Smoking good Christmas gift

What would Christmas be without Christmas shopping – other than a time of peace, appreciation and reflection.

What would Christmas be without Christmas shopping – other than a time of peace, appreciation and reflection.

Although, if the truth be told, I too get caught up in the commercialization of Christmas.

Over the years, I have bought a number of, well, let’s just say fairly expensive Christmas gifts – mostly for others, but in one or two cases for myself – in part, because, like I said, they were relatively expensive, and because I also don’t think anyone should ever feel obligated to spend a lot of money  just because it’s Christmas.

One such gift that I purchased for myself was a Bradley Smoker. I have enjoyed it ever since.

The Bradley Smoker Company, so the story goes, got its start the day Ted Bradley met up with a fellow angler who, as it happened, wasn’t all that knowledgable about salmon fishing. However, this fellow really knew his stuff when it came to smoking foods. The two struck up a deal. Bradley agreed to teach the angler how to catch salmon and, in return, the fellow would teach Bradley how to smoke salmon.

The fellow gave Bradley some smoker recipes and told him that the secret to food smoking was in controlling the smoke, plain and simple.

Back then, that meant constantly attending to the sawdust, never allowing the heat being generated by the burning sawdust to get too high and, most importantly, never letting the wood burn down to ash.

With this simple principle firmly entrenched in his mind, Bradley set out to make a food smoker that did just what the fellow said had to be done – control the smoke. He first used a bread riser for the smoke house, an old cast-iron frying pan to hold the sawdust and a hot plate to generate the smoke. In time he would eventually call upon the expertise of his brother who, as it turned out, had a lot of free time on his hands to do little more than watch smoke rise from a smoker. And, as it turned out, he was also a pretty good inventor.

Together, the two brothers set out to make a smoker that would produce clean, continuous smoke without the need for constant attention. They tried everything to control the burning of sawdust. They even studied how different types of sawdust burned, as well as a number of gizmos and gadgets that accomplished exactly nothing until they finally went back to the beginning and decided the best sawdust for making smoke was cube cut –not too fine.

Thus, the Bradley smoking bisquette came into being. The size, shape and density was critical. It worked because it created smoke cleanly, did not burn down to an ash and needed very little heat to create smoke. And, most important, it could be easily extinguished.

They then turned their attention to developing the smoke house. The hot plate was replaced with a very low heating element, the frying pan was replaced with an elaborate feed system to continuously feed the bisquettes to the heat element. Instead of stopping the process to remove the spent sawdust, they included a water bath to extinguish the bisquettes, and a secondary heating element to control the temperature of the smokehouse.

All in all, it is one fine smoker, and I don’t mind saying it was a pretty good choice for a gift  – even if it was for me. Not that the cost of a gift is any indication or reflection upon the quality of a gift (I have received a lot of very special and wonderful gifts that cost next to nothing), but I do know that anyone who enjoys smoking their own food would certainly appreciate what many would say is the finest smoker one can buy.

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