A nice smoker for the cottage.
Summary : This countertop smoker is perfect for the cottage or for people wanting to give smoking a try. It is much harder to set the temperature accurately than Bradley's larger sized units.
Bradley Smokers have been my smoker of choice for the last number of years because I love the ease and convenience of their digital smokers. Set the temperature, fill the hopper with your wood bisquettes of choice, place meat in the smoker and walk away. There is no need to tend to the smoker, making sure there is enough wood or that the temperature is getting too hot or cold. The smoker takes care of it all really. I have had the Bradley Digital 4 Rack Smoker for a while now and it has produced consistently excellent results.
Bradley has recently released a new compact smoker. This smaller unit is perfect to sit on a countertop and has 2 racks which is still plenty of room to smoke enough food to feed a family!
The smoker looks like a large toaster oven, or countertop rotisserie. The door swings down and has a glass window allowing you to look and see how the meat is coming along. The racks are not as big as the racks in Bradley’s main smokers. One rack was able to hold, four chicken breasts, 14 Italian sausages or 1 rack of ribs, cut in half. So, it was still a decent size and there are 2 in the smoker. It is also possible to remove the upper rack and use just the lower rack, allowing larger food to be smoked, like a whole chicken.
Bradey Smokers use a special type of wood. These bisquettes are finely chipped wood pressed into the shape of a puck. One wood bisquette is burned at a time. The smokers have an internal device that times how long the bisquette is burning for. After the allotted time, the smoker pushes the burned up bisquette into a water reservoir and puts a new wood puck in place to start burning. This 2 rack unit burns a bisquette every 30 minutes, so filling the tube with pucks, allows this little smoker to work, unattended for hours.
Bradley has many different types of wood available in bisquettes: hickory, maple, mesquite, apple, cherry, pecan, alder, pacific blend and more. I love to experiment with different wood to see what I like best when smoking various meat.
The Bradley 2 Rack Smoker has a digital display and buttons to set the temperature, oven time and smoking time. It is possible to set the smoker to work for 2 hours and have the oven cooking the meat for longer. In some cases, it is not necessary to smoke the entire time the meat is cooking, so this type of precision allows you to have total control on how long you want to smoke.
As I mentioned before, I have a Bradley 4 Rack Digital Smoker, which allows you to set the exact temperature. This 2 rack smoker uses a different method for setting the temperature. There are 5 temperature settings:
- Setting 1: 160-220F
- Setting 2: 190-230F
- Setting 3: 230-270F
- Setting 4: 260-300F
- Setting 5: 290-330F
Each setting is a temperature range that the smoker will stay within. At first, I was worried that this would be a problem for me, as I am used to the precise temperature control of my other unit. But, after using this smoker many times, it has not been a problem at all. I just set the temperature so that my target was within the range of the setting and it worked out fine. The display does show the actual temperature in the smoker which was great. I was able to monitor and make sure the meat was smoking at the right temperature and if it was too hot or cold, I could increase or decrease it to another setting.
My first attempt was to smoke 2 racks of ribs. The manual said that the smoker is for household use and if used outdoors, it needs to be protected from the weather and the elements. There is a smoke exhaust hose that comes out of the back of the smoker. The manual says this can be connected to a range exhaust hood or stuck out a window. I placed the smoker on our kitchen counter and stuck the hose out the window. The smoker worked for 2 1/2 hours and a lot of smoke did go out the exhaust hose, but there was still a fair amount of smoke that filled the kitchen. I love the smell of wood smoking, but in the future, I would use this smoker outside. This compact unit is perfect for using on a counter in a garage or in a large shed or workshop.
Next, I tried boneless skinless chicken breasts and store bought fresh italian sausage. They came out amazing. The one thing I noticed during this smoke was that the back of the smoker gets hotter than the front. So, midway through, I turned the racks around to make sure all the meat was evenly smoked and cooked.
I wanted to test the smoker out with fish, so I picked up a filet of rainbow trout. Usually when I smoke fish, I have way more than one filet, but this allowed me to see how a compact smoker does fish. I brined the fish in my typical brine, rinsed the fish and let it dry for an hour or so to form a nice pellicle on the surface. I like to smoke my fish at about 150F for the first hour and then move it up 10-20F each hour. I smoke for a total of 4 hours. Since this smoker does not allow that degree precision for setting the temperature, I started it at setting 1 and let it smoke for 1 1/2 hours. Then I moved it to setting 2 for the last 2 1/2 hours. The fish came out great with very similar results to the Bradley 4 rack smoker.
The final thing I tried in the smoker were these bacon sweet pepper poppers (recipe here). Since the jalapeno popper stand and peppers are tall, I needed to remove the upper rack so this could fit in. The target temperature was 275F and I set it at temperature setting 4. They smoked for 2 hours and came out great. Smokey, gooey and cheesy, these were incredible and I really liked that I did not need to use the big smoker for a small appetizer like this. Sometimes I want to smoke something, but do not want to get the full smoker going. This compact unit is perfect for that.
I was very intrigued by this unit when I first heard about it. Honestly, I was somewhat skeptical, thinking that a compact smoker like this would not be able to produce the same results as a full size model. In the end, I was wrong and this unit produced results just as good as my larger smoker. On top of that, this 2 rack smoker uses one bisquette every 30 minutes and the other Bradley smokers use one every 20 minutes. It makes sense considering there is much less space to fill with smoke. So, this unit is more economical and, if you generally smoke smaller amounts of meat, the 2 rack compact smoker might just be the perfect choice. I have a cottage and think that this will be perfect for smoking food at the cottage.
For more information about the Bradley 2 Rack Compact Smoker check out their website.
Disclaimer: Bradley Smoker provided me with the 2 Rack Compact Smoker. They did not pay me for this review and the views expressed above are my honest reactions after trying the product.