The original Bradley smoker is a an electric powered refrigerator sized smoker. It is thermostatically temperature controlled and burns or smolders disk shaped ‘bisquettes’ to produce as much or as little smoke as you want. The original model does not have the digital display or programmable thermostat controls that are a feature of other new Bradley smokers. However it does have plenty of other new features which are improvements on earlier models.
Original but with many new features
The ‘original’ version of the Bradley smoker has the same 4 removable racks as other models but has been improved with better supports to prevent them tipping when extended. This alone is a great improvement on previous models where the racks were prone to tip when loaded with food. And whilst on the subject of tipping, the smoker has been fitted with extra wide front feet to keep in stable. This version also has improved electronic components and the heat control element has been moved to sit beside the smoke generator which can be now easily accessed via a side panel for cleaning and maintenance – not that this appliance need much maintenance being electric. The Bradley Original still has the old style dial thermostatic temperature control mounted on the sidecar smoke generator. It is very intuitive to use – far simpler than the digital display version – and there is a button to advance the bisquettes from the vertical hopper.
How it works
The Bradley Original is simplicity itself to operate. The old style dials make setting the temperature easy – if not precisely – and a temperature dial on the front panel of the door gives the inside temperature readings. The smoker has two heaters, one 125W heater for smoldering the bisquettes – more on those later – and a 500W heater for cooking. The cooking element can generate a maximum 250 degrees Fahrenheit. The minimum operating temperature is at the outside air temperature but of course there is still some heat seeping in from the smoke generator heating element when cold smoking.
Cold smoking, what is that?
The Bradley range of smokers are capable of both hot and cold smoking due to their two electrical element design. When doing traditional BBQ cooking both elements are used and the meat is cooked low and slow. With hot BBQ cooking it can easily take 8 to 10 hours to cook and smoke a whole brisket or a shoulder of pork. However this appliance can also cold smoke cheeses and hams and other things like vegetables that you may not want to cook. This is done by simply only using the smoke generator and leaving the cooking element switched off. Hot and cold smoking makes the Bradley a very versatile unit for smoking any type of food though it is dependent on the outside air temperature, so cold smoking cheeses may not be a good idea in the mid-day sun.
Reliable Set & Forget Operation
The really good thing about the Bradley range is that they can all be simply loaded up with food – and they take a lot of food on those four extendable racks – set the temperature, timer and adjust the smoke level and off you go. There is no need to keep checking, it just gets on with cooking without any user intervention required. That is when cooking most foods as they will cook in under three hours. Anything longer than that – and as we know BBQ cooking is a low and slow process – will require the bottom tray to be emptied of the burned ‘bisquettes’.
Perfect for smoking, cooking or roasting
The Bradley range are very versatile and this appliance can be used for hot and cold smoking, low and slow BBQ cooking or for slow roasting. The food trays will hold two racks of ribs each, a shoulder of pork or even a whole turkey.
The Bradley’s best point is simply its versatility due to its hot/cold smoking options. It’s easy to set up and use, even for a complete rookie.
It provides very predictable results, it’s not quick, it’s low and slow, but it is reliable and gives repeatable results which is rare when BBQ cooking
It has an attractive yet durable exterior for outdoor use, and a polished stainless steel interior. It is also very compact despite its generous load capacity it is only the size of a medium sized refrigerator.
With the 4 rack configuration you can load up and cook enough food for any sized BBQ party. Each rack can easily accommodate two full racks of ribs, shoulders of pork, briskets and whole chickens
A very useful feature for the rookie is the huge online community of Bradley aficionado’s with tips, advice, ideas and recipes.
Cold smoking is effected by the surrounding temperatures so it really needs to be 30 degrees or lower as the insulation is just not up to the job. Additional heat does come from the smoke generator’s 125W element it’s not a lot but it is enough on a hot day to ruin any attempt at a cold cheese smoke.
Unstable temperature Control
The outside air temperature in very hot or cold climates can play havoc with the thermostats causing the temperatures to vary quite a lot over a long slow cook.
The hardwood bisquettes which are burned to produce the smoke do not come with the appliance and have to be ordered separately. They come in a wide variety of flavors, hickory, old whiskey and apple are among a long list. However the vertical stacker/hopper doesn’t seem to work with less than three bisquettes. However, there is the option to buy aluminum bisquettes to rectify this design problem.
When buying the Bradley original make sure you get all the options you need as it doesn’t come with everything required to get started – like bisquettes – and without them you aren’t going to be smoking anything. It is an outdoor appliance yet it doesn’t come with an all-weather cover, you have to order that separately.
This appliance from Bradley is a great and versatile BBQ smoker and makes cooking large amounts of food easy and predictable even for an absolute rookie at BBQ cooking.