I want to understand how to use my charcoal grill better. What are your awesome grilling tips for charcoal grills?
This is my grill.
Right now, I've basically got two modes, super hot, and not quite warm enough. I want to be able to cook w/more nuance, and for longer periods of time. Right now, I can cook: boneless chicken breasts, hot dog/hamburgers, and steaks. I would like to be able to cook cut-up chicken, or salmon, or larger cuts of meat. I would like to be able to grill halved peaches, which seem like they take a long time. I'd like to be able to grill other things, which escape me right now.
The current scenario is: I have a chimney that I use to start charcoal with. I tried hardwood charcoal first, but it was reduced to ash too quickly. Now I use the standard Kingsford (?) variety. I wait until it turns grey, dump it on the bottom grate, and shove it all over to cover one half of the bottom grate about two inches deep. So there I have super-heated side, and no-heat side. Bottom vents open all the way, because as I mentioned, I'm not cooking with much dexterity here.
So, some specific questions I'd like to know about, and I'm interested in any other tips/techniques/secrets:
1.) If I'm supposed to avoid fire at all costs, how do I cook for half an hour or more without adding more charcoal? It seems like it gets reduced to ash and requires more charcoal, but then there's this very small flap where you'd pour more charcoal in, but once you pour it in a) it's all going to be in a pile, so why not take the grill off and distribute it? and b) it will then be fresh charcoal.
2.) What are some better ways to gauge and control the heat than "really hot" and "not hot enough"? In the kitchen, for example, if I want to know how hot a frying pan is, I flick a little water on it--that gives me some idea of whether it's searing (scallops) or low-moderate (eggs). How can I evaluate this outside?
3.) If I want to start expanding my grilling horizons, what should I try first? Clams? Oysters? Spare ribs?
Generally speaking, I'm a good cook and can cook a lot of things, and I like all food. (Except sauerkraut, which holds a special place in my universe as the only food I've found 100% disgusting. So, please. No grilled sauerkraut.)