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Question on Minion method for smoking

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Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:12 pm
megman6 rare
rare

Posts: 49
I am glad to find this forum. Newbie here. I just got a Chargriller with side fire box. I read about the making of basket for minion method to prolong the heat. Here's my question, for the minion method, the idea is to have 3/4 of basket with unlid coal and then pour lit coal on top to start the smoking process. Don't they always say make sure all coals turn gray before start BBQ? Why do they want all coals to turn gray before BBQ? For minion method, this obviously not possible. Is the comment for coals to turn gray for heat purposes or health concern? If someone can clarify this confusion I have for a newbie would be great. Also, I assumed the lit coals on top will start lighting the unlit coals that come in contact with eventually and thus make the burning process longer and retains heat longer.

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:20 pm
wiseguy User avatar
medium-well
medium-well

Posts: 226
Location: New Jersey
I used the minion method before for long smokes with no problems or difference with flavor. My guess regarding waiting for all the coal to turn grey is for grilling purposes to achieve high heat.

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:23 pm
jmartis well done
well done

Posts: 595
Location: Austin, TX
Good question.

The idea of waiting for all coals to turn gray most likely stems from people who are using lighter fluid or quick light coals. The idea is to let all the lighter fluid or quick start chemicals burn off before throwing your food on. You should be using all natural briquettes or natural lump charcoal, which does not contain quick lighting chemicals. You should also be lighting your coals in a chimney starter, NOT LIGHTER FLUID. Do you have a chimney starter you can start some coals in to dump on top of your unlit coals?

So, use natural briquettes (or non quick start briquettes) or natural lump and light them without fluid in a chimney starter. Hope this helps!
Low n Slow - that is the tempo

Large Big Green Egg
CG Super Pro w/ SFB
I'm not religious, but God bless Texas BBQ!

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:31 pm
megman6 rare
rare

Posts: 49
Thanks jmartis. Yes, I have a chimney to light the coals in. So the follow up question is, will the lit coal slowly lighting the coals that they touch and thus start a domino effect? I will be trying this out as I need to season my grill anyway.

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:37 pm
jmartis well done
well done

Posts: 595
Location: Austin, TX
Yep, the idea is to have only enough fuel lit to get your cooker to smoking temps. As coals on top go out, the coals underneath light, thus keeping your temps at smoking range for a longer period. It is definitely an art and takes practice. Don't get discouraged and remember to only make small adjustments and allow time for your smoker to react to your changes.
Low n Slow - that is the tempo

Large Big Green Egg
CG Super Pro w/ SFB
I'm not religious, but God bless Texas BBQ!

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:41 pm
Kenny 13 well done
well done

Posts: 4051
Location: Belle Chasse, LA
megman6 wrote:
Thanks jmartis. Yes, I have a chimney to light the coals in. So the follow up question is, will the lit coal slowly lighting the coals that they touch and thus start a domino effect? I will be trying this out as I need to season my grill anyway.


Welcome to the forum! Yes, the lit coals touching the unlit ones will slowly cause them to light creating that domino effect. If you have trouble getting your coals to light using this method. it's usually an airflow problem caused by too much ash building up.

You may have to experiment with different brands of charcoal, as some produce more ash than others. Also, you may have to experiment with how you add your charcoal as well. I've never had a problem with just adding the lit coals right on top of the unlit in the basket, but I've also heard of others adding the lit to one side (usually closest to the main cooking chamber) and letting it burn across the side firebox.
Large Big Green Egg

What's On The Grill?

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 3:56 pm
megman6 rare
rare

Posts: 49
Thanks guys. I will definitely experimenting with this method and make a 12x12 basket.

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 4:08 pm
rogerja well done
well done

Posts: 2288
Location: Central Ohio
Kingsford recommends letting the coals turn grey so the borax (used as a release agent in the briquette molds) is burned off. I've never had any issues doing the MM, though.

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 6:36 pm
megman6 rare
rare

Posts: 49
I just looked it up on google for this borax stuff. Doesn't the following concern anyone?

# If ingested, borax can poison the human body. Symptoms can appear in as little as two hours and include headache, fever, nausea, vomiting, and redness of the eyes. If someone you know has ingested borax, it is important to seek medical help immediately. If large amounts of borax have been consumed, there is a risk of kidney failure or death. The lethal dose for an adult is only 15 to 20 grams.

Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 8:10 pm
Vitalogy medium-rare
medium-rare

Posts: 78
Location: Lewisville, TX
I would say just don't eat the briquettes :wink:

In all seriousness though I've never seen that raised as a concern with charcoal briquettes. The carbon monoxide release would be the bigger concern, but just as long as you don't cook indoors then you're okay there. I would think similar to carbon monoxide that the fumes from the borax would only be lethal in an enclosed space. That's just a guess though and I have nothing to back that up.
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Post Mon Dec 13, 2010 9:00 pm
megman6 rare
rare

Posts: 49
Thanks all.

I just finished making the 12x12x6 charcoal box based on reading of the fire box mod. I was all excited and the thought of 12x12x6 never crossed my mind since so many people have made it out of the 24x24 stainless steel metal from Lows. Well guess what, it does not fit the side fire box. Well I can't close the lid and sticks out a bit. :( What went wrong? Are there different size of side fire box for chargriller? I didn't think so.

Post Tue Dec 14, 2010 6:47 am
jfm0830 well done
well done

Posts: 2638
Location: Northeastern MA

Kingsford is able to call their charcoal all natural even though it contains the borax. It is said to be a releasing agent to help them get the coals out of the moulds. I am speculating that is necessary for them because they have those v-groves moulded into the briquette. The additional surface area, which is aid to help during cooking, probably hurts when trying to get the briquette to release from the mould. More surface area and v-shapes equals more stickage.

Long way of saying there are other brands of natural hardwood briquettes that don't use borax. For example DuraFlame and a company here in New England called Wicked Good make all natural hardwood briquettes. I have used both and they make FAR LESS ash than the red bag Kingsford. I am using the red bag Kingsford in the Winter because it seems to light faster and get hotter faster than the other two. It also makes far more ash and doesn't last as long as the other two which is why I use it just for the Winter.

BTW you will need to give your basket a quick shake with some tongs at one or more points along the way. This will loosen any ash clinging to the coals and allow them to breath again. When it is time to refuel, I usually take some old long tongs and sweep the coals forward towards the opening to the main chamber and then refill the basket behind them. One thing to watch for with the all natural briquettes, including the red bag Kingsford is they will shrink down real tiny and still maintain temps, when you go to move them forward you may find they go "poof" and disintegrate in front of your eyes. You are left with no coals in the basket to help keep the fire going. You'll need to refuel before things get to this point. When I used to use the blue bag Kingsford it seem to start slowly loosing heat about 1 hour before it got to that point and so you got advanced warning. The all natural stuff seems to burn to the bitter end before it starts dropping severely. Don't worry if this happens to you just light another chimney and use it to get the coals going.

I can't offer any help on the basket cause I use a different basket. If you look on the thread where you found the specifics of your basket, check to see if they are using something to hold it in a lower position than the grill grate. I know some folks take the grate out and use two rods to support the baskets. Perhaps this is the case with your basket.

Jim
2 Large BGEs
Kenmore Elite 6 Burner Gas Grill
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BBQ Site: http://grillinsmokin.net

Post Tue Dec 14, 2010 3:49 pm
megman6 rare
rare

Posts: 49
Thanks jfm0830. I just bought some Kingsford Competition charcoals. I will use them up and then buy the Duraflame with no chemical ones.

Post Tue Dec 14, 2010 5:56 pm
PhillyGriller medium
medium

Posts: 104
Location: NW Philly Suburbs
Duraflame?
Aren't they the company that makes the paraffin impregnated sawdust logs for the fireplace? Don't get me wrong, I have used them and they work great. It just seems odd that they would make an all-natural hardwood charcoal.
CG Trio
2x 22.5" Weber One-Touch Silver

Post Tue Dec 14, 2010 10:44 pm
jfm0830 well done
well done

Posts: 2638
Location: Northeastern MA

Same folks, different products. They sponsored several seasons of BBQU and it looks like SR still uses them on Primal Grill. It isn't available everywhere, but it is worth trying to find it. If not there are other 100% natural hardwood briquettes.

Image


Jim
Last edited by jfm0830 on Mon Feb 27, 2012 3:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.
2 Large BGEs
Kenmore Elite 6 Burner Gas Grill
Image
BBQ Site: http://grillinsmokin.net

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