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Thread: Preferred Minion Method

  1. #1
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    Preferred Minion Method

    Hey all,

    I've done a couple of cooks now (2 separate rib runs, a chicken, and a pork butt) and I've found that my WSM tends to run towards the hotter side (270-290) throughout these cooks. I purchased a Cajun Bandit door for my most recent cook as the original door left a pretty big space, so thought that would help a bit in cutting off air flow. But the ribs I did on the first cook with the new door still got up pretty high and actually ended up being a little overcooked (pulled them after 6 hours, which was a great success on my others, but these were a little too falling off the bone).

    I'm wondering if it might be my lighting method? I've been using the Tin Can Minion Method without about 8-10 lit coals to start. Would I be better off with just the Standard Minion Method and placing the hot coals evenly across the unlit ones? Would that get a more even burn maybe? I'm sure the answer is different for everyone but just curious if anyone has any advice!

    Edit: I've been going with just aluminum foil on the water plan and letting the coals get pretty ashed over before throwing them in, as extra info!
    Last edited by Matt Ellis; 10-02-2019 at 08:07 AM.

  2. #2
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    Are you pinching off bottom vents to control temp?

    Just my opinion, i do chicken HOT to cook that skin.
    1 hr skin down at 350, flip over for 30-45 more min.

    Quarters fall off bone(way i like it), skin is edible too.

    The "methods" of managing coals are attempt to keep burn controlled. That doesnt mean you dont manage the damper settings to zero it in, and more occassionally.

    I use temp controller.....because it makes it so simple.
    Light, set, forget. Any adjustments are made on sofa.

    Certainly dont need it...but the thing is....the less hassle...the more you use something.
    Last edited by MartinB; 10-02-2019 at 08:48 AM.

  3. #3
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    Quote Originally Posted by MartinB View Post
    Are you pinching off bottom vents to control temp?

    Just my opinion, i do chicken HOT to cook that skin.
    1 hr skin down at 350, flip over for 30-45 more min.

    Quarters fall off bone(way i like it), skin is edible too.

    The "methods" of managing coals are attempt to keep burn controlled. That doesnt mean you dont manage the damper settings to zero it in, and more occassionally.

    I use temp controller.....because it makes it so simple.
    Light, set, forget. Any adjustments are made on sofa.

    Certainly dont need it...but the thing is....the less hassle...the more you use something.
    Shoulda clarified, for the chicken I did run it hotter, up in the 300s and it came out great. I'm also using the dampers, but trying not to overreact. I'm probably just overthinking things and need to just relax and crack a beer!

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    Quote Originally Posted by Matt Ellis View Post
    Shoulda clarified, for the chicken I did run it hotter, up in the 300s and it came out great. I'm also using the dampers, but trying not to overreact. I'm probably just overthinking things and need to just relax and crack a beer!
    Don't know how long you've had your WSM, but I know my problem (even after having it for several years) is getting in my head and overthinking and/or trying to over manage (too tightly control) my temps. I still do this, especially after not cooking on it for too long.

    Anyway, I agree try not to overreact or overthink. Each cook and cooker run a little differently depending on a myriad of things outside of the pitmaster's control. With practice you learn where you WSM likes to settle in temperature wise and can adjust your cooks accordingly. Have fun! Enjoy!
    -Brian
    18.5" WSM, 22.5" OTG, 18.5" OTG-ish (Modified from OTS)

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    In my very limited experience I get lower temps if I use water in the pan, higher without.

  6. #6
    TVWBB Fan Jim Strickland's Avatar
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    Your 8-10 hot coal method is the way l start up with all the vents wide open. I wait about 15 mins or when l get close to desired temperature back the bottom vents down to a wooden pencil opening in each vent. I let the temperature stabilize for another 15 min or so before making another adjustment. Don't be in a rush and you'll be fine. I should have noted earlier that l used boiling water to fill the water bowl or a mixture of water and fruit juice when smoking. If doing a high heat run l used a few more coals to start my charcoal and don't use water...etc

  7. #7
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    Quote Originally Posted by Brian Johnson View Post
    Don't know how long you've had your WSM, but I know my problem (even after having it for several years) is getting in my head and overthinking and/or trying to over manage (too tightly control) my temps. I still do this, especially after not cooking on it for too long.

    Anyway, I agree try not to overreact or overthink. Each cook and cooker run a little differently depending on a myriad of things outside of the pitmaster's control. With practice you learn where you WSM likes to settle in temperature wise and can adjust your cooks accordingly. Have fun! Enjoy!
    10 or 20 degrees doesn't even matter
    so yeah just let it settle in where it settles in

    Except to how long it takes
    When cooking things like ribs where it's hard to get a probe in the meat , or small chicken parts, you kind of have to go by time... And having consistent temperature there helps you.

    All I can say is a temp controller is a game changer. For me. Light a random amount of coals, dump on top, wait for white smoke to go away.... cook. No futzing with dampers and waiting 30 minutes to see where the temperature lines out at . No going in and out in the rain or cold. No staying up all night

  8. #8
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    My preferred method is to go with about 2/3 of a Weber chimney of lit coals, dumped on top of the wood chunks and unlit coals. While not the conventional minion method, I’m up to temp (265-275) in about 20 minutes. When the smoker gets to 265, I completely close 2 bottom vents, and the 3rd gets closed about 75 percent. I know this will stop the temp right around 275 and hold it rock solid throughout the cook. Every smoker is different, and a lot of people frown at the way I get up to temp in a hurry. But for me, I’ve found this method works best so I stick with it. As stated above, water in the pan tends to run at lower temps, no water tends to run at higher temps. Stick with it, try several different methods and techniques, and find which ones work best for you or you enjoy the most.
    Good luck,
    Tim
    Weber SG Gold Mini WSM 18.5 WSM Genesis E 320 Q-200:cool '06 Blue Performer

  9. #9
    TVWBB Honor Circle Timothy F. Lewis's Avatar
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    I use the Sidewinder Minion Method, and simply touch off the side nearest the door with a torch, button things up and, relax.
    The hardest thing is NOT giving in to the urge to constantly adjust, temperatures will vary it’s not an exact heat source it’s got to be best averages. I figure a possible +/- 25 degrees is close enough. A friend told me while in the middle of my second cook, “Don’t chase ten degrees, you will only drive yourself crazy!”
    Distinguebant Sed, Ignoret In Particulari!
    "If brains was lard, that boy couldn't grease too big a skillet!" J. D. Clampett

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    TVWBB All-Star Lew Newby's Avatar
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    One pointer. If I'm running a little hot I probe my ribs when I have about 1/4" meat shrinkage at the bone ends. Usually not ready but one time they were. Checking is a quick lift of the lid, look, and put the lid back if it's not time to probe. 8-10 hot coals is a good number for Florida. I use it but if I were in New England most of the year I would use about 20.
    Old dog, learning new tricks - one cook at a time :-). -14.5" and 18.5" WSM, SS Performer, CB Rotisserie, Camp Chef Smokepro DLX (Modified) Pellet Grill

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