Minion Method

If you have been smoking for longer, you must try the minion method. If not, then at least you have listened to it. But if you are a beginner, then this method is the best for you. In this, the hot coals burn slowly to produce stable, long-lasting smoking that is perfect for meat.

Minion is the best technique for lighting up burning coals. In this method, the smoking fuel lasts long. Many people use wood chunks for smoke and charcoal briquettes for heat. Lump charcoal also works well, but it requires little carefulness.

What Is The Minion Method?

This method is helpful for slow and low cooking and is also known as the modified minion method. The technique has proved most effective on the Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker. This method enables you to cook your meat for several hours without buying additional charcoal. 

This is a slow method used for cooking fatter and large-sized meat, especially for pork ribs, briskets, and shoulders. Many pitmasters have assured that this technique will give better results if cooked properly. This process will not take more than 8 to 12 hours.

First, you have to make a circle of about 2kg briquettes around your charcoal grate and then keep 1 kg of lit briquettes in the center of the ring. It means that these lit briquettes will ignite the other briquettes. You can then soak wood chunks to create a smokey flavor.

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Why Is Minion Method Ideal For Low And Slow Cooking?

Jim Minion created this method to gain speed in barbeque competitions. He filled his new Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker with briquettes and placed a few hot coals at the top. To control the airflow, you have to use the bottom vents.

Jim keeps the temperature between 225-250 degrees Fahrenheit, and the process takes 18 hours. The striking benefit of this method is it lets you cook low and slow. It enables you to set and forget your smoke without worrying about it.

Pros

  • It can be utilized for night smoking.
  • There is no need to refuel
  • Smoking can start in just 20-30 minutes.
  • The “Set and Forget” feature can help eliminate checking your smoker after a while.
  • Suitable for slow and low smoking

Cons

  • The flavor of meat has been attributed to charcoal briquettes by some people.
  • It takes a lot of time, so it is not perfect for cooking at more than 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

Will The Minion Method Work With All Smokers Or Grills?

This method of setting up fire has been proven in the BBQ competition and has been guaranteed by several smokers and grillers. In this method, the meat is placed away from the coals to avoid direct steak, which is an excellent method for smokers and grillers.

The technique is excellent for those who want to grill on a smaller scale, so you can use it by creating a 2-zone fire. Set your coals on any grill side and place the meat opposite to it to achieve indirect heat. Small grills need more fuel resulting in longer cooking times and heat loss.

Another critical factor is the air-tightness of your grill. If your offset smoker has many leaks, there will be more fuel consumption because a lot of heat will be wasted. The larger the capacity, the less often you will have to “reload.” You can relax and spend less time tending the fire.

With the drum-like smoker, you get long-lasting and efficient smoking. A smoker has a large enough grate so the food can be seated on it without being over the coals or has some setup with heat deflectors. But, it will be more efficient for smaller grills.

What Fuel Will Be Good for the Minion Method? Lump or Briquettes?

There is no uniform size of the lump charcoal as it is a natural product. It does not matter what fuel you use, as you can use any of them. You need to buy the lump charcoal more than the briquettes because they burn hotter and faster, so you will have to replenish them repeatedly. You can also made your own DIY lump charcoal for this purpose.

During grilling, it is necessary to pack them firmly so that the fire spreads quickly from one piece to another. You will need to fill them tightly to ensure they are in contact so that the fire applies from one coal to the other. Too many gaps in them can affect the consistency of heat.

On the other hand, briquettes burn evenly and are uniform in size because they have been processed. While using a minion will work best. Although, briquettes engender much ash and can encourage fire if not maintained properly. You can use any fuel, but always remember to check the temperature.

Four Easy Step For The Minion Method

This is an easy technique compared to other traditional Techniques. You can start and run your smoker in just 15 minutes.

Fill The Chamber With Unlit Briquettes

Follow these steps to fill the chamber with unlit briquettes:

  • Create a deep layer and put unlit briquettes inside it.
  • After creating a deep layer, make a well to create space for the starter coals.
  • Now, place your favorite wood chunks on top of the briquettes. When the fire spreads, it will ignite the woods and produce smoke.
  • Open the air vents.
Fill-The-Chamber-With-Unlit-Briquettes

Light The Starter Briquettes

You can begin your charcoal or briquettes in a chimney in two ways. A charcoal chimney starter is the cleanest, quickest method of starting briquettes. Torch or lighter is the fastest yet most expensive way to do so.

The economical way is to put two sheets of paraffin cubes or newspaper below the chimney and set it alight. Using the grill, transfer the briquettes when they become grayish ash.

Light-The-Starter-Briquettes-3

Place The Lit Coals In The Center

Throw the hot coals in the place where you have made a doughnut or well. In this method, the briquettes ignite fewer of their neighbors at once, allowing a slower, longer burn.

You can make the perfect doughnut by utilizing a coffee can. If you want to make a hole in the grill or firebox, you need to place the coffee can without ends in the center of the grill. Now, place the briquettes near it. You have to put the lit briquettes in the box, then use a plier to remove them.

Light-The-Starter-Briquettes

Assemble Your Cooker

Grilling and smoking are generally part science and part art. In many cooking methods, you will need water throughout the whole process. The WSM contains a water pan beneath the first among a couple of grill shelves. Temperature regulation and moisture addition are its primary functions.

While some need little water and some do not need water. Depending upon the cooking style and type of meat, you will find what works best for you. After filling the container with boiling water, check the water level every two to four hours.

When starting, open all the vents, but the temperature reaches 200 degrees Fahrenheit, close top to about 50% and bottom to about 25%. It’s time to regulate the temperature by using only top vents.

When the temperature reaches 215-220 degrees Fahrenheit, turn down the top vents to 25%. If the temperature continues to increase, close the top vents, but if the temperature remains below 225 degrees Fahrenheit, keep them open.

To ensure the cooker settles to the new temperature after any vent setting change, adjust the top vent in 1/8th increments or fewer. If you add more briquettes to your grill, use a chimney starter to keep them lit. Before adding, make sure that they are about 50% ash.

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Will Using Unlit Briquettes Affect The Taste?

Lump charcoal is wood that mostly leaves carbon when burned without oxygen. It is an unprocessed, natural product. On the other hand, a briquette takes the carbon one step further by mixing it with other materials like borax, cornstarch, limestone, and coal.

They are pressed into equal sizes to burn evenly and with complete consistency. All of them are natural products, but some say that the flavor of your meat will be affected if these ingredients burn while grilling.

But all the lump charcoal debaters have agreed that they never use pre-soaked or lighter fluid briquettes. It is a matter of personal preference whether one uses the Minion method or the Oxygen method to keep a fire going. Because your barbeque food will get ruined as the fluids can impart a chemical taste to the food.

Popular Variations Of The Minion Method?

After Jim’s invention, many pitmasters adopted this method and changed it according to their needs. The few variations of this are the following:

Soo’s Donut

Soo’s Donut uses the same method, but the only changes are:

  • Dig a hole in the center that will be 8 inches wide instead of the well.
  • Instead of keeping the wood chunks on top of unlit charcoal, bury them in different areas other than the center. A donut will be formed.

The Fuse

It is suitable for those who have large smokers or cookers because it is hotter. You can keep the temperature down by the Fuse method. It is the best way to set up a kettle grill. Let us discuss how it works.

  • Build Soo’s Donut using charcoal, and place a holder to avoid the coals from falling into the hole. Rock will work fine
  • Create a C-shaped by eliminating the 8-inch area
  • Remove the placeholder from the center
  • Place the wood chunks on the top of the C-shape in the form of the line
  • Fill the chimney starter half and engage the starter coals.
  • Put the lit coals on the end of the “C” shape.

The Pyramid

This method is much simpler, even than the standard minion method. I am placing a paraffin cube underneath the top coal in a pyramid of coals. The whole pyramid will get ignited after lit the top coal is. The method is slow to begin but very easy to handle.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

As I already described, this method is perfect for slow and low cooking. It will be easy to keep your temperature between 225 and 275 degrees Fahrenheit due to slow burning. It is not a good choice for burgers and steaks as they require high heat. The minion is best for indirect cooking, where the food is away from the fire.

It works for slow-style, prolonged smoking, and cooking where the food is not in contact with the heat and takes a long time. At the same time, high-heat smoking for grilling needs red-hot coals. Despite the intense heat, the coals burn out very quickly.

Jim started with the help of Weber Smokey Mountain Cooker, but it works well with every kind of smoker having a charcoal basket. Then adjust the leakage, airflow, and size according to the method. You only have to ensure that the coals are at the proper distance from the meat. 

Charcoal has proved to be the best fuel with this method. Burn your wood on the coal before starting cooking, and it is a prolonged process. When using wood chunks or logs, you must replenish them repeatedly.

Final Words

Smoking food is a skill, so after you have the minion method mastered, you can practice it by smoking your favorite foods. Lighting up the coals with this is not that hard. Here I have mentioned it in detail so you do not face any problems while lighting up the coals.


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