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Letís Make Fire!
Okay so ...† youíve got a smoker, meat, fuel and wood not you need to make a fire!† Itís easier than you might think if you have the right tools. I suggest you get a charcoal chimney. You can get them from just about any place that sell grills or smokers Ė Ace Hardware, Wal-Mart, Loweís and Home Depot come to mind. Weíre going to use whatís been dubbed as the Minion Method. Itís called that because it was first published by a gentleman named Jim Minion.
Whatís a chimney? A chimney is an open ended can similar to a large coffee can with a small shelf in it and a handle to hold coals and newspaper. There are several pictures from various angles below.
To start your coals;
First take two sheets of newspaper, roll it loosely the long way and place it in the bottom of the chimney can. Leave the center open!
Next fill the can with coals. I use about 10 or 12 of them. Itís good to keep track of how many you used so you can easily duplicate the process for you perfect smoke!
Finally light the newspaper from the holes in the bottom of the chimney in several places. Once itís lit itíll burn hot and fast so Set the chimney on something that wonít catch fire and wait. When all the coals start to turn gray all over theyíre ready. This will take about 10 minutes!
While you wait for the coals to get hot, add some fresh coals to your smoker about 15 of them and mix in some wood chips or chunks. When the coals I the chimney are all gray dump it on top of the unlit coals in your smoker.
Thatís it your ready to smoke some food!† When the coal burn down and your temperature starts dropping just add more fresh coals. Again make a note of how many you used and this will make it real easy next time!
In my Brinkmann All-In-One it seems to work out to about a 10ļF increase in temperature for each briquette added to the fire. Thatís a good starting point but your results may vary depending on the type of smoker you use, outside temperatures, winds and things like that. They all affect temperature!
If you are using a propane or electric smoker you may not need charcoal at all or may just want a few of them. I find the charcoal adds to the smoke ring and helps to keep the wood smoldering. It also reduces the amount of fuel needed to cook you meal.
At this point I think it would be wise to talk about wind breaks. A wind break is just a shelter to block the wind. I can be constructed from anything Ė preferably non-flammable! Even if you live in an area where the temperature donít get bitterly cold you could benefit from a wind break. We all suffer with high winds and rain from time to time and with so little time available for our long slow smokes we donít want it ruined by the weather do we?
Some people get very creative with their wind breaks and build fancy shelters that blend in with their landscapes. Mine is simply several pieces of Styrofoam board held together with pencils to shield the smokers from the wind and snow.
If you have a garage you might want to consider a temporary wind break that you can tear down at the end of a long smoke, if not you may want to consider something more permanent to protect you investment.
I donít have a garage so this serves as my wind break and my storage shed all year round. It saves me a bundle on fuel as it its constructed out of 4 inch thick Styrofoam board and itís temporary because itís held together with pencils so I can move it around at will by just pulling a pencil! It faces my kitchen doors so the front in pretty well protected from the wind and being temporary I donít need a permit from the town to build it or get an increase in my taxes!
I have to rebuild my structure somewhat to house the three
smokers I have now in there and protect me a bit from the weather but for now
it works and has for over
a year four years .
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© DJx2 2007