Low and Slow on a Kettle BBQ (the Fuse Method)

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The “Fuse” method (affectionately referred to as the “Snake”) is popular with Australian BBQers wanting to cook “Low and Slow”

The Fuse guarantees a stable temperature, it’s easy to setup and can be relied on to cook your food while you are down the pub with your mates!

Step 1: How Does It Work?

The configuration of the briquettes in the Fuse dictates the amount of heat and the length gives the duration of the burn.

The fuse is carefully laid out and lit fuel is placed on one end. The fire progressively burns to the other end at a consistent rate delivering an even stable heat for the duration of the cook.

A properly prepared fuse can give up to 18 hours of "Low and Slow" cooking in a kettle BBQ

Step 2: Setup the Fuse

In this method we carefully lay two briquettes side by side on the charcoal grate around the wall of the kettle. Then, starting from the end of the “Fuse”, carefully place another briquette on top of the two on the bottom, then lean another on that one and continue leaning the top row on the previous briquette all the way round to the start position.

This structure ensures that as the fire burns, the lit briquettes will “fall” towards the unlit ones and not away from them.

At the very start of the Fuse leave 4 briquettes without the top row, this is a kind of launching pad for the lit briquettes to “Mount” the Fuse and start the whole thing burning.

Care taken in the setup will pay off.

Study my picture and you will see the "launching pad" at the start of my fuse on the left hand side. Make sure you place the lit fuel on the start, the angle of the briquettes helps the fire burn correctly.

Place some wood chips, chunks or herbs along the Fuse for a progressive release of smoke flavour as the Fuse burns

Step 3: Lighting the Fuse

Light a half dozen or so briquettes in a chimney and once burning well, carefully place the lit fuel on the “Launching Pad”.

I have set the bottom vents to half as with the ones in the lid. It is only necessary to adjust the vents if you are fighting ambient conditions like wind or extreme cold.

Wind will blow through the vents and feed the fire making the Fuse burn too fast, closing the vents a little can help but the only real answer to wind is to find a protected spot to cook. Opening the vents will let the fuel burn cleaner and with a little more heat, this helps combat extreme cold

Step 4: Getting Up to Temperature

After half an hour the temperature has settled down to 82°C (180°F).

Another half hour later and the fuse has started to light and the temperature is stable at 105°C (220°F).

Three hours later and the temperature is still 105°C (220°F), the fuse will progressively burn, but because there is only six or so briquettes alight at any time the temperature will stay at 105°C (220°F) for many hours, without the need for any maintenance, in fact you don’t even need to be home!

In this picture you can see the fuse after 6 hours of burning at constant temperature

Step 5: More Ideas for Using the Fuse

Increasing the amount of fuel in the Fuse will increase the temperature; one briquette will add roughly 25°C (50°F).

If for example I use a base of two briquettes in base of the fuse, two on top of that and one more on the top of that (so two more briquettes than in the previous example). The temperature settles in nicely at 152° (305°F) a nice slow roasting temperature.

Once you get used to using your fuel this way, you will be able to modify the setup to provide different results.

You could run a short fuse into a large pile of fuel to start the cook at a low temperature and finish at a high temperature.

You could have the "End" in the centre and run a fuse both directions from that point, lighting both ends will give double the heat.

This is a great method and increases the versatility of your kettle BBQ, give it a try! The butcher has some Pork Ribs just calling your name!

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    3 Discussions

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    Schmidlapper

    Question 15 days ago

    For clarification at what point do you normally begin your cooking, after the first half hour (180 degrees), or second half hour? It looks like about a quarter 22” kettle length fuse was good for six hours based upon this example. I find I always use to much fuel up front and waste it. I’m trying to be more accurate about my fuel load. Going to try it for a three hour ~305 degree run today. So 1/8 length arc with a five briquette fuse, half open top and bottom vents.

    Good grilling to you,
    Bill S

    1 answer
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    UrbanGrillerSchmidlapper

    Answer 8 days ago

    Start cooking as soon as the kettle has come to temperature. One third of the kettle rim is 6 hours. Set it up for 6 hours and when you are finished shut the vents and the fire goes out leaving the unlit fuel behind.

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    WeTeachThemSTEM

    15 days ago

    Thanks for sharing this Fuse Method tutorial and the additional tips! Lots of great info for me to share with the Grill Masters in my life. :D