Thursday, June 24, 2010

Bradley Digital 4 Rack Smoker - It's HERE!!!!!

Well, after much thought on buying a smoker for the last year or two, I finally broke down and ordered my smoker, and today it arrived!  A day late, but worth the wait, and at least it is here!

I have read extensively about smokers, and everyone swears by one method or another.  Some swear that you only need to cook with the heat of the wood, while others swear by their charcoal smokers.  Yet others say that the best way to smoke is with a propane or electric smoker.  So in doing my research, I found a million and one opinions, but you know what they say about opinions.  "Everyone has one!"

I wanted something that wasn't going to take up a ton of space, and something that didn't involve me messing around with vents and dampers, adding wood or coals, etc.  I didn't want to be stuck at home all day gazing boringly at smoke coming out of a vent, so I went the electric route.  Sure, a lot will say that this isn't smoking, and I will never get that true smoke flavor from an electric smoker.  Maybe they are right, but I took my chance.

With that said, I ordered the Bradley 4 Rack Digital Smoker Product Code BTDS76P as I mentioned in a post a couple of days ago.  You can read more about the specs and what not in that post below if you chose.

So when I got home from work tonight, I read through the manual and decided to "season" my smoker tonight.  I mean really, what guy doesn't want to play with a new toy?  So after finding the box that FedEx left behind my gate, I took it into the backyard and started to unpack it.

Let me say that the smoker is packaged very nicely in the box, and everything is packed securely with cardboard, styrofoam, and plastic.  Packing was easy to discard, and everything that was supposed to be included with the unit was there.

The smoker was very easy to put together.  The smoke unit/bisquette injector/computer just slides into place, first inserting the bisquette track into the side of the smoker, then sliding the control box onto the two screws on the side.  After this, I unwrapped the metal water bowl, drip pan, drip pan catcher, and the racks, and washed them as directed.  I also wiped down the inside of the smoker to make sure it was clean, and we were ready to break this bad boy in.

Per the directions, it said to run the heating element at 150 degrees with smoke for one hour.  This would take 3 bisquettes, but I decided to double that and shoot for two hours.  I would assume that a longer break in can't hurt, and this was actually recommended by fellow Wine Berserker John Gardner, so that is the route I took.

The directions for the seasoning smoke were easy enough, and with the click of a few buttons, we were starting to season the Bradley.  For seasoning, I went with the Special Blend bisquettes as I have a rather large box of them, but there are many options that I could have gone with.  The bisquettes come in the following flavors:  Alder, Apple, Cherry, Hickory, Maple, Mesquite, Oak, Pecan, Special Blend, and a Jim Beam varietal that is made from old Jim Beam whiskey casks.

As a test measure, I inserted both probes of my Maverick ET-7 temperature gauge, one on the top, and one on the bottom, just to see how accurate the temperature setting was on the Bradley.  Needless to say, once the smoker got to the 150 degrees that I set it at, the probe on the top was reading 163, and 159 on the bottom probe.  This was a lot closer than I had expected, and I was pleasantly pleased.  I am sure the variation and temperature swings will be a lot different when I start loading this up with meat and poultry to smoke, but that will be in another post.

I will say that 2 hours is a long time to wait, and I spent a lot of that time out in the yard smelling the smoke, looking at the oven, and watching the bisquettes being injected onto the smoke burner every 20 minutes.  What a great feature.

In the meantime, I couldn't let the night pass without smoking something!  Unfortunately, I didn't want to be up until 6AM to smoking a brisket, so I opted to try to hot smoke some peanuts and cashews once the break in smoke completed, so I got these ready to go.

For the cashews, I wanted to try something out of the ordinary, so I put them into a stainless steel mixing bowl, added a bit of olive oil, a few drops of truffle oil, and then pulled out my spice grinders.  First I added some dried garlic and sea salt, and I then added some dried garlic and peppercorn.  I am very excited to see how these turn out!  For the peanuts, I pulled some hot sauce from the fridge, added some salt, pepper, and cayenne pepper, and mixed those up as well.  See the picture at right.

Meanwhile, Zelda and I enjoyed our stuffed breads from the Bordentown City Farmers market last night, and waited for the two hours to pass.  By the time we had finished dinner, we were ready to go, so in went the nuts.  Unfortunately, I haven't found a screen or anything to put on the racks yet for smaller item to keep them from falling through, but this is something that I need to do as this will help the smaller item absorb more smoke.  In the meantime however, aluminum foil will have to do, and I poked several small holes in the bottom for the smoke to penetrate.

Being a complete newbie, I have no idea how long to smoke these for, so I went with 2 hours at 200 degrees with full smoke.  We'll know in an hour or so how they come out.  I have the vent open about 1/2 way to help trap some of the smoke, and to keep the smoker hot inside to help dry out the nuts.  I will report back shortly, but much more to come!

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