Originally Posted by Omaha
I've never cooked with charcoal. How do you gauge and control the heat?
Fuel and air.
If you're using something like briquettes, it's damn near a science. The really good grillers are almost able to count coals and tell you exactly what their temperature will be. The classic rookie mistake is to use way too much charcoal and then not know how to kill it without filling the chamber up with soot.
Second thing to remember with the fuel is the placement of same. Indirect heat will save many a leg quarter/pork steak. Don't just cover the bottom with briquettes and expect good results for most things.
Finally - use your vents to cool the fire, but don't choke it off. Then you start making a starved fire that throws impurities about. It's not terribly noticable, but it can be if you're not careful. I've adopted the same approach I took in smoking and I never
close my top vent. I want anything in that kettle that's floating to be able to escape. You can control your heat exclusively through your lower vents.
Fuel and air; it's really not difficult. I don't understand the folks that can't seem to get a handle on it. A charcoal grill isn't any harder to run than a gas grill. Slow-cooking over indirect heat is actually easier on a kettle than a gas grill, IMO.