So, as we are approaching the season of eating, I wanted to talk about one of the greatest tools a meat eater can own, the Bradley Digital Smoker. When I think of a smoker, I think brisket, pulled pork, chicken, ham, OK pardon me while I go fix a little snack….OK, now that I’m stuffed again, I can continue talking about meat and how to cook it. When I think about smoking a brisket, once I’m done salivating about a perfectly cooked piece of meat, I used to think about all the times I’d over cooked, under-cooked, over smoked, or completely dried out the slab of meat before getting to eat it, but still eating it because of all the time I’d spent getting it ready. Let’s face it, smoking meat is a pain. Closely monitoring a piece of meat in a smoker for 12 hours while it smokes is annoying to say the least. The only reason why we do it is for the reward at the end, hopefully a perfectly smoked piece of meat. Well, I’m here to tell you there is a better way, and is it ever better! The Bradley Digital Smoker is a must for anyone who likes to smoke meat. It is so easy to use, that you can actually enjoy the process again.
To start with, lets look at the construction of the smoker box. The box is constructed out of a stainless steel interior, and an epoxy coated exterior. The most important part about the smoker box is it is insulated. My first smoker was a propane powered sheet steel smoker. Smoking during the winter was nearly impossible because if the wind was blowing, the box would not stay hot enough, and if the wind died, the temperatures would skyrocket above what you wanted. On several occasions, this caused some of the disasters mentioned above. The end of this story, was we stopped using the smoker after I overcooked a brisket because it was impossible to keep the temperature stable. With the Bradley Digital Smoker, the insulated box helps to keep the temperature completely stable, right where you want it. The box also features movable shelves and hanging clips for hanging meats such as sausage. A drip pan catches all the drippings and uses it to keep the meat hydrated. The door seals with a gasket to also help keep temperature stable and keep the smoke in. There is a replaceable heating element in the bottom of the smoker that is used to maintain the proper temperature.
The second main component of the Bradley Digital Smoker is the smoke generator. This is where the greatness of this smoker comes out. This little box hooks into the smoker chamber and provides the smoke, and controls the heating element inside the smoker. The smoke generator has two controls on the front, one is a timer for smoke, and the other is the time and temperature for the heating element. To use the smoker, you simply hook up the smoke generator, load it with the wood bisquettes, set the smoking time, the cook time and temperature, fill the drip bowl with water and you are off. If you have never used any other type of smoker, you might not realize how awesome and simple this really is. Hook up a wireless meat thermometer and you can go inside and do other things and monitor the meat while doing something else. I will usually set an alarm to go off at certain temperatures on my wireless thermometer, so as the meat is progressing I will get reminded to go check on it. Keep the water bowl full and let it go until it is done or you reach the next step in your recipe.
Another feature is the cold smoke option. This allows you to smoke without heat using the smoke generator. This is great for smoking cheese and other meats that are already cooked and you just want to enhance the flavor. If you store the smoker outside, I recommend getting a cover for it, as you will want to keep it out of the weather. One of the complaints I have heard is about the bisquettes. They are expensive, and because of the way they feed, you have to feed an extra 2 through the smoke generator (unless you find some “pucks” that are available online that will feed all the bisquettes through the smoke generator without wasting the last 2). The bisquettes usually smoke for about 20 minutes each, and they are automatically fed through the smoke generator for the allotted time you set on the smoker function. While discussing the bisquettes, there are several different woods available to fit your personal preference and your recipe. If you are new to smoking I recommend a sample pack so you can try out a few different woods to get a feel for how the type of wood can impact the flavor. If your recipe doesn’t specify, hickory and mesquite are good places to start, mesquite on beef, and hickory on ham – there is a reason that is how lunch meats are smoked with those woods.
There really isn’t a whole lot more to say about the smoker, it is a great tool for any gourmet meat cook, and the Bradley Digital Smoker is the easiest one I have found to use. Bradley support is great, they have forums with recipes, tips, tricks. Spend some time there and in no time you’ll be enjoying some of the best meat you have ever had – at home! As a parting gift, here is my smoked ham recipe, I have smoked it for the last few Christmas dinners by request. My favorite part, it’s easy! Enjoy!
- 1 cured ham – (I have used an uncured organic cooked ham the last few years, it’s great! Just make sure whatever you get is fully cooked, even spiral cut is ok…)
- 1 cup Honey Dijon Mustard
- Dark Brown Sugar
- 1 small can pineapple juice
If you want to make your own mustard, here is a good recipe
- For homemade Honey Dijon Mustard
- 1/2 cup yellow mustard
- 1/2 cup honey
- 1/4 cup Dijon or Spicy Brown Mustard
- Remove your ham from the packaging and wipe off excess moisture with paper towel.
- Get smoker up to 225.
- Right before you put it on your smoker, spread mustard and sprinkle with brown sugar.
- Smoke for 2 hours.
- Place on foil, spray all over with pineapple juice and loosely cover with foil. Smoke 1 hour.
- After an hour, you should be close to 140 internal temp. Once you’re there, glaze.
- Open foil, sprinkle more brown sugar, as heavy as you would like, and spray with juice again.
- Smoke another hour until internal temp is at least 145 and the glaze sets.
- Let rest for 20 minutes, cut and serve!