Bradley Digital Smoker – a field-test review  at Cabela's

Bradley Digital Smoker – a field-test review

Author: Frank Ross

Summer is the season when most guys dedicate a lot of time to standing in front of a grill or smoker and hoping for the best.

Mark Nelsen fills the smoker with bisquettes.
While well intentioned, many would-be chefs are handicapped by the equipment they're using, and that means constant checking, poking and tinkering with the temperature, whether it's hot or cold smoke.

For me, the challenge is maintaining the quality of the finished product while reducing anxiety and tending time. That's why I'm sold on the Bradley Digital Smoker. It's a set-it-and-forget-it unit that will simplify your summer.

Bradley is noted for making quality smokers, but now it has stepped up the level of play. It seems the whole world is going digital, and there is a good reason: accuracy. With digital technology, you get accuracy and exacting control over the settings you select. With cooking or smoking, both are critical to a successful, unattended outcome.

I set out to run a test on the new Bradley Digital Smoker with a co-worker, Mark, who owns a homemade smoker made from an old Frigidaire. He is pretty proud of this unit, which is very handily cobbled together. Historically, he has had a problem regulating the heat, and his last culinary project turned out very dry.

Mark Nelsen sets the timer as wood bisquettes move toward the heating element.
With the new Bradley Digital Smoker, you can smoke, cold smoke or roast any meat, or cold smoke cheeses to perfection. Since we both are partial to smoked cheese, two blocks of cheese were on our list of foods to test. We started with the cheese using apple bisquettes, which have a more delicate flavor and aroma. These thin, pressed wafers are uniform to control timing, and they easily stack in the tube that extends from the top of the control unit on the smoker's left side. Once the system is started, a mechanism pushes them out to the heating unit, where they start to smolder almost immediately.

Following the provided directions, we set the Bradley for cold smoke, punched in the appropriate time and closed the door. While the temptation to open the door and take a peek was ever present, two hours later we finally waited it out to find cheese with a delicious smoky flavor.

After the smoking is done, the good eating begins.
Next up were two chickens, a ham and some waterfowl polish sausage. For this batch we opted for maple smoke. This unique smoke-without-fire system is capable of operating up to eight hours without refueling. Using the fully digital control panel, you use a touch pad to set the amount of smoke, cooking temperature up to 320°F and cooking time. The Bradley Flavor Bisquettes produce controlled smoke and are extinguished automatically in the water bowl that is filled halfway with water.

To prepare the larger chickens and a fat ham we chose both heat and smoke, with a four-hour smoke setting and heat at 320 degrees. Emboldened by our success with the cheese, we set the Bradley and went to the office until time for the unveiling. When the allotted time was finally up, we rushed over to Mark's garage for an inspection, and the all-important tasting. When we removed the meat and began slicing, the juice ran out and the flavor wafted up to our collective noses. Once the slices cooled slightly, big grins were evenly dispersed, and the only words spoken were actually moans of delight.

The Bradley Digital Smoker comes in a large six-rack 108-liter (5.5-sq.-ft.) smoker or the original four-rack 76-liter (3.6-sq.-ft.) size. Bisquettes are available in every type of hardwood known to man, so you'll have many options to try. Wood flavor choices include alder, apple, cherry, maple, mesquite and the ever-popular hickory.

Smoking meat is an excellent method of cooking, and with the Bradley Digital Smoker you can enjoy the end product without the hassle of constantly adjusting and tinkering. This is a set-it-and-forget-it smoker that will produce top-quality food for many years. Now, the only question we need to answer is what's next on the list of meats and cheeses to smoke!

Click here to view the Bradley® Digital Smokers.