Frequently Posted Questions (FPQ)
"What is the Minion Method?"
The "Minion Method" of cooking on a Weber Smokey Mountain Smoker is truly an FPQ.
In order to answer this FPQ I had to dig back through the archives of the BBQ Forum to find that time when Jim Minion first told us about the "Minion Method" My search uncovered the first post Jim made to the BBQ Forum.
Posted by Jim Minion on July 14, 1998 at 10:47:17:
Pork is leaner now than ever so you need supply
moisture. Spraying or mopping is needed. Bluesmoke is right.
Later on I found a post where Jim talked about the smoker he was using at that time.
Posted by Jim Minion on December 04, 1998 at 04:26:39:
I cook on a Klose offset cooker. It's made of
1/4" steel and that makes all the difference in keeping a steady temp.
Also have cooked on Ok Joes made with 1/4" steel, and it also does a good job.
Thickness of metal and quality of construction will make cooking in cold and windy weather much easier.
I later on found a post that Jim made where he made a strong statement
Posted by Jim Minion on March 11, 1999 at 17:54:29:
In Reply to: Verfy, very funny Q Relted posted by Kastnelos on March 11, 1999 at 10:22:36:
Then in Archive #53 I found what I was looking for. The post where he first mentioned the minion method. Finding this post was like reading the Da Vinci Code all over again.
Posted by Jim Minion on June 18, 1999 at 11:03:29:
In Reply to: Mixed results with WSM posted by SC Que on June 18, 1999 at 10:37:29:
Sounds like the charcoal you used may have been the
Use a good quality charcoal and I find that you want to start
with aprox 10 lbs in the ring. Either put lit coals in and the
unlit charcoal on top or go the other way. I have done both and
have gotten good results either way. Other than adding water
every 3 1/2 to 5 hours it seems to cruise.
Jim then clarified the method with another post in the same thread
Posted by Jim Minion on June 18, 1999 at 12:50:23:
One thing is there are time that I probably won't
use 10# of charcoal
but when your done cooking close down the vents top and bottom and
it puts out the fire and I can use the unburned charcoal the next cook.
It's easier than trying to load charcoal darning the cook.
Hope this helps?
The object is to let burning charcoal light unlit
the cook. If you all or most of the charcoal is going at the very beginning the temps will soar.
Three months went by and Chris had a question to ask JimPosted by ChrisA on September 07, 1999 at 15:15:22:
A while back, someone posted a message comparing the taste of meat cooked using the fire-up method you recommend vs. the traditional method, but I can't find it now. Did you post that message? If so, would you please summarize the results again? Can a difference in taste be detected between the two methods?
I have not yet tried your method and it sounds like it works great for you and others. It does run counter to the "conventional wisdom" that all coals should be lit and covered with gray ash before cooking begins. On the other hand, I know the Jedmaster uses its "racetrack" configuration to ignite charcoal over a long period of time, and it makes kick-ass BBQ, so maybe "conventional wisdom" is wrong.
Not trying to pick a fight here, just trying to learn all I can about different methods. Thanks in advance for your reply.
I agree the method does go against what most would say is the
right way to use charcoal. But as they say proof is in the pudding.
Using this method myself and others are turning out product that's
taking top places in competitions. I know this will not sit to well
with some but Kingsford works extremely well. Two years ago 1st place ribs at the Royal were cooked using this method and Kingsford.
The fire control is outstanding with this method and the burns
last for 10 to 18 hours depending on the outside temps.
The idea is to load 10 to 11 pounds of charcoal in the ring unlit,
then add 15 to 20 lit pieces and spread them over the unlit charcoal.
You will have stir the coals 6 to 10 hours into the burn and depending on the outside weather add charcoal late in the burn.
I find that a starting with a full ring works the best, if you are
cooking chicken or ribs you can close down all the vents at the end of the cook and the charcoal will go out. I use that charcoal for the
The water pan will need to filled periodically.
Lump charcoal will burn hotter and faster meaning you will have to add coals more often and the average cook temp will be higher.
Hope this helps
Thanks so much for your detailed response. You're absolutely right, the proof is in the puddin'. I'm definitely going to give your method a try based on your message.
RE: Kingsford, I'm back on Kingsford now that Nature-Glo is no longer available here in Northern California and finding that I really enjoy the long, consistent burn it gives.
Posted by Big Bear on September 07, 1999 at 16:30:46:
I didn't post that but I've tried the method the
last two weekends. First of all, I use Steakhouse charcoal which claims to be
100% hard wood. It is a briquet. I tried chicken last weekend and ribs this
weekend. I could tell no difference in the taste of the meat. I expected to but
I didn't. I had to adjust the vents about an hour after I started and that was
it. I took the ribs off after 5 hours and let the cooker continue to run. After
12 hours, the temp was about 200 (it had been 250) and jumped right back up
after I stirred the fire. At 14 hours I finally took it apart and let it burn
down. It looked like it should have gone at least 2 more hours, maybe more. I
used to only get about 12 hours at the most and sometimes needed to had some at
about 10 hours. I will be using this method from now on.
