The oldest form of cooking gets a 21st-century makeover with the Bradley Smart Smoker.
The company that simplified slow-smoking back in the ’70s with its low-maintenance compressed sawdust bisquettes just took an electronic leap forward with this new Smart Smoker, with Bluetooth connectivity for smartphone control. As soon as I read about it, I wanted to give it a test drive.
To come clean, I had serious doubts. Smoking is the most old-fashioned method of cooking of all. Tending to a fire is hands-on and instinctive. It speaks to our congenital caveman. It has romance.
I wasn’t feeling that as I followed the wiring-connection diagrams required to assemble my Smart Smoker, filled its precisely marked water bowls and loaded the chimney with prefabricated flavour bisquettes. And even less so as I hit the Bluetooth sync function on my new iPhone Bradley app—which enables remote control of temperature and smoke flow while tracking internal temperature of two different meats at a time.
Now, ask a good pitmaster anywhere from here to Texas about internal temperature and they will tell you that there is no magic number that produces guaranteed championship brisket, ribs or pork butt. It’s all instinct. But you must remember that, unlike us dabblers, a pitmaster has the day job of pitmaster. And a big part of that insanely repetitious career is playing up pitmaster mystique.
For you and me, internal temperature is bloody important. And never more so than when you’re cold smoking. So that’s where I started: with a nice, two-kilo hunk of a Chinook salmon that I caught in Haida Gwaii last summer. Three days of curing, a good rinse and two days of air-drying, and my fish was ready for the smoker.
Bradley makes a cold-smoking attachment, but you don’t really need it. I smoked my fish with the heat function off. And while the smoker plate alone will raise temperature in the smoker to about 20°C, if you load a tray of ice above and below your fish, its internal temperature won’t rise over 10°C. And I learned that while lying on the sofa reading a good book, casting only an occasional glance at my iPhone.
The smoked salmon came out perfectly. Seriously—it was exceptional. Next up, I’m doing wild boar bacon and some cured game sausage. And of course I’ll be hot-smoking some chicken thighs, the way American BBQ champion Tuffy Stone taught me last summer.
I am sold.
The new Bradley Smart Smoker with iSmoke sells for about $750 at Canadian Tire and other retailers. BradleySmoker.com