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This was my second cook with the Smokette and it wasn't bad. In fact some of it was very good, just kinda' mixed reviews. I think I partly understand what I did wrong, but just would like some input from the more experienced members.

I smoked 2 slabs of spare ribs and since I had a chuck roast in the freezer, thought I'd throw it in also. After defrosting the roast Wednesday night, I put everything in and started it up about 0900 Thursday morning at 225 degrees. I think part of the problem had to do with the placement of the meat. Since the chuck roast was about 2" thick, I felt it would take the longest, so I put it on the bottom shelf, with my remote thermometer probe in it. Nothing fancy, I didn't put it in a pan, I just wanted to see how it would come out if I smoked it like a brisket. I started to put the ribs in a rib rack on the middle shelf, but after playing with it, I changed my mind and laid them flat, with 2 slab halves on the middle rack and 2 on the top rack. I have to slice my slabs in half to get them in my freezer, so I had the slabs lying side by side on the middle and top racks.

I had read in the forum that I should take the chuck roast out in the 170's for slicing and 190's for chuck roast. I set my thermometer on 190 and let it go.

I had a temp probe from my multimeter just above the ribs on the middle rack and it seemed like the the temp. never got up much above 200 through the whole cook. I opened the door after 3 1/2 hrs. to check the ribs and they weren't even close. The roast looked pretty good, but the temp. was still about 170 and i was shooting for 190, so I left it in. I don't know if chuck roasts hit a plateau like briskets, but it seemed to stall in the 170's. Finally, about 1500, it hit 190 degrees and I took it out, but the ribs still weren't ready. They were taking much longer to cook than I expected.

I wrapped the roast in foil to let it rest, closed up the Smokette and let the ribs go.

Finally, about 1700, I took the ribs out to rest before everyone got home from work. Only one of the slab halves looked done to me, with the meat pulled away from the bones. They weren't falling off the bone for sure, but on that one slab, the bones did pull off easily. The other halves still were not pulling away from the end of the bones. They tasted good, but had to be sliced, or eaten off of the bone.

The roast was very good, but I thought it was a little dry and I should have taken it off earlier. That's how you learn.

About 2330, I put the remaining 3 half slabs back in the smoker, this time in the rib rack on the middle shelf at 225 deg. I had 2 temp. probes this time, one at the level of the bottom shelf and one at the level of the top shelf, just above the top of the ribs. The temp. difference was pretty consistent. The top probe was almost always around 20 deg. lower than the lower probe and the lower probe never got over 220, with the setting at 225.

At 0115, I checked the ribs and they were looking better, but I still couldn't pull a bone out without pulling the slab with it. Closed it back up and turned the temp. control to 250 deg.

At this point, both probes seemed to get pretty close to each other in temp. at around a high of 235 deg. At 0315, I finally took the ribs out and foiled them since I needed to go to bed. They looked better and I could pull a bone out cleanly, but the meat still wasn't pulling away much from the bone ends.

I'm at work now and just had some of the ribs I took off at 0315 for dinner. They were very good. The outside was thin, tough and chewy, but underneath that the meat excellent, very tender and juicy and the rib bones pulled away easily and cleanly from the meat.

Questions: Did having the large, thick roast on the bottom, block and absorb some of the heat from getting to the ribs? Would that be the reason the ribs took so long to cook?

I probably won't try doing 2 different types of meat at the same time again for a while, but would it have worked better if I had put the roast on the top rack, with the ribs in the rib rack on the middle shelf?

Is it normal for the temp. not to get to the set temp. with meat in the smoker, or should the temp. be hitting the set temp regardless?

Sorry this is so long, just trying to be thorough and wanting the thoughts of some of the much more experienced smokers before my next attempt.


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I assume,before cooking with them, you had verified the boiling and freezing points on your therms to see how accurate they were?

I assume you checked the actual temps at the point on the racks you placed the meats,so you knew what temp the cooker was actually running?

If not,there could be 100 reasonable answers to the questions.

