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PBC Minion Method

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    PBC Minion Method

    I just watched the seminar on smoke. The contention at the start is about getting the fire at a sweet spot - just enough fuel burning at 700-800F to warm the smoker to the right temp (e.g. 225) with plenty of air flow. According to Bonder what you don't want is "2sq ft of fuel burning at a couple of hundred degrees". Hmm.

    He then goes on to say about minion method working well, snaking the coals, gravity feeds, etc. All of which have a small, intense fire.

    What I didn't determine was whether this holds for charcoal as well as wood, (charcoal having significantly less 'impurities' than wood at the start, therefore cleaner burning). My impression was that its irrelevant, lower temp burns give poor smoke.

    So has anyone tried a minion style burn in a PBC? What were the results? (and as importantly - how on earth did you do it? - I can only think of a snaking of coals around baffles in the basket)

    Matt

    #2
    Matt,
    How else do you run your fire in the PBC? I thought everybody used Minion with the PBC.
    I always use the Minion method when I smoke. Weather its on my PBC or my Keg.
    Usually, I fill up the PBC basket heaping full. Then I take out about 1/3 of the charcoal and throw it in the chimney. Then I put the basket with 2/3 of the coal back into the PBC.
    After the chimney is rolling, I simply dump a little on each side and its good to go. Sometimes I use some long tongs to get the coals that fall out of the basket during dumping. This seems to work really well for me in both of my rigs. This was the only way I thought of doing the PBC. I haven't had any problems this way and the fire seems to burn great, with consistent temps and long fire life. I hope this helps.
    SMOKE ON!!!

    Comment


    • mtford72
      mtford72 commented
      Editing a comment
      See comment below

    #3
    I am curious as to whether something like Harry Soo's donut method for the WSM would work in a PBC to maintain a lower cook temperature over an extended period. Just light a handful of coals and place in the middle of the basket. I may have to try that and monitor temp and duration on a test burn.

    Comment


      #4
      Deuce, isn't that method close to what jkbrinda does with his garden torch? He lights the coals in the center of the basket with his torch and lets the fire slowly spread outward during the length of the cook. He says he gets about 10 hours of burn with this method. Here's the link to his post.

      Kathryn
      Last edited by fzxdoc; December 17, 2014, 04:12 PM.

      Comment


      • Deuce
        Deuce commented
        Editing a comment
        Well I don't have a torch lol, and he doesn't really say what temp that method is holding. On a normal light up mine likes to run 280, which I love. But I was wondering if the donut method would hold 225 ish over an extended period of 10 hours or so.

      • smarkley
        smarkley commented
        Editing a comment
        Wish I had a big weed burner... I would just try to lighting on side right by the edge of the basket and see if would burn in a circle from there.

      • HC in SC
        HC in SC commented
        Editing a comment
        Try using a Joe-homeowner torch from Lowes.


        Get a bottle MAP gas as only a propane bottle will come with the trigger operated torch deal. Use the MAP gas to start your coals as it burns 5000+ degrees.


        Propane will only achieve about 3600 degrees.
        Last edited by HC in SC; December 18, 2014, 05:44 AM.

      #5
      I want that whole basket burning, or at least as many briquettes as I can get on the top. I want initial, and thereafter, meat drippings, hitting hot coals and flavoring the ever-living crap out of my meat.

      Comment


      • smarkley
        smarkley commented
        Editing a comment
        Yup.... I get 8 hours all the time. Fill 'er up to get it. I get mine so full I need to move a briquette or two, to grab the handle.

      • Jerod Broussard
        Jerod Broussard commented
        Editing a comment
        Yeh, 8 with Kingsford and not overloaded. Overloaded (eg. 4-5 briskets) not so. Unless I have it full of B & B briquettes, then it would easily go 11-12, but meat is done before then. I would leave out some briquettes, and have at times to a certain extent, it's just you really need a certain amount of them burning to keep your temp. Each one will only get so hot.

      • HC in SC
        HC in SC commented
        Editing a comment
        Last cook I did with 15+ lbs of pork butt on the PBC I got about 8.5 hours before the cooker temp dropped to under 200 for good with meat on. I was using Kingsford blue minion method per Noah's instructions, but I had to crack the lid often to maintain temps.

      #6
      I've found 7hrs to be pretty easy to maintain and that's with some lid cracking which really stokes the flames/eats more charcoal. I'm fairly sure if you *really* fill that basket it's going to go 8 hrs. Granted, speculation here, subject to confirmation. I'll find out this weekend.

      Comment


      • HC in SC
        HC in SC commented
        Editing a comment
        I would bet There might be a threshold variance due to elevation as well.

      #7
      Spinnaker makes the point about the PBC already using the minion method, in that there are unlit coals. Agreed.

      However, my takeaway from Bonder was that a small, intense burn was preferable to a large, lower temp burn. Certainly using a lighter fluid method to get things going, you might have 70% of the basket burning in some form or fashion (I'm obviously just guessing, but the fluid must coat the lower coals, so they must have some level of burn going).

      Using the chimney lighter approach is clearly much closer to the desired minion effect - only the top coals are lit. Question - are they burning intensely? Is there decent airflow? Those were the two key components and what's being considered here. Can the desired operational temps be reached with fewer coals burning at a peak intensity? That would be the optimum according to the seminar.

      For clarification, Bonder comments that a 400 smoulder is bad, 7-800 ripping burn is good. Perfect scenario - a small number of coals burning hot, the fire continually fed a lump at a time.

      As Kathryn / Deuce points out, this is close to what Soo describes in his WSM seminar. He has a lit 'column' of coals in the center of his firebasket. This might be a goal to consider with the PBC to get that clean, high temp burn.

      Possible solution: spraying lighter fluid into just the center of the basket, so when lit it creates a column of 40ish lit coals. (a la Soo) It would be surrounded by the unlit. That center would burn hot, and the lit 'ring' would gradually progress to the perimeter. Downside: it lessens the evaporation effect on the drippings that Jerods understandably desirous of.

      Anyway, this consideration of Bonder's research does definitely suggest that Jerod's purist approach of always using the starter chimney is the superior to the 'lighter fluid sprayed everywhere' approach.

      Boy, we get down in the weeds on this site!!

      BTW - if you haven't, check out the link on Kathryns post. The post is speaking exactly to this process, just not for this reason.
      Last edited by mtford72; December 17, 2014, 03:59 PM.

      Comment


      • smarkley
        smarkley commented
        Editing a comment
        That 7-800 burn is easy to get when you squirt lighter fluid all over the place... I have seen it and I bet you have too.

        I would be willing to try the squirting lighter fluid right in the middle idea, sounds interesting... still need to burn that initial 20 minutes to burn it off so to speak.

        Also.. I have a feeling that this whole thing longevity wise would be easier to accomplish with new pbc stack mods that are popping up

      • mtford72
        mtford72 commented
        Editing a comment
        Completely concur in that initially with either method you get a hot burn - but then does that descend into 50 or 60 coals burning at 400 degrees, rather than 30 to 40 at 800?
        Im sure that there are a ton of things that have a greater effect. But the seminar provoked the question.

      #8
      Originally posted by mtford72 View Post

      BTW - if you haven't, check out the link on Kathryns post. The post is speaking exactly to this process, just not for this reason.
      Which is why you need a garden torch for your donut style burn research, Matt.

      Heck, until I read jkbrinda's post I didn't even know what a garden torch was. Thank goodness for Google. My husband was concerned that I might burn the house down when I got a smoker for the deck. Wait until he hears about that garden torch dealie. Hahaha.

      Kathryn

      Comment


        #9
        You guys are messing with methods that already provide for perfection. Follow PBC's guidance on lighting the charcoal. Their methods are dead simple and result in a clean burn. The PBC naturally starves airflow, resulting in just enough oxygen hitting the coals and getting burned to provide good smoke.

        To make sure you're doing it right monitor your pit temp with a digital thermometer. If it peaks between 380-420F about 5 minutes after you close the lid you know you had a good light.

        To prove my point, use the normal lighting methods and then throw several wood chunks in the fire basket right before you close the lid and start cooking. As long as you don't crack the lid too much (which will cause the chunks to get air and burn) after cooking a couple of hours you'll note the chunks look like lump charcoal. This means you got a lot of good smoke flavor out of them

        Comment


          #10
          I don't have to worry about any of this with my stickburner, lol. Neither does DWCowles!

