Review-Masterbuilt Electric Smoker Pt II

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This is part two of my review of the Masterbuilt Electric Smoker and I left off with the unit not producing much, if any, smoke.

So after replacing the wood chips with bone dry wood, I thought I should start start having smoke roll out of this thing like it was on fire.

It didn’t happen.

No matter what I did I just could not get the volume of smoke that I thought I would get out of this unit. Over the season I tried using the supplied wood chip box. I tried ordering wood pellets that even came with its own special burn box. That didn’t do it. I tried making a packet out of aluminum foil and putting it – filled with wood chips – directly on the heating element. That didn’t work either. I even tried lighting 3 or 5 pieces of charcoal (no simple feat) and putting the hot briquettes in a small metal pan with a wood chip foil packet on top. That process seemed to work the best, but the chips and the briquettes burned out pretty quickly so I was left to putting in more charcoal and wood chips about every half an hour.

For whatever reason, it seems to me that the heating element in this unit just does not get hot enough to cause wood chips – wet or dry – to smolder and produce a decent amount of smoke. While the unit did pretty much maintain a fairly consistent heat level and it did cook the ribs and chicken just as it should, the finished product lacked the smoke flavor I am always looking for.

Continue reading “Review-Masterbuilt Electric Smoker Pt II”

The Art Of True Barbeque

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In my opinion, true barbecue is when you have a tough, cheap piece of meat and you transform it into a mouth-watering meal that is full of flavor and so tender that you can cut it with a spoon. That’s what true barbecue is all about.

And there is an art, as well as a science, to real barbecue. real barbecue is cooking over low heat for an extended period of time. You want to let your meat have all the time it needs to stay juicy and soak up all the flavor of the smoke. The reason for the low heat is to allow plenty of time for all the muscles and connective tissues that make up your favorite cut of meat to deconstruct a bit. That is what turns your nasty cut of meat into something that you can cut with a spoon.

The first thing that I tackle when its smoking time is the fire or heat source. Since I do not cook with fire or direct heat, I utilize about 3/4 of a chimney full of charcoal briquettes. I get them lit and let the bottom briquettes get good and hot while the top ones are just getting started. Once the briquettes are ready, I move them over to the grill – and I do use a bbq grill to smoke on for now. I pile the briquettes at one end of the grill and toss on a few chunks of Western brand hickory or mesquite wood chunks and wait for the grill to come up to temp and for the smoke to get started.

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To Soak Wood Or Not To Soak

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It seems to be conventional wisdom that you should soak your wood chips or chunks before using them in a charcoal or gas grill or smoker. Just about half of everything I have read over the past couple of years says that wood chips and/or chunks should be soaked. The reason being is that “wet” wood will smoke and not burn until it dries out.

On the other hand, there are just as many who will tell you that in order for wood to burn cleanly, it has to first be dry and seasoned. And if that is in fact the case, why go through all the bother if you’re just going to allow the wood cells to soak up water? The non-soakers offer up that soaking the wood helps the temperature be kept below the point of full combustion, that the burn is incomplete and the smoke and steam carry with it unburnt components such as creosote, that you really don’t want on your food. Keep in mind that creosote is a gummy, tarry compound which often accumulates in a chimney or in your pit) Besides, they would say, if you soak, you just have to cook off all the steam before the wood can start smoking.

For me personally, I prefer not to soak my wood. I have found that when I am cooking over charcoal, I get a pretty decent amount of smoke when I use dry wood chunks and for most smoking, I prefer to use a combination of oak and either hickory or mesquite woods. I find that the oak gives the meat the kind of “smoke” flavor that I like and the hickory or mesquite gives it just a bit more flavor.

Now, when I am using my electric smoker – and I pretty much use it exclusively for smoking salmon these days (you can read my review here to find out why) – and when I do smoke salmon I prefer to soak my wood chips for about half and hour or so before putting it to work in the smoker. Not that I get the heating element hot enough to actually light the wood on fire, but it does take longer before I have to even think about adding more wood chips.

So basically when it comes to whether you should soak your wood before smoking, it boils down to your own personal preference. Half of you prefer to soak your wood first and the other half prefer not to soak. So in the full scheme of things – half of you are right and half of you are wrong. You just have to decide which half of the discussion is right and which half is wrong.

Regardless of whether you decide to soak or not soak, load up your cooker, get your favorite cut of meat and get busy smoking!

My Review – Masterbuilt Electric Smoker

masterbuilt_electric_smoker

I bought the Masterbuilt 30-in analog electric smoker at the beginning of last season and I figured it was time to write a review about it.

First let me say – I didn’t pay very much for it and in all honesty, I am glad that I didn’t.

I am still fairly new at smoking at home so I am still looking for the right smoker for me and my wife. We had discussed some of the smokers on the market and thought maybe electric might be the way to go. You see, I had been smoking on a bbq grill and it was working out okay but regulating the heat was and is a major problem for me. We thought maybe electric would get and hold the 225° that I use cook at. So I went ahead and bought the Masterbuilt 20070210 30-Inch Black Electric Analog Smoker.

I hauled it home and assembly was pretty straight forward. I was able to put it together by myself with just a few ordinary hard tools. Putting this puppy together required screwing in the legs, the carrying handles, the door handle and the temperature gauge. Once that was completed, all that was left to do was slide in the cooking grates, put the wood chip and water bowls into the wood chip grate and slide in the drip tray into the grooves on the bottom side of the smoker body. Continue reading “My Review – Masterbuilt Electric Smoker”