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Old 08-25-2009, 01:39 PM   #1
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Charcoal Question

I was listening to the show the other night and the advice of several folks was to be sure that briquettes were "grayed over" before you used them. Now I'm not trying to argue as I think that is solid advice for grilling. I also don't use them that often in favor of lump and/or wood. Since all briquettes are not created equal I am pretty picky about the brand too. (I don't want this to become a "my brands better" dealio so we are leaving that bit out.)

Here is my curiosity... If one is using the Minion method to fuel the smoker, how does one address the "totally grayed over" bit? That much charcoal being lit would destroy any hopes of Minion-ing anything?

I know my answer, but I was curious what y'all thought about that concept.

P.S. Greg... I'm with you on the searing and the charcoal lighter fluid... I declined to sell an old offset to a feller who asked me how much fluid I used to start 5lbs of charcoal. He was a little miffed when I gave his money back... but I just couldn't bear to see the wood flavors that built up go to the fluid!
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Old 08-25-2009, 03:15 PM   #2
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I don't have the answer for that other than I know the MM works and I have always used it...there is a lot of smoke on start up but after a short while, aside from the actual wood chunks smoking, the charcoal smoke dies down and the long burn starts. When I use my WSM's I always use this method...ALWAYS...and I have never had any issues with taste or bad flavors!

BTW, glad we won't have to fist fight on the street over the searing issue!
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Old 08-25-2009, 04:44 PM   #3
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Re: Charcoal Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qjuju
I was listening to the show the other night and the advice of several folks was to be sure that briquettes were "grayed over" before you used them. Now I'm not trying to argue as I think that is solid advice for grilling. I also don't use them that often in favor of lump and/or wood. Since all briquettes are not created equal I am pretty picky about the brand too. (I don't want this to become a "my brands better" dealio so we are leaving that bit out.)

Here is my curiosity... If one is using the Minion method to fuel the smoker, how does one address the "totally grayed over" bit? That much charcoal being lit would destroy any hopes of Minion-ing anything?

I know my answer, but I was curious what y'all thought about that concept.


Im not sure Im readin into this the right way but: You only lite a half or full chiminy of charcoal and let those coals gray over before you pour them on top of the rest of the coals in the smoker.....hope this helps.
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Old 08-25-2009, 06:15 PM   #4
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Been through a few tons of charcoal back in the day and will agree with ya. Kingsford dont need to be pre burnt. Just fan the firebox door a few times if the smoke start looking nasty or stinking when the junk first catches. Now you start trying that trick with lump by the time it grays over it's a clue to add mo. It sorta just burns as it goes if you get my drift. Now I have run into some off branded briquettes and lump too which flat aint fittin to use. With sorry briquettes you can gray em over. With sorry lump you just got to learn to not buy that brand again...or sometimes lump can be good for one meat and need another brand for a different meat. For example on chickens you dont want to use no brisket type charcoal. Now vice versa dont hurt a thang it just gets expunsive. Am I making any sense here?

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Old 08-26-2009, 08:46 AM   #5
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Maybe I should expand a bit more....

Y'all made sense, but here is the thing and maybe I was getting it wrong when I heard it the radio-- or the podcast as the case may be.

I have used Jim's method even with my offsets... works great. On my Excel I put approximately 20lbs of charcoal in the basket and 6 or 8 in the chimney. When the few are grayed over they go on top of the others. Pretty classic Minion method. Obviously there is some wood involved too. So what I have achieved, and anyone else at this point really, is a big pile of un-lit charcoal that is going to be set off slowly by the very small pile of lit charcoal. Something like this here...


The point the other night was... Only used totally grayed over charcoal if you want to avoid off flavors that are derived from binders etc... and if I was direct grilling I would agree, but I use lump for that and that's a different discussion.

So... if I were a total noob and set out to follow the advice the other night I would have had 20lbs of ashed over charcoal in the bottom of my smoker, a lot of jerky, and a small meltdown.

I'm thinking they were just talking about "Grilling" opportunities, but it came across as "whenever you are using charcoal briquettes."

If I have been overly technical here... I apologize and please chalk it up to my experience with end users.

P.S. I was really not trying to get into brands as that seems to be religion to us... I have tasted funny flavors from certain brands. I wont use them ever again. I use lump for some things... briqs for other things... wood to some degree almost always... and occasionally some sawdust in a tray.
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Old 08-26-2009, 08:46 AM   #6
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Re: Charcoal Question

Quote:
Originally Posted by Qjuju
I was listening to the show the other night and the advice of several folks was to be sure that briquettes were "grayed over" before you used them. Now I'm not trying to argue as I think that is solid advice for grilling. I also don't use them that often in favor of lump and/or wood. Since all briquettes are not created equal I am pretty picky about the brand too. (I don't want this to become a "my brands better" dealio so we are leaving that bit out.)

Here is my curiosity... If one is using the Minion method to fuel the smoker, how does one address the "totally grayed over" bit? That much charcoal being lit would destroy any hopes of Minion-ing anything?

I know my answer, but I was curious what y'all thought about that concept...
If they don't say 'Natural Hardwood Briquettes' they ain't. Kingsford blue uses limestone, borax, sodium nitrate, mineral coal (mined coal, fossil fuel) and sawdust. Try and get 'Natural Hardwood Briquettes' if you can which only uses wood char and wheat paste as a binder.

*I'm certain some lump uses additives as well suc as Royal Oak blue bag (Star Grilling) product ... I had a couple bags of it it and the smoke just reeked with a petrol-ish smell. Stick to '100% Natural Hardwood Lump' product.

'be sure to use ashed over briquettes' applies more to grilling with unnatural briquettes, such as Kingsford. You can Minion method with lump or either type of briquettes but according to Jim Minion: "I have found that as long as you have a flame under Kingsford you will notice the smell but if there is no flame the odor is not present. The only thing I can tell you is that in a blind judging those folks do not detect the flavor discussed here. This is against food that is cooked on all style of cookers."

So that's why you can use Kingsford for Minion method without lighting all the charcoal up (ashed over) and not get the smell or taste (though a few folks seem to complain they can taste Kings stink from MM cooks). The airflow in a smoker is restricted to control combustion.
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Old 08-28-2009, 11:28 AM   #7
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I minion in my kettle all the time and during a slow burn you don't smell that "charcoal" smell at all. I only smell the wood burning. But when you light up a chimney of coals you really smell that "charcoal smell." I'm not sure why that is but I've never had any off taste on any of the food I've cooked using the minion method. For grilling I let them ash over all the way. Maybe when they burn slow you don't get that smell I wonder why that is?
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