          Comment


          • DWCowles
            DWCowles commented
            Editing a comment
            Yeah Huskee, I'm just picking on them. It's all in fun. Just look at all of the extra meat us stick burners can buy since we don't have to buy charcoal...just saying

          • Voodoo
            Voodoo commented
            Editing a comment
            Keep it up DW, and I'm coming to your house for dinner!😁

          • The Burn
            The Burn commented
            Editing a comment
            "Oh the conversations we'd have if we had a good ol bonfire!"

            And a few drinks . . . .

          #11
          I tend to agree with Pit Boss and Jerod.. use the method described by Noah to get the best burn and try to get a layer of top coals burning for the best flavor profile (which is one of the reasons the PBC food tastes great!).
          But! How much lighter fluid you use and how long you let it pre burn has a big effect on the temp the PBC settles on. For instance, when I did my Thanksgiving turkey I wanted the temps higher for that crisp skin. So I went very heavy with the fluid, then left the lid off for 25 min before hanging the bird and closing the lid. She settled in around 350. The bird was awesome and perfect. Last time I did a rack of ribs, I put a very light layer of fluid on the top coals and only went for 10 min of pre burn (700ft elevation) before dropping in the ribs and topping it of with the lid. This had the cooker settling at the more typical 250-270.
          As far as what Dr Blonder says, I see your point mtford. But for whatever reason, I feel the smoke profile of the PBC is excellent as is.

          Comment


          • Beefchop
            Beefchop commented
            Editing a comment
            Yep. You don't have to overthink the PBC - lots of testing and research have gone into the development and design.

          #12
          Keep in mind that the PBC has no diffuser so the drippings will land on the coals. So if you're going to use less lit coals for the "minion" then you might want to have the lit coals away from the drippings.

          Comment


            #13
            I have so many bad memories about steaks, burgers, chicken, etc having a lighter fluid after taste as a kid I refuse to use it (Sorry Dad - LOL).

            It is more of a mental hurdle for me to get over than anything - just knowing that food was cooked over coals with lighter fluid makes me not want to eat it.

            Sorry - I'll stick with the chimney; or maybe go with a garden torch or a Joe-homeowner MAP gas torch:

            Click image for larger version

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            Comment


              #14
              So I'm glad that's settled then!

              I did say at some point that this is really getting into the weeds. Bonder emphasized that even a short period of bad smoke could have a significant affect on the outcome. Long and short of it, Chimney start seems the soundest lighting route. Minimal number of lit coals, those lit are burning hot, whole of basket area covered for the drippings.

              I am absolutely not going to weigh in on the stickburner / PBC argument. DC and Huskee could probably keep that conversation going all night, posting every 15 minutes between putting another stick on the fire or trimming the vents.

              Comment


              • Huskee
                Huskee commented
                Editing a comment
                Lol!

              • David Parrish
                David Parrish commented
                Editing a comment
                Well said Bro!

              #15
              It settled for me a while ago, Matt. I lean toward the PBC purist approach, in that for my needs the cooker is sweet all on its own, and those guys did their homework before bringing it to market. I trust in their research. The design allows me to manipulate the temps as needed, and at this point I'd rather play with the idea of using different types of charcoal or charcoal blends for different types of cooks (long vs. short). For example, I'm going to investigate using lump charcoal for Ernest's Hot 'n Fast chicken, but will be back to Kingsford Original or a mix of Original and Competition briquettes for longer cooks.

              Also, for the cooks that I've done, even if I couldn't maintain the optimum (to me) temperature as long as I wanted, every cook has turned out a winner, and way better than I get in some local BBQ joints. I love that PBC because it does so well no matter how I monkey with it.

              Kathryn

              Comment


              • mtford72
                mtford72 commented
                Editing a comment
                It absolutely does do a great job, almost regardless of what's thrown at it (or in it).

                Our need to fiddle - changing charcoal, cracking the lid, etc. Probably annoys Noah et al. no end! But, experimenting is fun.

              • HC in SC
                HC in SC commented
                Editing a comment
                10-4 - even the worst cooks (due to operator error) have come out edible.

              • Huskee
                Huskee commented
                Editing a comment
                @mtford72 The need to fiddle with things is innate in most of us. It is, after all, how things get invented and improved!

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