if you own a Weber Smokey Mountain then you will want to know about the Minion Method. This method enables you to maintain a steady temperature of 225 – 250 degrees over a long period of time. This method is perfect for cooking larger cuts of meats like a brisket or a pork butt as it stops the outside of the meat from becoming dry and crusty whilst waiting for the inside to heat through.
To give credit where it’s due, the Method was devised in 1999 by a fleet manager called Jim Minion during a regional barbecue championship. After following the manufacture’s instructions his WSM shot up to 325 degrees, way too hot to cook on. Instead of fighting to bring the temperature down, he tried a different approach. By combining a layer of unlit briquettes with a few lit ones, he was able to keep a consistent temperature for a long period of time. He ended up winning one category and placing second in another and lo and behold the minion method was born!
Fill the charcoal basket of your smoker with briquettes. The more briquettes you add the longer the cook you will be able to achieve. If you fill the basket you should be able to achieve over 12 hours of slow cooking. You can use lump charcoal if you want, however, I found you get better results from briquettes as they all burn at the same rate.
Make a hole in the center of the briquettes. You need to get to the bottom of briquettes so the grate is visible. Essentially you need an even ring of charcoal around the outside with a small hole in the middle for the lit charcoal.
Light around 12 briquettes using a charcoal chimney starter. You can light fewer or more if you like, The fewer you light the longer it will take to get the temperature up to 225. If you like more than you may risk overshooting the temperature. I’ve found around 12 works best.
Place your wood chunks close to the hole. The wood chunks are going to flavour your meat. so choose whichever you need depending on the type of meat you’re smoking.
Add the lit briquettes to the smoker. Place them into the hole. You need to be careful here and make sure they all end up in the centre. Placing them into the centre so they slowly light the charcoal around them is what creates the slow burn effect.
The briquettes will slowly catch enabling you to cook between 225 – 250 Degrees over 12 – 18 hours. Place the top of your WSM on, add your meat and use a good quality thermometer to monitor the temp at grate level. when it comes to maintaining the temperature, its best to make small adjustments to your air flow and check the effects after 15 minutes. Remember this is a slow burn effect so don’t expect huge jumps in temp if you open the air vents to the max. Slow and steady wins the race here.
And that’s all there is to it. Once you get the hang of it then you will be able to use this method to cook large cuts of meat low and slow overnight.
If you don’t have a WSM then you can also use the minion method with other smokers. It works well with an offset, barrel and you can event set a Weber classic kettle up. (Use Indirect grilling if using the minion method in a kettle)
Now watch how the method is done: