Over the years, as I have used my Bradley Smoker, there are a number of friends and family who have taken the plunge and purchased a Bradley for themselves. It is hard to resist coming over for a BBQ and tasting some smoked ribs, jalapeno poppers or chicken wings and not be lured to the local store to grab your own smoker. It is common for people to ask me many questions in those first few months of learning the ins and outs of smoking. Probably one of the most common questions I get asked, is about cleaning the smoker. So, I thought I would write this article up to share how I clean my smoker and its many parts.
It is important to scrub these racks after every smoke. Sometimes food can stick to the rack after a smoke and there is usually a buildup of black smoke residue on the steel racks as well. Simply wash in hot soapy water and scrub those racks clean. Depending on the buildup, I just throw them in the dishwasher and they are cleaned right up. Other times, they require a little more work and I pull out the scrub brush to get them clean. Using the Bradley Magic Mats will make your life a lot easier since the racks won’t get that dirty.
The Drip Bowl
Ok, I will be the first to admit that there are times that I leave the bowl full of burned bisquettes and water after a smoke. I mean, it is easy to forget to clean it out after a smoking all that awesome food. You are eating, visiting with friends, it gets into the evening and before bed, you put the cover on your smoker. Then, maybe a week goes by, you want to smoke something, and you open the door to discover the bowl is full of water, charred bisquettes – oops!
While I like to clean the bowl out after every smoke, if it was left uncleaned, simply dump the contents and wash the stainless steel bowl in hot soapy water. Then it is ready for the next smoke!
The V Shaped Drip Tray
This slotted drip tray that covers the bisquette burner and drip bowl is probably the part of the smoker that gets the most junk on it. Anything that drips from the food being smoked, falls onto this tray and wow after smoking ribs, chicken or pork belly, the tray can be a mess! Even though it can have a lot of junk built up after just one smoke, it is actually quite easy to clean. I wait until the smoker is completely cooled and I remove the tray. Then, using a grill/bbq scraper and scrub brush, I scrape all the junk into a bag and scrub it clean. If needed, washing the tray in hot soapy water can get it looking almost new again! I try to clean it after each smoke, especially if a lot or drippings fell on the tray.
The Seals of the Door
Running the smoker causes a lot of smoke residue to collect on the door and, over time, the seal of the door can get some gunk built up on it. It is not a big deal at all, but it can cause the door to stick a little bit. I find that after a few long smokes, the seals on the door need a quick clean. This is done by using a wash cloth and warm soapy water. Just wipe down the door seals and the frame of the smoker where they seals of the door touch. Cleaning these spots will keep the door opening and closing smoothly.
The Bisquette Burner
Over time, I have found that the bisquette burner can get some ash build up. I smoke a lot and it does not happen often, but I notice it when the bisquettes do not burn through as much as they should. If the burner gets ash build up, it seems to reduce the heat transfer to the fresh bisquettes and you may look in your drip bowl to find the bisquettes only 2/3 burned. Cleaning the burner is very easy to do. Make sure that the burner is cool and remove the V Shaped Drip Tray so that you have lots of room. Then, on the base of the bisquette burner, use a tool to scrape any residual ash off. While a grill/bbq scraper works, I personally use an old flat head screwdriver as I find it is small enough to get in the corner spots of the burner. Works like a charm for me.
The Smoker Walls
This is the one part of the smoker that I try to never clean. I love seeing the black smoke residue all over the walls of my smoker. It shows that it is used a lot and I feel that this ‘seasoning’ of the smoker will also enhance the flavour of whatever is cooked in the machine. Now, over time, there may be a bit of flaking and I simply scrape any of the black flakes off the smoker walls. Other than that, there is nothing else I do. I have never washed or scrubbed my smoker walls clean. That would take away all of the character from my smoker!