The key to good getting the most out of your smoker is by mastering low and slow cooking.
But keeping temperature fluctuations under control isn't easy, and can make or break the success of your cooking.
Thankfully we have the minion method. It's a smoking technique that we can use to easily control our smoker, and keep good and stable cooking temperatures going for hours.
What is the Minion Method?
Jim Minion, a BBQ competitor, originally invented this method. It’s basically putting unlit charcoal and a few wood chunks in the fire box and adding hot charcoals on top. The lit charcoal lights the unlit charcoal and wood underneath, and this gives you a long cook time with steady temperatures and delicious smoke. There are two configurations that are most often used.
This method involves covering the bottom of the firebox grate with charcoal in the shape of a donut and burying several wood chunks in the charcoal. After this, hot charcoal is added to the center of the donut. The lit charcoal slowly lights the unlit charcoal and wood chunks, and the fire provides consistent heat and smoke over a long period of time. You should aim for a two to one ratio of unlit coals to lit coals, so you’ll have twice as many unlit ones when you first start smoking.
Another configuration is to arrange charcoal and wood chunks on the bottom of the firebox grate, then pour hot coals on top of the unlit ones. The same process occurs; the lit coals will light the unlit coals and wood, producing steady heat, smoke, and a long burn.
The Minion method can cause the formation of lots of ash, so keep an eye on your damper to make sure it doesn’t clog up and put out the fire. I recommend natural briquettes for the Minion method. They don’t have many fillers, so ash is minimized. They also burn cooler than lump charcoal, making it easier to keep the temperature low.