Mastering Low and Slow: The Snake and Minion Methods on Your Weber Kettle Style Grill

Rob

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Barbecue enthusiasts often seek the holy grail of low and slow cooking - that perfect method to achieve tender, succulent, and perfectly smoked meats. The Weber kettle grill, a backyard staple, is an excellent tool for this. In this article, we delve into two revered techniques: the Snake Method and the Minion Method. Both are ideal for long, slow cooks, providing steady temperatures and prolonged smoke, perfect for everything from briskets to ribs.

The Snake Method: A Steady Burn
The Snake Method is named for its arrangement of charcoal briquettes in a 'snake-like' formation along the perimeter of the charcoal grate. Here’s how you can set it up:

Weber Snake method.png weber-kettle-snake2.png

Setting Up the Snake
  1. Arrange Charcoal Briquettes: Lay out unlit charcoal briquettes in a semicircle around the perimeter of your Weber kettle's charcoal grate. Typically, two rows deep and two briquettes high works well. It all comes down to the charcoal you are using, the temp you're looking for and the temperatures outside.
  2. Add Smoking Wood: Place small chunks of your chosen smoking wood (like hickory or applewood) along the top of the 'snake'. These will smolder and produce smoke as the briquettes burn.
  3. Start the Burn: At one end of the snake, place about half a dozen lit briquettes. They will slowly ignite the adjacent unlit briquettes, creating a gradual burn.

Cooking with the Snake
  • Indirect Heat: Place your food on the cooking grate away from the charcoal snake to cook with indirect heat. This method is ideal for items needing several hours of cooking.
  • Temperature Control: Control the temperature by adjusting the grill's vents. Less oxygen means lower temperatures, and more oxygen increases the heat.
  • Duration: A well-built snake can last for 6-8 hours, perfect for most low and slow recipes.

The Minion Method: Consistent and Long-Lasting Heat
Developed by Jim Minion, this method is excellent for maintaining a consistent temperature over a long period. This is mainly used on bullet style smokers like the Weber Smokey Mountain, but you can set up your kettle similarly. In the picture below, I'm using a slow n sear basket.

basket-minion.jpg

Setting Up the Minion
  1. Fill the Charcoal Basket: Fill your Weber's charcoal basket with unlit briquettes and place it to one side of the grill.
  2. Create a Well: Make a small well in the center or on the side of the unlit charcoal.
  3. Add Lit Charcoal: Place about a dozen lit briquettes in the well. Over time, these will ignite the surrounding unlit briquettes.

Cooking with the Minion
  • Steady Temperature: The Minion Method provides a more steady temperature, ideal for very long cooks.
  • Adding Wood Chunks: Place wood chunks among the unlit briquettes for a steady smoke flavor.
  • Vent Adjustment: Like the Snake Method, control the temperature through the grill’s vents.

Tips for Both Methods
  • Monitor Temperature: Use a grill thermometer to keep track of the temperature.
  • Consistency is Key: Avoid opening the lid too often, as this can cause temperature fluctuations.
  • Experiment: Each Weber kettle is a bit different. Experiment with vent settings and charcoal amounts to find what works best for your grill and climate.

Both the Snake and Minion Methods are excellent for achieving the coveted low and slow cook on a Weber kettle style grill. Whether you're smoking ribs, brisket, or a pork shoulder, these techniques offer a reliable way to maintain consistent temperatures and impart that delicious smoky flavor. So, fire up your Weber, choose your method, and get ready to enjoy some of the best barbecue you've ever made!
 
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