--------------------Posted by JIm Minion on September 07, 1999 at 20:31:43:
In Reply to: Minion Method on WSM posted by Big Bear on September 07, 1999 at 16:30:46:
Just close down the vents and save the unburned
coals for next cook.
This all has been summed up four years later after the historic post was made. It's just about what Jim posted.
Posted by Q.N.E. tyme on October 15, 2003 at 15:41:25:
Fill ring with charcoal... Add a few hot coals to top...
Didnt take too long...
But don't forget this great post by Juggy in 1999Posted by Juggy on November 28, 1999 at 11:19:03:
Yo Dylan: I have owned the unit 120 hours now. I have used it for two burns and a cheese melt. I want to cook another turkey as son #1 said the 10 lb bird is now gone. I froze most of the dark meat and all the skin as I will use it later for turkey and noodles. I let the skin and meat come to a boil and simmer. You would be surprised on how much smoke flavor goes into the noodles. I cook the noodles separately from the meat and skin and then add them (strained) to the meat and water solution. This stock will also work with a rice and vegetable mixture for soup. You may add chicken/turkey bouillon cubes to the broth, but be careful. Too many can "hide" the smoke flavor of your stock.
So to answer your question. The first time I used it was Wednesday evening. I filled the ring up with Kingsford and added a chimney-full of hot coals on top of the unlit charcoal in the ring. (The good ol' Minion method) I added two fist sized chunks of apple and one hickory. I placed the turkey on the bottom shelf and the chicken and ribs on the top. The temperature in KC was about 25F. I felt like I was test driving a new car and when I do that I don't just drive 55 mph. I gotta floor it and see what this baby can do. So I let the the air vents wide open and the temp held right at 300F for two hours. This was hotter than I wanted to cook the ribs, but I was just test driving. I took the ribs of at two hours time and the temp held at 290F for the next hour. At this time I took the whole chicken off and moved the turkey to the top grate. After this I adjusted the two air vents facing the wind so that they were half-open (or if you prefer - half closed). I did not adjust the other air vent. The temperature of 270F was maintained for another 4 hours. I got a seven hour high temp burn and I took the lid off a lot more than recommended, but I was test driving. Besides, after using the kettle for twenty years some habits die hard. After seven hours the temp started to fade fast. I know I can get a much longer burn at a lower temp.
The next day I cooked the pork roast (7.5 lbs). I used half a ring full of unlit charcoal, a chimney full of lit charcoal and the same amount of wood chunks. I put the roast on the top rack. Once an hour I came out and turned and basted the roast. I held the temp at 270F for 3 hours. The outside temperature was in the 50s with little wind. After three hours, the roast hit an internal temp of 145F, I removed it from the grill and wrapped it in foil to hold temp until ready to serve. I shut the all the bottom air vents down and left the top vent open. The unit held a temp of 250 for 4 more hours. After that the temp quickly went down. I do not know if I can cook a whole shoulder in there or not, but if Mike Scrutchfield can cook a whole hog in one, I am sure it can be done. I am going to try and cook a 13 lb crown roast this week. I plan on serving it in my Boolean Algebra class. The professor said he will not let me pass this class (which I need to graduate) until I park the big smoker on the Quadrangle of campus and serve him and the whole class ribs. I don't have enough clutch left in my Ford Ranger to do this. I think the presentation of a crown roast will appease him as I plan to carve the roast in class.
When that cheese recipe calls for three briquettes believe it! I added three more hot briquettes too soon and the cheese lost its shape but did not melt enough that it was ruined. I will do better next time! There is one thing that I do not like about the WSM. I always get another beer when I check my Weber kettles every 30 minutes. With this new unit, my excuse for beer consumption has been greatly reduced.......
Beers to you,
Juggy D Beerman
I personally use the Minion Method. However, I still believe I can taste the difference in charcoal burned this way over the traditional method of burning your charcoal to a white ash before cooking with it. I sure saves a lot of time and work using the Minion Method. But everyone's taste is different. I know of one famous cook that says he uses charcoal starter.
What I really prefer the following method of cooking on a WSM. I use Lump charcoal and when I need to add more I just add more lump. I like tending fires while I am cooking. If I wanted long unattended burns I would buy a pellet cooker. To make it easier to add more lump I have an invention to make it easy. I can't seem to toss the additional lump in the small target and get it in the fire. More lump seems to wind up on the ground around the WSM then in the fire. So I stick this V shaped piece of flashing into the WSM and slide the lump down it.
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