I'd suggest reread some posts,while we let some more experienced folks chime in.

Some chuck roast has about the same likeness to some brisket,as an ostrich might to a parakeet.

Spares,trimmed St.Louis,that came from a small 200 lb market pig,never frozen,running at 275* could finish in 3 1/2 hrs.

Untrimmed,previously frozen,from a 700 lb sausage sow,cooking at 200* ,might take 10-12 hrs,and the meat might never pull back from the ends.

Hope this helps a little.
Last edited by tom

I have checked the thermometers 3 different times, once before I did the brisket last week and they have been very accurate, but I was running to get everything going and didn't check before this cook. When I started in the morning I had the multimeter therm probe just above the ribs on the middle shelf. When I put them back in at 2330, I had that probe just above the bottom shelf and another one just above the top shelf, with the ribs on the middle shelf.

I didn't do the St. Louis cut because at the time, I still didn't understand what it was, but last night, while I was reading on the forum, I found a very good video that shows what it is and how to do it, so I'm going to give that a try next time. These were whole slabs, cut in half.

I also found a post from Smokin last night where he said that in the smokette, the meat on spares doesn't often pull away from the bone ends and that normally happens when done on a grill. so I may have been looking for something that just wasn't going to happen. I'm going to have to start making notes on where these posts are because now I'm having trouble finding it again.

Still wondering if having that big, thick roast on the bottom shelf may have had been blocking the heat to the ribs and if the internal temp should be closer to the set temp, or if the internal temps are normally lower than set.

When I did the initial break in, the smoker was set at 200 and empty except for a pan of water and it varied from 175 to 225, averaging 200. I'm wondering if having meat in the smoker is causing the internal temp to be lower. I think next time I do spare ribs, I'll just try setting it at 250 from the start.


Well,seems like you are doing the things to make you a good cook.

I don't check therms every cook at home,but I do before leaving for every cookoff.

Invariably,if we take five,two will be 5 degrees off Mad

Smoke moves around meats,just like pouring a bucket of water in the top.

Unless you found a way to make a seal,where heat won't rise,don't worry-you can't mess it up.

You'll find forum members that put 35 lbs in the Smokette,instead of the 22 that Cookshack conservatively suggests. Big Grin

We all still wonder where that water pan came from in the breakin. Confused

Water boils/steams at about 212*,thus you have a cooker with an internal temp of about that temp.

If you are trying to raise the temp of a butt to 205*,as some members like,at 212* cooker temp,and you open the door to check, you'll be too old to eat it-without a blender. Roll Eyes

225* IF accurate is a good working temp for an assortment of some bbq meats.

Yes, a load in the cooker is a heat sink,but like your kitchen oven,it will still cycle on,to reach that temp.

That chuck roast is like leaving the 12 pack of beer in your V-8 auto and wondering if that is affecting you gas mileage. Big Grin

Get rid of the water pan,set the therm at max,put your probes on different shelves,check temps every half hour,take good notes.

Now you now what you are cooking at.

If you do 10 more cooks,you'll figure this out on your own,without our comments,and wonder why new folks keep asking this.

Don't worry,we all do it. Big Grin

Think about the old country guy,without a high priced cooker,cooking a 65 lb case of butts this weekend,without a forum,on an old oil tank.

He learns the spots on his cooker,uses the spots he needs,doesn't worry about doing it perfect each time.

He puts the meat in,puts salt and pepper on it,cranks it up,cooks it until it is done.

He doesn't know any better, and we all talk about him as the guy that used to cook old time great bbq.

Have fun,don't worry.

You'll be telling some new folks this ,next month.

Using the pan of water is in the operating instructions that came with the Smokette.

The interior of your smoker needs to be "broken in" or seasoned before
you cook your first load of meat.
Remove the strap that holds the wood box to the heating element bracket
during shipping.
Place 6 ounces (3 pieces) of properly sized wood in the wood box.
Place a container of water on one of the grills in the smoker to insure
even heating of the unit during seasoning.

