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Electric smoker help

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this is the fist time i am ever using a electric smoker and i was looking for some help. i am doing a pork shoulder this weekend. first what temp should i smoke at i have hear that you don't receive much smoke at 225 degrees. second what wood should i smoke with. and lastly how long per pound.

 
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  1. Typical smoking temperatures range from 200F to 250F. I generally shoot for 225F.

    In regards to the amount of smoke, you don't need a lot of smoke. In fact, you really shouldn't see any smoke coming from the flue, maybe a very faint stream. If you're sending up smoke signals, you have too much smoke.

    For the type of wood, hickory is my preference. If you can smell the hickory (or wood of choice) coming from the flue and don't see a billowing cloud, you know you have enough smoke.

    1. I have the same smoker, but in the 40 inch model. You will need to actually set the temperature higher than you do with charcoal. 240 is about right, and the thermostat will keep it steady. At 225, you may not get enough smoke. These electrics run colder than charcoal smokers, even in the hot Texas summer, as I found out.

      As per the Masterbuilt customer service line, use DRY wood, and don't crowd the wood chip burner. Be prepared to replenish chips every 60 to 90 minutes if you want to taste smokey flavoring. Since you don't know your smoker yet, you should actually open up the front door and check to see how your wood chips are burning for the first hour or two. Yes, they say you will lose heat and it can flare up, but after an hour, no flares are likely, and you will only keep the door open long enough to check the drawer with an oven mitt (it is hot). Don't worry, the slightly higher temp will help you when you open the door for a few minutes.

      Masterbuilt actually had a free retrofit that they sent me that enlarges the wood chip box. You should call and ask about it. More wood is more convenient and it gets more oxygen around the wood. You should be burning through wood chips every 60 to 90 minutes for the first four hours. After that, lower the temp and wrap the meat in foil until it reaches 175 to 180 degrees. Wrapping keeps it moist and uses the smoker more like an oven, but that is the trick. The meat temp tends to stick at 155 to 160 for a long time (the dreaded "plateau"), but you need to get to a higher temp to have tender meat. Four hours of intense smoke (maybe filling the chips three times) is usually enough smoke, but you can keep going without foil if you discover you want more. End with a wrapped roast at all times. It helps keep the meat juicy. I don't like my food tasting like an ashtray, so we generally stop at three to four hours of smoke.

      I use water in my pan, but you can try apple juice. I recently used Stubb's chips, which are a hickory blend, and I have used hickory and cherry wood very successfully. Just keep looking right into the woodbox to gauge how the wood is burning until you get to know your smoker's nuances.

      Masterbuilt also told me to set the temp at 240 -250 when I complained about wood chips not burning completely, so it is not only me with this advice. I actually got it from them.

      Also, keep the vents open. Smoke is actually more intense if it flows easily through the smoker.

      Hope this helps.

      2 Replies
      1. re: RGC1982

        I have never heard wrap it in foil i have seen people baste the pork every hour on the hour. and also how long per pound should i cook it for

        1. re: wildcat2012

          I've actually seen pitmasters here in Texas wrap their meat in heavy plastic wrap too. I am a little concerned about plastics and heat, so I haven't used it.

          The wrapping is good for cuts that can dry out and have to stay in there for a long time. Ribs and smaller cuts of brisket benefit most from wrapping. In spite of the water pan, it can get pretty dry in there and you don't want dry meat. Basting works too if you want to try it.

      2. If it's a new smoker you need to use it empty with the wood chips for a few hrs first , turn it up 250~275 and let it smoke away . The advice from the other posters spot on, once you get the hang of it you will find your way

        10 Replies
        1. re: Dave5440

          Yes, I forgot to mention that. It should be in the instructions and it is very important, as it burns off some smelly coatings that would not be good to get into your food.

