Hey foodie friends, for today’s post we’re happy to be partnering with our friends at Bradley Smoker.
Those who know me, know I love to bbq/grill! Our BBQ gets fired up year-round regardless of temperature, rain, snow or ice. I actually keep a shovel outside our back door on the deck so that I can shovel my way to the BBQ on those heavy snow days. It was kind of obvious that someday I would have to try my hand at smoking (smoking food, just to be clear). For the past couple of years, Liz and I have actually talked on and off about getting a smoker. I really needed to do my research before taking the leap.
One big question I had was whether to go with wood burning, propane or electric? For me personally, I have to have something that does a great job and is easy to use. As much as I love the idea and image of the old-school pit masters and their giant wood burning smokers (lots of respect to the pit masters), I don’t have time to monitor heat and smoke that closely for so many hours. I knew I needed something that would work easily with our busy family life.
I finally reached a decision; it would have to be the Bradley Smoker. This unit does everything I need and the reviews on this smoker are fantastic! We’re so thrilled to be working with Bradley on this post and a few upcoming smoking related posts. Stay tuned…more smoked goodness is coming your way!
We received the smoker in the middle of the week. For the tech geeks out there… you know the feeling of driving home with that new gadget in the car… and you can’t touch it yet because it’s boxed and it wouldn’t be safe to drive and open the box at the same time? I had that same feeling!
It was late when we got home on this day, so I only had time to unpack the smoker. I must say, by the way, that I was really impressed with the packaging. The unit was very well protected and packed nice and snug to avoid parts bouncing around in transit. It was easy to take the unit out of the box…but it was difficult for me to see it there in my dining room…knowing I wouldn’t get it outside to “play” (um…I mean work) with it that evening. Instead I had to settle for reading through some of the material before bed. It was a real page-turner for me…yes seriously! I was up a bit later than I should have been but I couldn’t resist. I was excited to start using the smoker and I had so many food ideas already running through my head :-). I knew this was the start of a very delicious partnership between me and my Bradley Smoker.
I was going to read up more on smoking before using my new smoker, but I just couldn’t resist! I got up Sunday morning and headed out to pick up some wings. At first I wasn’t sure what I wanted to experiment with, but a commercial on Saturday night TV convinced me it had to be wings!
Leah at Bradley sent me 5 types of wood bisquettes (little compressed wood pucks). I decided to try the hickory bisquettes for this recipe. For the wing sauce I decided to go with my own version of buffalo wing sauce. Have you ever been to the Anchor Bar in Buffalo? It’s where these wings are said to have been invented. If you haven’t, I suggest you add it to your bucket list! Buffalo wing sauce is tangy and has a nice bite. It’s one of my favourite sauces.
For a first smoking attempt, I was so thrilled with the results. I followed all the instructions. I seasoned the smoker (apparently the more you use the smoker, the better the flavours get). I loaded up the bisquettes, and then got the smoker to 200 ºF. Many people have different opinions on what that temperature should be. I decided to go low and slow. There was very little work involved. I greased up the racks, placed the spiced-up wings on them and put two full racks on the bottom two levels. The full cooking time was about 3 hours. This can vary depending on a few things: what you set the internal temperature to, the outside temperature, how many times you open the door, wind, etc. The folks that set their smokers between 225 ºF and 250 ºF seem to be done after 2ish hours.
I learned a few things along the way which I’ll likely change the next time I smoke wings and which could help others of you who are new to smoking:
- I smoked the wings the entire time. Looking back now, I probably would have cooked them for the last hour without smoke (meaning, not feeding more bisquettes). The smoke flavour wasn’t over-powering, but I could have used a little less. Nobody else at the table had this complaint, but I’d still make that change for next time.
- I rotated the racks about one hour into the cooking time. Since the wings cooked for 3 hours, the wings on the bottom rack were hotter for longer. The bottom wings were a touch on the dryer side (but still very good) while the wings above those were perfect. This was a rookie error that I’ll learn to adjust as I go.
- I loaded up 2 racks. In the future, I will load up each rack a little less to allow more smoke and heat to flow between the wings. I should have used the third rack. Live and learn!
I’m so happy with the Bradley Smoker so far. Even though it was my first time smoking food, the results were fantastic. The smoker is easy to use, it’s easy to clean (racks and trays are dishwasher safe) and it’s easy to store. We’ll be posting more recipes for the smoker in the near future, so stay tuned!
It’s patio season. Wings are perfect for summer afternoons, hanging out with friends on a patio, enjoying refreshing drinks and sharable finger foods!
Don’t be afraid to try a new cooking technique. Share your results with friends and family, and always eat well, friends!
- 4 Lbs medium size chicken wings trimmed
Dry chicken wing spices
- 1½ tsp salt
- 1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
- 3 tsp garlic powder
- 3 tsp paprika
- ½ cup butter
- 2 Tbsp flour
- 1 Tbsp apple cider vinegar
- ¼ cup white wine
- ¼ cup maple syrup
- ¾ cups Frank's hot sauce (or another mild hot sauce)
- Hickory wood bisquettes
- I used the Original Bradley Smoker for the recipe, so we'll be explaining the process for our smoker. For other smokers, just bring the temperature up to 200 ºF and prepare the wood for smoking as per your smoker instructions.
- Fill the water bowl to half with water.
- Load the feeder with enough bisquettes for about 2 hours of smoking (3 bisquettes per hour plus 2 to push the last few).
- Open the damper at the top about ½ way to release smoke.
- Turn on the smoke generator and preheat the bisquette burner for 20 minutes.
- Turn on the smoker and bring the temperature up to 200 ºF.
- While the smoker's heating up, prepare the dry rub. In a small bowl, whisk together the salt, black pepper, garlic powder and paprika.
- Sprinkle a light coating of the spice mix evenly over the wings on both sides.
- Place the wings on the smoker racks with a little space between each wing.
- Once the wings are all ready and the smoker is up to 200 ºF, quickly place the racks inside the smoker (lower shelves first). Note: do not keep the door open for long, to avoid cooling down the smoker.
- After about 1 hour and 20 minutes, switch the racks by placing the top wings on the bottom and move the bottom wings up. This is to ensure that all wings spend an equal amount of time close to the heat source at the bottom.
- Check the wings at 2½ hours for doneness (eat one). Ours were ready after 3 hours. Factors like wind, outdoor temperature and how many times you open the door can affect the cooking time.
- While the wings are smoking, prepare the wing sauce.
- In a medium size pan, melt the butter on medium heat.
- Sprinkle the flour over the butter and whisk vigorously until all the lumps are gone. Lower the heat a touch and keep whisking slowly for about 5 minutes. The butter and flour mixture should start to darken a little and develop a nutty smell. This is a light roux to help thicken the sauce.
- Add the apple cider, white wine, maple syrup and Frank's hot sauce.
- Whisk until it starts to boil and remove from the heat. Set the sauce aside until the wings are ready.
- Once the wings are ready, place them in a very large bowl, add the sauce and toss to coat all the wings. Place the wings on your favourite platter and serve immediately.