Published on March 7th, 2014 | by Greg
Bradley Countertop Smoking: Easy, But Still Best Outdoors
Long ago, in a state far away from our new Manhattan offices, we had plenty of space. It was a time when we could easily fit a Kegerator inside without worrying about losing desk space, and house an enormous smoker while working on our foodie credentials. After all, there’s nothing better than artisinal bacon, and nothing is fresher than when you do-it-yourself. But times have changed, and in New York City, you’re unlikely to have room and neither do we.
Which is why we were excited to try out the new Bradley Countertop Smoker, a two-rack unit about the size of a big microwave. The digital controls and temperature display allow you to dial in your temperature- sort of- and let the smoker do the trick, for up to six hours. The automatic smoke generator and built-in fans circulate the smoke for optimal flavor penetration, and it’s best to leave some space all around your cuts to allow that air around. You can even do entire chickens or other smaller birds. The smoker uses their standard briquettes, with a feeder system that did have occasional trouble, but allows you to choose from a variety of their dozen flavors, and even alternate the briquettes as you wish. They offer plenty of options, from classic Hickory to Mesquite, Whiskey Oak, Maple, Pecan, and many more.
We liked the size of the unit, perfect for anyone who doesn’t need to smoke that much at a time, and the temperature range will cover most use cases, from 140 to ~340 degrees Fahrenheit, just low enough to smoke salmon, and suitable for most meats, even nuts. Depending on the conditions, you might notice some temperature variations, as it’s not completely sealed. The same goes in reverse- we found ourselves a little smoky when trying the unit indoors, and you’ll have to have it properly vented (near a window or a hood), or use in a garage or other area with plenty of space and airflow. They do caution you, though perhaps not enough. Trust us: opening the front door during smoking will set off your smoke alarm. The cord isn’t that long, though, so you’ll need a little preparation. And, as we alluded to above, you don’t really set the temperature directly, more the power level, from five presets.
Overall, though, it’s the best small smoker we’ve used, and ideal for occasional use or smaller batches. You might not be able to cold smoke very well- cheeses would be impossible, for instance- but for just about everything else this is a simple and effective solution. Available at a pretty good price too- online and in store for around $140.