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Unread 06-30-2011, 10:17 PM   #1
Smiter Q
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Default Weber kettle question - How long can a minion method go for?

Hi all,

I have done loads of grilling on my weber OTG and smoked some good ribs, but have yet to do a pork butt on it. Was in the middle of building a UDS this past year when an injury took me out of the game in finishing it. Hope to be able to do so within a couple of months, but presently I am still just with my wonderful Weber.

SCENARIO: I wish to do a butt for Saturday to have ready for midday, anywhere from 12pm to 2Pm. Thinking about 6 pounds or so. I have read loads of posts about the minion method and understand it well. Just don't completely understand yet how long the unlit coals will burn for. I do not have a remote temp probe, and it is not in the budget to get one for the weekend. I will be using Kingsford blue. Was thinking putting it on late Friday night, and wrapping Sat morning sometime.

I plan on setting my vents up as LANDARC has exemplified on the forum(quoted him below) : Top vent is always wide open for me. Yes, I have found that with the top vent wide open and the bottom vent nearly closed, I get the best temperature and control for ribs. I use wire gauges, essentially, a wire coat hanger, wire rod and a threaded rod (my old a.c. paving probe) to set my vents. Takes the guess work out. Wire coat hanger reliably gives 225F to 230F, heavy wire probe gets me to 250F, threaded rod gets me to 275F rather dependably. I just stick the proper wire gauge into the top end of the vent and close the vent until it hits the wire.


Seems to be 2 schools of thought for the minion method specifically to the kettle.

1st School:
Those that bank the unlit coals(and wood chunks) to one side(like an indirect grill session) then put 8-10 or so lit coals to a side of the bank to initiate the burn pattern. The butt is on opposite side under a water pan.

2nd School:
This school of thought does a ring of fire of unlit coals and chunks, and has the butt in the middle above a water pan.

A few questions on these techniques for those who have actually done this.
1)How long can you go without needing to open and add more briquettes
2)Is this consistent enough that I can set it up Friday night late and let it burn while I sleep? Or is this asking for trouble.
3)Approx how long will a 6lb butt take
4)How deep do I make the coal bed, or should I just count out 40 or so and arrange symmetrically?

Well.. this is a heap to throw out there for questions and feedback, so I will pop back in after a few answers are up. As always, thank you for the sagacious advice!
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Unread 06-30-2011, 10:33 PM   #2
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Almost past this post thinking you were asking about 22 WSM. Might want to edit title if possible for more traffic. I have done your 1st school several times for ribs, bacon explosions, fatties, etc. Seems like the longest I've gone without adding fuel was maybe 3 hours with a light load, i.e. 2 fatties. Of course I've never really tried to fill it up for max efficiency so longer times could be possible, but I doubt by much. I have the grate that folds up on the sides which helps when time to add fuel, I just leave it up throughout the cook. As far as sleeping... forget it. Mine always seems to need vent attention since the wind is always so crazy here. And once you start adding unlit coals to the fire it seems to get more involving monitoring temps. As far as time goes the rule of thumb is 1 - 1.5 hours per pound for butts so 6 - 9 hours at 225. Also I would say landarc's settings seem to be spot on about the coat hanger, not sure of the rest cause I dont know the diameters of his rods.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 10:46 PM   #3
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Bigfoot,

Thanks for the advice. I changed the title too.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 11:11 PM   #4
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I often can get 6-8 hours with using bricks on one side and settings similar to landarc's. I bring the coals about and inch under the grate.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 11:30 PM   #5
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Landarc has it wired. Ask him more specific questions. He has it down to a science.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 11:33 PM   #6
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1)How long can you go without needing to open and add more briquettes
You can go reliably 4 hours with either method, but, I prefer the ring of fire for longer cooks, more charcoal means longer burn. I use a cast iron skillet in the middle and back coals around edge at least 3 briquettes deep. Wood is mixed into the charcoal every few inches for the first foot. I burn counterclockwise, although I doubt the direction matters.

2)Is this consistent enough that I can set it up Friday night late and let it burn while I sleep? Or is this asking for trouble.
It is asking for trouble, while it is nearly super reliable, it can still burn out or fail in some other odd manner. I like to monitor.

3)Approx how long will a 6lb butt take
And here is the good part, a 6lb butt can be done fairly quickly, I am assuming bone-in, go slow for first hour, 225F then ramp to 270F, you should be done in 6 to 8 hours. Which means 4am to 5am for a start time.

4)How deep do I make the coal bed, or should I just count out 40 or so and arrange symmetrically?
If I am banking the coals, I use one-third of the kettle for coals, I use a support of some time to create a bed of coals as opposed to a pile, I fill it up with charcoal to just below the top grate. I mix wood chunks in. I add the 8 lit charcoals to the top, sometimes I can't close the grate completely. More coals equals longer burn. Slower air flow through fuel column equals more controllable fire.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 11:34 PM   #7
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Lately I have been using just lump, still, same rules apply
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Unread 06-30-2011, 11:44 PM   #8
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@LANDARC - Thank you very much, once again. Most helpful.

@Dannymac - Thanks for the 6-8 #
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Unread 06-30-2011, 11:46 PM   #9
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i get about 8 hours or so depending on the outside temp. i pack it up to the grate on one side also. i have a piece of expanded metal that allows me to pack it that high. one thing i found that really helps is to foil the unused part of the charcoal grate. but i normally cook at about 300 deg give or take a little. butts get done 8-9 hours. its really not a biggie if you do have to add coals. also make sure that the lower vent/coals are upwind and the lid vent is downwind.
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Unread 06-30-2011, 11:56 PM   #10
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Follow Up Question:

I have the one touch gold, wondering if the ash catcher would effect the minion burn at all?
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Unread 07-01-2011, 12:08 AM   #11
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I have done both with and without, I prefer without. But, that is because my kettle at home is a OTS, so I am not used to it.
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Unread 07-01-2011, 01:13 AM   #12
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the gold will not be a problem. the lower vent volume is bigger than the top vent so again, not an issue. also, when you are doing a long cook, the lower vents should just be cracked open about 1/8th of an inch.
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Unread 07-01-2011, 10:00 AM   #13
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Did a brisket last month on my 22.5" OTG using two fire bricks for a heat shield & a water pan underneath the meat. I filled up the charcoal side with unlit, then added 5 lit briquettes to one end. The top vent was open & the bottom vent was 1/8 open most of the time. After 6 hours I still had enough charcoal to go at least another 2 or 3 hours.
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Unread 07-01-2011, 10:28 AM   #14
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Good info again all. Thanks. Seems the consensus is
that it can go for awhile if a random variable does not come into play.
Hope Mr. Murphy does not come to visit the weber!
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Unread 07-01-2011, 12:07 PM   #15
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Random variables and BBQ, who knew?
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I'm feeling bearish, and I'm packing a Wusthof Grand Brisket slicer from MABA

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