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Author Topic: Edumacate me.....  (Read 706 times)

Offline MDsmoker

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Edumacate me.....
« on: January 02, 2017, 03:26:35 am »
I have wanted a smoker for years and finally bought a Bradley digital....seems like a fine machine but I have issues which I believe stem from pure cluelessness. Before I start dumping in more money or modifying a brand new machine I figured I would come to people in the know.....so here is my tale.

My first smoke consisted of a 12lb brisket. I set the smoker up on my porch, was about 40 degrees out with a wind of about 10mph. I looked up what I thought was a good recipe on the net, let my brisket come close to room temp, cut it in two and seasoned it. I placed the halves on the middle two shelves of the 4 rack machine and began the smoke. The recipe called for a 9 hour smoke at about 230 degrees. I also bought a digital meat thermometer so I could monitor the meat temp as the hours past. Changed out the water bowl about every 2 hours with warm H20 and noted at the end of 8 hours the meat temp had pegged 170, done according to my thermometer. The smoker temp varied between 185-203 no matter what I had the oven temp set to. I decided to take the meat out and give it a cut. It looked good, tasted great, but a bit tough. I couldn't understand why I could not get the smoker temp up to the setting I had indicated yet I figured not bad for the first smoke.....I would have to do more homework.

On new years the family was getting together and I offered to pony up some smoked pork ribs. I bought 3 racks of quality meat, about 10lbs, and looked up a 3-2-1-recipe. The weather was about the same be it a bit more windy. The results were pathetic. Again I could not get the smoker up to temp and ended up with 6 sloppy slabs where the bones were more tender than the meat. At the end of dinner I was told to go sit on the Group W bench and ordered to seek help least I become a repeat offender. Truly what I had done would have been considered a crime.

Back I went to the forums to read more. I understand the concept of low and slow. After a lifetime of oven cooking at 325-425 degrees for 1/2 to 3 hours, cooking for 6-9 hours at 225-240 appears low and slow to me....if only I could get the temp up to do it. 12-15 hours at 180-190 just for dinner seems out of the ball park. Next, I noted that my meats took up about 75% of the rack space.....am I trying to do too much at once? The pics Bradley advertise their smokers with suggests not. I noted that many people have modified their smokers with another 500 watt element. When I wrapped the ribs up for the 2 hours of cook I turned my smoke feed off but noted that the element staying on constantly still caused the three pucks on the feeder to smoke. I also realize that if the element constantly stays on attempting to get the unit up to temp, it will ultimately cause the element to fail prematurely. I am not keen on modifying the unit if I do not have to. In my mind someone paid big money to an engineer to design this thing....it should work if properly operated.

In the end I have learned that when it comes to smoking, contrary to popular American beliefs, not all men are created equal. To achieve the simple delectable dinner, do I need to utilize this unit hand in hand with my home oven? Are my expectations for this unit unrealistic? Should I have bought and axe, chain saw, and one of those units from Home Depot with a smoke stack that doubles for a diesel truck exhaust? The family is on the verge of revolt if I can not get this thing figured out. All feedback will be greatly appreciated......John

Offline Smoke and Fire

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2017, 08:59:18 am »
John welcome to the forum. A 10 mph breeze could have caused your problems also the vent was it wide open I've never closed mine also I've never smoked more than 4 hrs. Look for recipes on here they are for the Bradley Smoker.      Sorry for your problems. Ray

Offline MDsmoker

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2017, 09:49:07 am »
I smoked with the vent about 1/4 open attempting to keep in some heat......the problems are just a bump in the road, I just wanted to get some feedback before I jump the gun and join the 900 club. A 10mph wind is pretty normal here where I live so if that is what is the obstacle is then I may have to modify. If the obstacle is my knowledge.....it is cheaper to learn.