After seasoning it as the instructions said, I called customer service with a couple of questions and the young lady asked me how much wood I'd used. I told her 3 pieces and she said that was too much. That's what the instructions say to use though. Maybe they need to re-write their Operators Manual.

I've been cooking most of my life, but this method is new to me and I've frequently had the same thoughts you just posted. A lot of us are working real hard to put out good BBQ and would be lost without all of our remote thermometers and other digital doodads, but people have been producing pretty good BBQ without any of these gadgets since the discovery of fire. Probably worrying too much about this. I need to just relax, cook more and become more familiar with my smoker. Smiler


Place a container of water on one of the grills in the smoker to insure
even heating of the unit during seasoning.

Key words, DURING seasoning. Take it out after.

Please call, write CS if you feel the instructions aren't clear (or even differ from the forum).

One thing you'll get here is specific advise about specific issues.

Too many people think they need to add a water pan, that it's going to keep the meat moist. It doesn't. The water pans in bullet smokers is for heat diffusion.

When cooking and reading, you have to pick out the little things.

BB will cook faster than St. Louis which will cook faster than untrimmed spares. The differences in those cuts can be hours.

KEY is to keep good notes. For ribs, weigh them. The difference in a 2.5 lb st louis and a 4.5 lb full spare could be 5 to 7 hours.

Yes, rib pull back is not a definition of done. I've gotten plenty of 9's for tenderness with ribs in contests and they never pull back. There are just so many variables to try to use that.

Do a search on Ribs and Toothpicks and that method will help you have success. Others like the Flex Test (grab it with tongs from the end and see how it flexes)
I think there's a lot of misunderstanding about the water pan thing. I don't use a water pan in the Smokette every time I cook. I used one during the 1st break-in/seasoning because that's what the instructions say to do, but every time someone mentions that, everyone jumps to the conclusion that they're using a water pan every time, when in reality, they're only using it once, per the instructions. I included that quote because I thought it would make that clear, but that didn't seem to work either. I think the instructions are very clear, they just cause some misunderstanding when mentioned on the forum.

I hereby promise never to use the words water pan in a post again. Or the f-word. Big Grin

I'll stop using the meat pulling back from the bone as a test for being done. I remember Smokin saying something in another post that I can't find now, that when using the Smokette, the meat often won't pull back. The lack of pull back is probably due to the moisture retention when cooking in the Smokette. I'm guessing that the meat pulling back from the rib ends is probably due to the meat drying out in smokers with a lot more drying air flow than the Smokette, or being cooked on a grill. I have been wrong before however.

I'm going to try to do a St. Louis cut on my ribs next time. It looks like that would help them cook more evenly.

Thanks for the help. Sorry about the rant.

Hopefully some of the explanations will turn up in a search and help some new users.

Chances are,through the lack of understanding about the search functions,the sheer volume of all the current forums,and the thought that an instruction sheet is the gospel,it will be a constant journey.

The instructions are at least a guide and can't hurt,while they help get folks started.

Remember that,when you become an "old timer". Wink
Last edited by tom

I believe the reason that a lot of us who are drawn to grilling/smoking and cooking in general, is that it's one of those pursuits that appeals to those of us who are somewhat O/C and constantly striving to do the best we can, to continually improve and not screw up too badly. You know. The type of person that has several thermometer probes sprouting out of the smoke hole, measuring the temp at each level as well as 2 probes in the meat, has checked them all first and a difference of 5 degrees means a new thermometer. That kind of person tends to be the type who reads instructions and believes that the people who manufacture the product and wrote the instructions know what they're talking about, so they do take them as gospel. So, believing that and being excited and anxious to get started, most of us have done that first seasoning/break-in smoke before coming to the forum for tips and advice. Not that I'm that type.

At least the Cookshack instructions are written in a language that I can understand. Smiler

You're right about the amount of information. It can be confusing and sometimes contradictory as people learn and find better ways to do things. That's what makes this fun.

Gotta' run. I have to go back to Sears and exchange a thermometer.



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