newbie...where did i go wrong???

Started by nwcove, April 15, 2014, 04:30:57 PM

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did my first smoke with my bradley, three racks of ribs following the 3-2-1 method. outdoor temp was about 10c, with light wind.  had a hard time getting up to temperature, so i closed the draft for about an hour.  ribs were good.....except they were blackened on the bottoms....not burnt black, just smokey black???.  any thoughts or experiences would be greatly appreciated!!!



Nwcove, I know this seems counter intuitive, but you need to leave your vent at least partially open, pretty much regardless.  Many forum members use a rule of thumb to keep the vent at least half way open.  A closed vent traps moisture that the meat is releasing as it cooks inside the smoker.  The moisture absorbs a lot of heat and keeps your smoker from reaching the temp you set.  A closed vent also causes sooty deposits on the meat, affecting the flavor (you don't need to ask why I know this).  And, last but not least, a closed vent can cause smoke to back up though your smoker generator and may cause damage to the smoke generator.

I think the real cause of the heating challenges you experienced are two fold.  Wind, even a light wind seems to just suck the heat out of a Bradley.  I don't know just why, but suspect that it could be the arrangement of the vent, because sheltering the smoker, and especially the vent from the wind helps a lot. 

Another factor is that the Bradley was designed as a low temperature smoker.  As such, it only has a 500 watt heating element.  Not a problem with smoking as you can easily cold smoke at less than 100F (one of the appeals of a Bradley).  But, when you're trying to also use your smoker as a cooker, 500 watts of heating capacity can leave a bit to be desired.  The good news is forum members have developed a variety of techniques to help improve the cooking ability of their smokers.  First, leave your puck burner running after the smoking phase of your cook.  It doesn't hurt the puck burner and the puck burner adds about 25% to the heating capacity of your Bradley.  Second, use boiling or close to boiling water in your puck bowl.  That way, the Bradley isn't trying to heat the water in addition to cooking the meat.  Third, many forum members keep a heat sink (a foil wrapped brick or two) in the bottom of their smoker.  The brick warms up when they preheat their smoker, and then releases heat when the cold meat is added to the smoker.  A heat sink also speeds up heat recovery after you have opened the door of your smoker.  A fourth technique is to preheat your smoker to about 25 degrees above your planned smoking temperature.  This makes more heat available for transfer to the cold meat, when you add it to your smoker.  The temperature is reset to your desired cooking temperature when the meat is put in the smoker.  A fifth approach can be to smoke in your smoker, then move the meat to your home oven to finish cooking.  This technique is sometimes used to shorten the cooking time when smoking/cooking large quantities of meat.  I've used this approach when smoking 30 pounds of pulled pork.  And last, remember, Grasshopper, that patience is a virtue.  With a Bradley it's low and slow, and sometimes the emphasis seems to be on slow.  But, it does eventually get there.  And most often in a very delicious form.

Hope this helps a bit.  Your Bradley is a great food preparation tool.  It just takes a little practice to learn how to use it and to learn what to expect from it.


nwcove, welcome to the forums from South Dakota! tskeeter gave you excellent advice, which is something you will soon discover about these forums. Lots of experience and lots of people who are more than happy to answer any question you ask. So have fun, ask any questions you may have, and take pictures. We love pictures!
Where there's smoke, there's HAPPINESS!!!

Saber 4


guess im on a major learning curve!!  glad there is lotsa help here.

nova scotia


Welcome fellow canuck! I used to have relatives in antigonish, beauty country out there!

Tskeeter is spot on with those tips.   I usually pre-heat at 280F and try to keep it out of the wind also.

Good luck!
Proud member of PETA:  People Eating Tasty Animals.  :)


welcome aboard... they  have  set you  stright


Tskeeter has you headed in the right direction.


thanks for all the help!! nice friendly forum!!  i will try another smoke this weekend if the weather is good!!


seb bot

Welcome from the West Coast, hope you enjoy your new smoker!

Hopefully the weather will work out and you can give it another go this weekend :)