The Minion Method
Here’s my version of the popular “Minion Method” of lighting the barbecue. A technique for when you plan a long slow cook and want to get as much out of one load of charcoal as possible without needing to light a new batch mid way through a cooking session. I’m using the Minion Method to light a Weber Smokey Mountain – a water smoker for low & slow barbecue cooking. In a future post I’ll talk more about this barbecue model.
The technique is really easy. Simply fill a chimney starter full of charcoal, and place in the middle of the charcoal chamber. Light the coals in the chimney starter, then place more coals around the chimney starter into the base of the charcoal chamber.
Wait for the coals in the chimney starter to be fully engaged. You’ll know it’s ready when the coals at the top are turning white and the flames have died down. This should take about 20 minutes if using lumpwood charcoal or 30 minutes if using briquettes. When the coals are ready, simply lift out the chimney starter and carefully pour the red hot coals into the space vacated by the chimney and over the rest of the unlit coals. This creates a hot zone in the middle of the charcoal chamber surrounded by a ring of unlit coals.
Give the hot coals a few more minutes to settle into the charcoal chamber, before assembling the body of the Weber Smokey Mountain.
The advantage of this method is that it allows you to control the temperature of the cooker more effectively by preventing a heat surge at the initial stages when the coals are red hot. This can happen if all the coals are lit at once. The coals last longer as the outer ring is gradually ignited by the hot central coals.
Remember, this method is only used for low and slow cooking, not direct grilling. The intention is get as long out of the charcoal as possible. With the minion method, I got once got 14 hours of cooking out of my Weber Smokey Mountain!