Question about the minion method?

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SheffSmoker
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Question about the minion method?

Post by SheffSmoker » July 14th, 2020, 8:39 am

Hi all,

So I'm just starting out in the world of smoking as you may have seen from my el cheapo build. What's got me wondering though is about keeping a bed of charcoal for longer cooks?

Seen the minion method, but surely as the new coals catch and start to burn they will be afire and producing acrid smoke? Or am I missing something?

Got a cook planned today and think I will just start extra outside the smoker then add it once white.



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Re: Question about the minion method?

Post by Dirtytires » July 14th, 2020, 11:16 am

I smoked for years on a cheap offset and used charcoal as my primary fuel as it hated logs. I could get 5 hours out of a basket and pretty constant heat...no bad smoke or flavor either.

First, I use lump charcoal as it doesn’t have the binders and coal dust of compressed briquettes. Also burns cleaner so less dust to clog up the basket. I built a normal square basket out of expanded metal making it as big as would fit in my firebox. I never messed with a mouse-maze as I didn’t need it but hey seem to make sense if you want to experiment with it.

Now, just completely fill the basket with unlit charcoal and dump a full chimney of lit coals on top. Shut your door, close down all your air vents and give the pit an hour to come up to temp. Adjust the air vents just a little at a time and be patient as temps will take a while to adjust.

Something to remember is you have to retard the fire from the very start. If you give it too much air to get it up to temp, it will ignite the whole basket and you cannot decrease the heat at that point as your fire is a runaway. Keep it small, be patient and the temp will even out and slowly ignite new coals to maintain the steady temp.

As a side note, I have found that adding new charcoal on top of this produces bad smoke so once the basket is burned down, I just pulled it, replaced it with my second basked and dumped the first basket on top to light it.



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Re: Question about the minion method?

Post by towtruck » July 14th, 2020, 12:46 pm

I light two chimneys of briquettes and get them going about 50% and dump them in my fire box. That gets my pit up to temp in an hour. I run that bed of coals for another two hours then add a 3/4 chimney that is 50% lit.....I then monitor fuel usage and add 3/4 chimney as needed. When I add a new batch I get a small amount of white smoke for a very short time. It has no effect on taste.

I have also started adding my meat into the pit as soon as I am getting thin blue smoke. I no longer wait until the pit is up to temp to add meat. Once that smoke is ready the meat goes on....I let it all come up to temp together.



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Re: Question about the minion method?

Post by SheffSmoker » July 15th, 2020, 5:59 am

Thanks both. Seems like the top down method is a winner then. :)



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Re: Question about the minion method?

Post by Dirtytires » July 15th, 2020, 10:28 am

Experiment with it and keep it small(air intake open only a crack). Extremely easy to get fire too big and darn near Impossible to get it back to manageable. Good luck and PM me if you need it.



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Re: Question about the minion method?

Post by towtruck » July 15th, 2020, 12:58 pm

Something I'll add....Cooks Country cooked 500 pounds of brisket perfecting a minion method of smoking a brisket on a Webber kettle.

Because of the relative small size of the cook chamber it can work. They used 115 briquettes to form a horse shoe two briquettes wide and two high around the edge of the kettle leaving an opening on one end. They then placed a water pan in the center of the charcoal snake. Using ten lit briquettes they lit one end of the snake only. With the bottom vents open fully and the top vent open they placed the brisket in the kettle with the big end facing the opening in the briquettes. They put the lid on with the vent over the gap in charcoal. Once the meat reached 160* they pulled it and wrapped it in foil. The snake was about 3/4 burned. They then added a few more unlit charcoal around to fill in the gap in the snake and ensure enough coals were there to get the meat to 205*. They then placed the meat in a cooler for three hours before serving.

They used 12 pound briskets and did place five small chunks of wood on top of the snake spaced out to give off a little more smoke during the cook.

I want to try this in my BBQ just for fun and see how it works.



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Re: Question about the minion method?

Post by Brisket Envy » August 14th, 2020, 4:01 pm

I had a vertical smoker with a fire basket about 22” square, and I would lay a 20” split in it, with charcoal surrounding it on three sides, light one end of the “U”, and allow the fire to work it’s way around the hardwood split, consuming it as it went, and always had a very predictable fire, with plenty of real wood smoke, for perfect briskets.
I generally used 11 to 12 lb briskets, and very rarely had to add charcoal. Sometimes toward the end of a 12 hour cook, I would open the firebox, slide the basket out a bit, and rake the remaining coals into a more concentrated area.



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Re: Question about the minion method?

Post by dacolson » August 16th, 2020, 8:22 pm

Hey Sheffsmoker - great info here. I used charcoal for years on a Weber w the snake method then on the big green egg. The common thread with all of these is air flow. That’s the beauty of charcoal. You can maintain low temps and slow the burn process by restricting airflow without creating bad smoke or killing your fire. You can’t do that with wood alone. Like Dirtytires says, you have to keep the temp down. If it gets too hot too fast, you’ll lose control and burn up your whole basket. I really like cooking w charcoal. There are some foods that I want to grill but just want a little smoke on. Charcoal is great for that. Baking bread for example. Or hot dish (casserole/meat pies/etc). All great over charcoal. You can do them in your smoker w charcoal for heat. Tons of fun messing around that way.


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