          1. re: RGC1982

            Another thing I forgot, keep a diary of what you did, time,temp,outside temp,wind, what wood ,how much wood, how long you added wood(compared to total cooking time) was the meat at room temp, was it brined,marinated? all these are your recipe if you want to recreate or avoid mistakes this is the only way to go. BTW the biggest mistake people make when learning to smoke food,,,, is too much smoke a general rule of thumb is 1/4 of the cooking time. Here's a good site to learn from
            http://www.amazingribs.com/

            1. re: Dave5440

              what is the difference in end product if you smoke at 225 or 250 seems like i have to smoke at 250 other reviews say wont get any smoke wood will dried out inside smoke box

              1. re: wildcat2012

                25 degrees makes a difference, that's why bbq is low and slow. Read the meat section on amazing ribs, it describes what happens to meat when exposed to heat. Re the smoke , i'mm not sure what you mean , wood chips produce smoke wet or dry and they are sitting on the heat source so even if you set it at 180 it will still smoke

                1. re: Dave5440

                  Before following well-intended, but generalized advice, the OP could either listen to my advice, which is from the mouths of the customer service line at Masterbuilt only within the last four months, or call the Masterbuilt customer service line and ASK. I did not come by what I now do on my own, because all the BBQ books and experts said to set the temp lower and use wet wood. Do you know what happened when I tried that with this type of smoker? The wood did not burn enough, and I did not get enough smoke. We made two attempts that barely had any smoked flavor at all. Even switching to dry wood at the lower temperature is not enough. Since following their instructions, my results are much better.

                  Every type of smoker is different. Lower temp (the low and slow advice) is fine after you have imparted enough smoke into the meat. To actually get enough smoke, you need to do what Masterbuilt says. You can always lower the temperature after the first few hours or so.

                  The OP should also check to see if customer service will send a retrofit to enlarge the woodbox for free, as they offered and sent to me.

                  1. re: RGC1982

                    I miss read youir original post, I read "set it at 240 and it will hold 225 steady. I'm not sure what you were cooking but I would be tempted to stick an accurate thermometer in the smoker to see how accurate it holds temp. And the number one way to ruin food in a smoker is,,,,,,too much smoke!

                    1. re: Dave5440

                      These Masterbuilt electrics are well insulated and hold temperature well, which is one of the reasons I purchased one. Unlike others with thin sidewalls, the insulation keeps a steady temperature. However, you need to set it high enough to get smoke.

                      I personally don't like too much smoke flavor, but if you are doing something like a turkey or a turkey breast, you have to dial up the smoke in order to get any flavor inside the meat. I am smoking a turkey breast right now as I write this, and will set the temp down a bit once it's had about five hours. Five hours is a lot for ribs or half chickens, but not a lot for a full brisket cut or a thick turkey. There are people who like it very smokey. If you have ever tried a Greeneurg's smoked turkey, which is a legend around here, it is mahogany and extremely well-smoked. People go nuts over this bird during the holidays, so there must be plenty of people who really like a very smokey flavor.

                      I've been tempted to put a thermometer in there out of curiosity, but the real issue is not the ambient temperature in the smoker itself, but what you have to set the electronic heating element to in order to get sufficient combustion to get any decent smoke. Plus, I really do think it is better not to open the door too much.

                      BTW, experienced my first "flare up" today when I opened the door about fifteen minutes after loading chips. It was okay, because I just unplugged and kept the door closed, but if you are not careful, you can get flames.

                2. re: wildcat2012

                  The electronic coil will burn dry chips very well. I can't imagine the wood being so dry that it won't smoke. It may burn, in which case you find ash and have to replenish..

                  1. re: RGC1982

                    Masterbuilt did have some problems with smoke production when they reduced the size of the chip tray. Seems one problem is that some of the trays are sitting a little lower than others under the heat element. A little bending will get it just below the element and help get the chips to smoke. I've never soaked chips when using them in my Masterbuilt Electric Smokehouse and they smoke just fine. Even at low temps but if I'm cooking at 160-180 the element will not stay hot for long once it gets up to temp and this is where you can have some issues with getting enough smoke when smoking at low temps. I just crank it up until I start seeing smoke which doesn't take long and then turn it back down.

                    1. re: scubadoo97

                      It never occurred to me that bending it up to sit closer to the element might help, but the larger box seems to make all the difference in the world.

                      BTW, my turkey breast came out great today -- and I smoked it using dry chips at 245 degrees for six hours. I replenished the chips eve 75 minutes or so because we wanted to see if we could get the breast to taste smokey on the inside, and it worked.

          2. WC,

            While it is not the same brand as you picture, the Bradley forum has a plethora of posters and advice. You may find it worthwhile as you branch out into the world of smoking:

            http://forum.bradleysmoker.com/

            Good luck.

            1 Reply
            1. re: Monch

              There is also the Smoking meat forums http://www.smokingmeatforums.com/f/

              A lot of Masterbuilt electric smoker owners. The MES specifically