Updated: May 14, 2019
On our recent cross-country trip we ate massive amounts of BBQ including some of the most excellent smoked brisket ever. I could hardly wait until we got home so that I could try my hand at re-creating the smoked brisket that we wolfed down during the journey. As soon as we returned I booked on over to Lowes and purchased the Masterbuilt Electric smoker and got to work.
First thing we smoked was shrimp and duck breast. Some in a teriyaki marinade and some in an Cajun marinade. Two hours at 225F with only one handful of pecan chips. Excellent result with the shrimp. Moist and flavory.
The duck was only slightly underdone and Mrs. Moose reheated it and laid it across a bed of veggies for a duck breast salad the next day. This meal was absolutely Michelin 4 star quality. Hear me now or hear me later, smoked is the ONLY way to prepare duck breast and we're going to be eating a lot more of it in the future.
The second attempt was Tri-tip. This was somewhat disappointing. A little dry and not as tender as we wanted.
We also did another 4 duck breasts and recreated the previously described duck breast salad meal the next day. Can't get enough of that.
Third attempt was trout and salmon. Trout in lemon pepper and salmon in teriyaki. The Trout was excellent. The salmon was excellent as well but was so moist that it would have been appropriate only as an entree, perhaps with a sauce. It wasn't dry enough to serve as snacking smoked salmon.
Fourth attempt was beef ribs. By this time we were slowly beginning to realize that the cooking times in the recipes needed to be lengthened. After three hours at 225F and after the meat had pulled back and exposed 1 to 2 inches of bone, we wrapped the ribs in foil and continued for another 2 hours. These were great. All of the connective tissue which normally makes eating beef ribs an exercise in jaw muscle development had reached a soft and tender state.
Fifth attempt was another batch of shrimp. This time three handfuls of pecan and apple for three hours. When we took it out we thought "oh oh ... too dry". But later, after chilling the shrimpies in the fridge, we decided that we strongly preferred the dryer version for snacking purposes.
Sixth attempt was brisket. After three hours at 225 and lots of smoke we wrapped the brisket in foil and continued for another 4 hours. The flavor was ok, but the brisket was a bit disappointing with respect to the level of tenderness we achieved. I think another 3 hours would have improved the result and it's beginning to dawn on me that it might be necessary for me to rise early in the morning to get the desired result. Next time I'll start at 7:30 AM and we'll see what effect an 11 hour cooking time has on tenderness.
With respect to the smoker, I love the fact that temperature control is a non-issue. However, the smoker has a few idiosyncrasies which make it impossible to give it a totally positive review. The LED display is almost impossible to read, even in the shade. The manual was missing any instruction as to how to confirm the temperature or timer settings you input. I discovered, by accident that the timer and meat probe temperatures could be viewed using the up and down arrows on the control panel. As a workaround, I ended up installing the Masterbuilt Bluetooth application on my phone and used that to set and confirm temperature settings. (But still, probe temperature can only viewed on the panel). I think it is easier just to look at the clock in the kitchen than it is to use the timer and I can't think of a situation where I would use the timer. The same is true about the top "broiler" element.
On the positive side, capacity is great, the window, although mostly obscured, is helpful and it is easy to clean. So overall, a nice piece of equipment with some minor flaws which can be worked around. We have not yet made the perfect brisket but I'm confident that, with a little more experimentation, that day isn't too far off.