sensor to the vent. The Mes temp display will be close to the actual calibrated therms. The foiled cardboard there keeps the chip housing cleaner from drips and from vaporizing drips. I just put the rack in backwards so the beveled edge is at the door so the foiled cardboard sits flat in the corner.
    dogwalker likes this.
  11. You guys are awesome!  Dr K, I experimented with some heavy duty aluminum foil, folding it different sizes and moving it around.  I'm currently testing, and so far it looks great!  I first had a piece that was too large, and the actual temps were overshooting the MES sensor temps by quite a bit, so I kept folding it back.  I've found that when I open the door, the ChefAlarm temperature plummets, while the MES temp doesn't fall off quite as much.  But then I let them stabilize, and then they're within a few degrees of each other.  I'm checking different spots now.  I don't know if I'll get all spots to be the same temperature (although I thought that's how heat works, it becomes uniform?), but they are so close, I'm fine.

    What a fantastic solution!  Still need to test more, but I'll let you know - thanks again, all!!

    And Bear, I agree about the beef.  If she buys round, I'll cook it medium rare.  She's already wanting to get a brisket, sweet!

    The spatchcocked chicken came out wonderful, although the skin wasn't crispy, but I'm the only one in the house who eats the skin anyway.  It was a huge hit!

    We plan on buying a 12-15 pound turkey, and I'll be on call to smoke it.  Any idea how long that'll take?  I think I'll spatchcock it again, since that makes it more uniform.

  12. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member


    You'll find that your Digital "Chefalarm", like a Maverick & other Therms is more sensitive than the MES sensor, and will go down faster when you open the door, and will also go up faster when you close the door again.

    That's the reason why the actual temp in the smoker overshoots the MES read-out-----The MES sensor is slow, and the MES won't stop heating until the MES gets to the set temp.

    That's easily remedied with my method:


    Last edited: Nov 15, 2015
    dogwalker likes this.
  13. Thanks, Bear!  That looks awesome, and makes sense!  Excellent!

    Thank you and others for so willing sharing with noobs like me.  Without you guys, I wouldn't have known which smokers to consider, and wouldn't have known about the deal at Academy.  And your "Step by Step" posts look amazing.  And you guys told me about the deflector.

  14. Well, shoot, I wish I'd come here sooner.  I see you all talking about the Maverick, and I just looked it up.  That looks like a much better deal than what I bought from Thermoworks.  Which unit do you guys recommend?  I would think the ET-733?
  15. Dogwalker, I own a lot of thermometers. I started with the cheap units with silicone covered wires. They did not hold up. I moved on to the THERMOWORKS brand with S/S covered wires They are great I have added the 733 to the group. They all have there place. Sometimes my smoker has 3 or 4 or even 5  probes coming out of it. It is nice to remove different pieces of meat at the right IT temps. Sometimes on a large chunk of meat I will double probe it. The 733 is convenient. I can monitor what is going on from inside. This winter it will be nice during overnight smokes. The Thermoworks probes were very accurate right out of the package as well as the 733. Don't worry you did not waste your money.   Jted
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  16. bearcarver

    bearcarver Smoking Guru OTBS Member

    I personally prefer the ET-732, but that's because I don't have to set anything---All I do is turn them on & off we go. I'm a slow learner when it comes to electronic gadgets.

    However they both work Great.

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  17. mummel

    mummel Master of the Pit

    733 is cake once you read the manual and get used to it.
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  18. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    You spatchcocked a chicken???!!! I also did for the first time last summer for a grilling recipe. It was really easy to do and the chicken turned out really well.

    Remember that in a MES 40 the right side will always run hotter than the left side.
  19. daricksta

    daricksta Master of the Pit OTBS Member

    Yeah, a lot of guys have already weighed in but I want to tip the scales a little myself. Remember that the USDA food safety guideline is that poultry is to be cooked to an internal temp of 165°. ?As you found out at 170° meat is still moist, tender and delicious. I wouldn't take a chance at serving chicken cooked to 160° unless the carryover took it up to 165°. But you were right to finish up the skin crisping in the oven.

    I never marinate a beef roast. Never. Have never seen a recipe calling for marinating one. Applying a dry rub should be more than enough unless you also wanted to try injecting a marinating liquid into it.  Now, last week I marinated a pork tenderloin roast which turned out superbly well but that was a cast iron skillet recipe. I haven't smoked a pork loin yet but have cooked quite a few in the kitchen oven. A pork loin would take very well to marinating as well as injections. 

    Something could be wrong with the MES and from the little I read of other posts looks like Dr. K and Bear got you covered with solutions. If it were me, I'd have exchanged the MES 40 for another one a week ago. I'll scroll down to see if you posted the results of the ChefAlarm calibration.
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015
  20. Yeah, the chicken turned out fantastic!  I didn't know that about the MES, thanks.  The little deflector I added seems to help the temps tremendously, but I need to run some more test.

    I'm on tap to cook the turkey for Thanksgiving, and after the chicken success, my wife is saying I should do the same thing:

    - I applied a dry brine (kosher salt and rosemary) for almost two days

    - removed that sucker's backbone

    - smoked it!
    Last edited: Nov 16, 2015

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