I think everyone knows by now that I’m a gadget geek with an irrepressible enthusiasm for new technology. Still, I can’t be fed by electronics alone. Every now and again, I like to eat, and to feed my family too. I’m always looking for new and interesting ways to do that.
I recently hung out at my friend Stan’s house, and he was smoking a brisket. I examined the method he was using to smoke his meat, and to me it seemed cumbersome, messy, and above all, not safe for a blind person. He had a traditional smoker with a firebox, and he chopped the wood which was later placed in the box. I mentioned I like feeding my family, but wielding an axe to do so is a little more intense than I want to be. Once the wood has been chopped, you have to monitor the fire, throw in more wood as necessary, and wash the soot from the box when you’re done. I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like a particularly safe or pleasant experience.
Still, once I tasted the results of Stan’s work, I knew I had to find some way to do it myself. Thus began my search for a blind-friendly smoker, and I’m happy to tell you all that I found one.
Today, Jamie Pauls and I had the pleasure of speaking with Mark Miller, a member of the Bradley Smoker sales team. Mark is a guy who clearly knows his stuff, and if you listen carefully to the audio review, you might just hear our stomachs growl as Mark describes all the things he has cooked in the Bradley smoker. It turns out that smoking isn’t just about meat. You can smoke nuts, cheeses, and you can even dry fruit in the unit. If you can eat it, you can probably smoke it too.
First, let’s talk about what the smoker looks like. The best description I have for the main unit is that it looks a bit like a dorm refrigerator with a magnetic seal. There are racks inside where you place the items you’re smoking. On the side of the unit is a cylindrical tube of sorts, and this is where you place your bisquettes. Bisquettes? What are those? These are round pucks of wood that are used to create the smoky flavor for your food. Mark explains that each bisquette should burn for about 20 minutes, and will then drop in to a strategically placed pan of water in order to safely stop the wood from smoldering. The great thing about having bisquettes, aside from the safety and ease of use factor, is that you can actually flavor your food with more than one type of wood. Mark gives the example of chicken, where he initially smokes it with hickory mesquite, and then finishes it off with a little apple wood.
I’ve tried a number of different bisquettes, and you’d be amazed at just how many flavors there are to choose from. Some of the flavors I’ve tried have been awesome, and some were just not to my taste. But hey, I like experimenting, so I had just as much fun discovering the bisquettes I didn’t like as I did finding the ones that made my mouth water.
So what happens when you do find a bisquette you really like. That smoky flavor is incredible, but can there be too much of a good thing? Mark explains that it isn’t always necessary to smoke your meat for the entire time it’s inside the unit. In fact, you can cook food in the unit without smoking it at all. If you don’t want to impart any smoky flavor to your food, such as when you’re drying fruit, just don’t place any bisquettes in the tube, or smoke generator. If you do want to add some smoky flavor but don’t want to overdo it, that’s ok too. Mark again discusses chicken, and explains that as you’re smoking meat, you’ll eventually get a nice carmelized crust. Once this happens, any additional smoke you add is simply going to bounce off and exit the unit through the flue. It’s not going to go in your meat, so there’s no sense in wasting bisquettes after a certain point. For chicken, Mark will cook it for a total of four hours, but he’ll only smoke it for the first hour or hour and a half. Mark also mentions that smoking can be a rather slow process. While you can cook it for a shorter period at a higher temperature, you’re going to have moister meat if you cook it longer, but at a lower temperature. Combining all these factors to produce the ultimate in tasty food definitely takes some experimentation, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll have a really good time doing it.
We’ve talked about all the great food you can make in your smoker, but how do you go about getting it and setting it up? I should first point out that there are two types of Bradley smokers, the digital and the analog. The digital smoker has features that aren’t usable for a blind person at this time, but the analog unit is great. There are actually two analog units, although one of them, the Bradley BTIS1, will be going away soon. You’ll want to instead get the Bradley BS611, which operates exactly the same but has a slightly modified design. Once you get the unit, you can check out the completely accessible owner’s manual to find out how to set it up. I was able to do this independently without any problem. If you have issues setting up the unit or just have questions once you’ve gotten everything up and running, you’ll find that Bradley Smoker on Twitter is incredibly helpful and responsive. I got my BS611 on Amazon, and they’ve also got a nice selection of bisquettes there.
I could talk all day about just how excited I am to have this high quality, accessible smoker, but I have a set of chicken drumsticks that are demanding to be smoked, and who am I to argue. But before I go, I’d like to thank Mark Miller for taking the time to speak with us, and to thank the entire Bradley team for producing such a fantastic product.
If you want to learn more about Bradley Smokers, you can visit http://www.bradleysmoker .com or call (866) 508-7514.