Offline Smoke and Fire

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2017, 11:42:05 am »
Open the vent what is happening is your holding the moisture in lower your temp  I've yet to do any modifications to my smoker 10 mph shouldn't effect you to much. Did you add any apple juice or whatever when you foiled your Ribs. It gets easier in summer  keep trying and ask questions if needed before smokin      Ray

Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2017, 01:28:36 pm »
As Smoke and Fire stated open your vent more. Try a 1/2 to 3/4 open setting. Learn to cook by internal meat temperature, and only use time as a loose guideline. The meat is done when it is done. An internal temperature of 170°F for brisket generally will equal tough meat. Your brisket will be done, anywhere between 185°F - 205°F.

Read some rib threads, to better understand how to cook ribs, again the 3-2-1 method is only a guideline. If possible cook the meat one day ahead and reheat. That way your family is not getting frustrated waiting for the food to be done. Or start your cook much earlier. Keep a log recording the weight of the food, time it takes to cook etc.

There is nothing wrong with starting a cook in the Bradley and finishing it in the oven.


     I
         don't
                   inhale.
  ::)

Offline clarke21953

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2017, 02:43:15 pm »
I don't know of your were opening the door occasionally or not. Wrapping a brick with aluminum foil and putting it next to the water bowl helps the unit to retain some of the heat you will lose when you open the door. Hang in there. It is easier in warmer weather. Like Habenero Smoker says, in the colder weather you'll have to start earlier.

Sent from my LGLS775 using Tapatalk


Offline Habanero Smoker

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2017, 01:28:37 am »
Opening the door every two hours to change the water may also contributed to the low temperatures. I understand that two hours is recommended, but I will generally will go four hours. There are exceptions, like when I have a particularly fatty brisket, and/or don't trim the fat down to 1/8".


     I
         don't
                   inhale.
  ::)

Offline MDsmoker

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2017, 02:44:13 am »
Thank you....I will give a try to the suggestions. I may have to utilize the oven in conjunction with the smoker in the cold months and will search the site for recipes specific to the Bradley smoker. The brick idea is something try also. I have a rather large building with a lean to that I considered moving the smoker out to that I could erect a canvas barrier to protect the smoker from the wind. I think I may have to cut down my expectations to about a 5 or 6 pound piece of meat ill I get the hang of this thing. We are going to try and learn this before I go modifying the unit.

Offline Smoker John

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2017, 09:22:19 am »
In addition to the suggestions above, it definitely helps to block the wind at the vent. I just stand something heavy that won't blow over to block the wind. It helps as the wind will suck the heat right out of the smoker.
Bradley Digital 4 Rack
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Offline tskeeter

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2017, 10:52:53 am »
MD, I think you've had several issues at the same time.

I'm  with Smoker John regarding protecting your vent from breezes.  Wind seems to really suck the heat out of Bradleys. 

Hab's comments about your vent are dead on.  Moisture trapped inside your smoker cabinet keeps the temperature from going up because the moisture can absorb a tremendous number of BTU's.  Your vent should always be at least half way open to allow moisture to escape.  I consider 3/4 open to be the starting point for adjusting the vent.  On my own smoker, I have removed the vent damper.  It's 100% open all the time.

Ditto Hab's comments about opening your smoker door.  The old adage "If you're lookin, you ain't cookin" is certainly true.  The time it takes for the heat to recover every time you open the door is significant. 

As Clarke said, to reduce heat recovery time, many of us use a foil wrapped brick tucked under the puck feeder chute as a heat sink. 

Another heat recovery improvement technique is to use boiling water, or as close as you can get, in your puck bowl.  Warm water is a step in the right direction.  Hot is better.

An additional heat recovery technique is to continue to run your puck burner after your smoking cycle is complete.  It adds about 25% to the heating capacity of your smoker.  I've been doing this for several years without any adverse effect on the puck burner.


Offline MDsmoker

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Re: Edumacate me.....
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2017, 04:50:08 am »
Never thought of running the puck burner empty.....I will try all the suggestions on my next smoke and let you know how it turns out....thanks to all for the advice.