I might have mentioned in a previous post that hubby got a Bradley Smoker for his Father’s Day present back in June. Well deserved, I might add. One reason he got it was so that we could try smoking our own pork – hocks, bacon, etc. but the pigs were still pretty small back in June, and in the meantime, it turned out to be very handy at our larger barbeque gatherings, since it is also an oven – not only did he cook the sausages in it for the barbeque we had on Labor Day weekend, but it is was also great entertainment, because most people thought it was a weird kind of beer fridge and kept opening it and getting a surprise.
I have to tell you, Bradley Smokers are like the microwaves of the smoker world. You punch buttons on the digital face to set how long you’re smoking your meat, you can set the oven temperature if you want heat with the smoke, you drop a stack of little round wood chip pucks into the wood chip puck holder thingy, fill the bowl that sits inside with water (there’s a little tray at the bottom of the stack that moves the pucks along inside while they’re burning/smoking – they fall of the end of it into the little bowl of water and stop burning). That’s it. No further involvement required from you, the cook. On the other hand, you can sit and watch it if you like - it has a digital flame display to liven things up :). The little pucks look remarkably like small rice cakes, and come in boxes that look much like cracker boxes, not helped by the fact that they also come in flavours – apple wood, cherry, hickory etc – I was tempted to leave them casually lying around at the barbeque, but hubby didn’t want them wasted…
I poke a lot of fun at this toy of his, but I shouldn’t, because I sure appreciate the wonderful things he’s produced so far: smoked gouda, smoked cheddar, smoked salmon, salmon candy, and now - smoked pork hocks and bacon!
Because, yes – our pork is ready at the processor. We got some belly, a jowl and a couple of hocks fresh last week when they started the cutting, and brought them home to brine or cure ourselves prior to smoking them. We followed the instructions in “Charcuterie” by Michael Ruhlman, our favourite choice from a wide selection of books on smoking and curing available from our library.
The pork hocks took about 3 and 4 hours (one was bigger than the other). The bacon (belly and jowl)took about the same length of time, and he did it on a separate day. He had brined the pork hocks for a week, and the bacon was cured for a week. We have cut the finished bacon slabs into 1 lb pieces to freeze, and look forward to doing a taste test when the bacon from the processor arrives tomorrow. I don’t know if I can wait that long!