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I don't have a smoker but do have a grill. I'm tried two things. First I smoked a couple venison steaks followed by some chicken thighs. I have an A Maze N smoker and used mesquite pellets. Absolutely the smoker worked great...lots of smoke. I kept the grill temp no greater than 250 degrees and smoked for several hours until my meat thermometer said it was done. In both cases the meat was done but, upon eating...although good...there was absolutely no smokey flavor. Is this a situation where the only way you can get a "smokey flavor" is you use a fatty meat?
I would say your temp is too high & it's cooking to fast. Not enough time in the smoke.
I like low & slow. I like to have at least 2 hours minimum of smoke on anything I do.
The surface of your meat should also be dry as smoke will not penetrate moisture well.
I start my temp at 125 with dampers open to allow air flow for 1/2 hour. This helps the surface of the meat to dry. Then I bump the temp up to 160 to & put my chips on ( or in your case start your pellets). Once the chips start smoking they will also add some heat so I try to keep it below 180 degrees till I'm done smoking then I bump up the temp to get the meat up to my finished temperature.
This has worked well for me for years on a variety of meats. Try wet brining your chicken over night too. It will keep it nice & moist inside as well as add flavor.
Meat absorbs smoke at certain temps, 110 and 140 if I remember right.
Also true about the outside needing to be dry.
Something is off somewhere. I have been smoking for decades and even competed in BBQ comps. I have put meat on wet and dry, and it always had smoke flavor. Meat will ONLY absorb smoke for 3 hours. After that, you are just burning money by throwing on more logs, chunks, chips, etc... Even with just lump charcoal, meat get smoke flavor. It may be an airflow problem. The smoke needs to be drawn over the meat, from the firebox, and out the chimney/stove pipe. Try adjusting the air intakes. You should have a solid column of smoke coming out, if not you need to adjust until you see that. Then you manage your temp and fire. Good luck, and remember that playing around while you're making Q is half the fun.
Meat doesn't absorb smoke past 140F slow down the first steps
From what I understand at a certain temp (I was thinking 170 but maybe it is lower) the smoke ring is done and won’t go any deeper. But there is not time or temp limit on how long the meat will absorb smoke.
I did a whole brisket last week on the grill with a "smoke tube", filled it three times. Have used the tube many times and like it. Brisket was at 200°-225° 14hrs and has no smoke "ring" or much Mesquite flavor. I'm about 1-4 on Brisket, guess I'll try again.
You should probably get tested for COVID. Hard to imagine no smokey flavor after several hours in mesquite smoke.
I had it but all good now, I can smell your sarcasm from here
I do a lot of smoking.....mostly pork and chicken. I'm not sure about the smoke saturation times as I never gave it much thought. I have one of those round, bullet shaped, electric smokers. Had that one about 16 - 17 years. Once it craps out, I have a NIB, spiffy one with the glass doors.
Anyway......on my current smoker....I can do different cuts of pork and the thermo will tell me when they're done. I put them in an aluminum foil "bowl" to retain the juices as it smokes. Helps keep it from drying out. I use mesquite, oak or apple. It takes mine about 8.5 to 9.5 hours to smoke depending on the outside air temp and wind that day. I use 2 thermos to cross-check temps. When the thermos show an internal meat temp of 175 degrees + or -.....I'll pull the pork butts or shoulders out of the smoker. The shoulders often fall apart. The butts I use are held together by the outer case (skin). I've smoked meat-loafs before and get excellent results and those show a definite smoke ring.
Strange that there was absolutely no smoke flavor after several hours of smoking with mesquite. I can cold smoke chicken and then finish on the grill and it always has flavor. Sounds to me that the meat had very little to no contact with the smoke. Maybe the position on the grill and venting issue, I don't know, just very strange to me to have absolutely no smoke flavor after several hours no matter what the temperature was.
After reading several of your replies I'm thinking there may have been an issue with the meat not seeing the smoke. Although plenty of smoke exited the grill it was coming out the sides...no top vent on my grill. Plus I had the chicken on the internal cooling rack of the grill. Regarding time I had the thighs in there for 4 hours until the internal temp hit 165. I never opened the grill in that entire time.
I've got an actual smoker coming. Hopefully I'll have success with it.
That's crazy. Even if I cook a whole chicken at 350 degrees on my GMG I still get smoke flavour. Wet meat definitely picks it up faster. Spritzing meat will add some.
I'm pretty sure Sandman was pointing out mesquite has a strong flavor, hard to see how you did not get some smoky flavor out of it. Good luck with the new smoker, I bet you will enjoy it . Also , pellets are not known for strong smoke flavor, did you use all hardwood pellets or did they have some filler?
The pellets I used were A Maze N brand which are supposed to be pure.
If it's a lean meat, especially something like Chicken or a lean cut of beef, I've found that I get much better results if I brine the meat over night... Nothing fancy - I will put mine in like an old ice cream bucket with water and then add some seasoning salt, some sort of bbq seasoning, little pepper - maybe half a coke or Dr pepper for acidity...
Beyond that I generally try and go longer and slower... I often times smoke around 180-190 - keep checking the temps to make sure the meat gets over any type of stall (if its a larger piece) - depends on what your smoking...
I have a couple different smokers both charcoal and pellet. I will tell you this the pellet smoker doesn't put near the smoke flavor the stick/charcoal does. I was told it's because the pellets burn so clean. I love it for winter smoking and convenience on very long smokes but the meat I cook over charcoal and wood chunks always has better bark and more smoke flavor. I've tried adding additional pellet tubes and all the tricks others say to try but never can get a good smoke flavor out of pellets like I get over hickory chunks
Don't waste money on Briskets while you learn. Buy Chuck Eye Roasts and figure your smoker out. Just as good and way cheaper.