Nothing tastes quite as amazing as a nice, juicy steak or succulent seasonal vegetables cooked on the grill. Gas grills work well enough, but food cooked over charcoal develops a delicious smoky flavor that a gas grill just can't match. If you've been shying away from charcoal thinking it's hard to regulate the temperature, now is your chance to learn just how easy it is to control the heat on a charcoal grill and cool it down quickly if you need to do so.
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How to Control Heat
You can cool your grill as you need to during cooking, but taking a few simple steps before you get started can help ensure you don't burn your food if the grill gets a little too hot. One is to adjust your grill rack. Many charcoal grills allow you to set the cooking rack in several different positions. Since it's easier to make a grill hot than it is to cool it down, it's wise to position your grate as high as you can before you start cooking.
You can also protect your food from excessive heat by making a simple grill shield. To do so, simply fold over a piece of aluminum foil two or three times and place it under your food. This adds a buffer between you and disaster if your grill flares up while you're using it.
It's also possible to control the heat by adjusting the amount of charcoal you use. Although quick and easy, it's often not necessary to place an entire bag of charcoal in the grill and light it. As you become more familiar with your grill, you will learn how much charcoal you need and how much is too much.
How to Cool the Grill While Cooking
There are several ways to cool down your grill if it gets too hot while you're grilling. One way is to simply adjust the airflow vents beneath the grill. Fire needs oxygen to burn, and giving it less will reduce the heat. You can adjust the vents by closing them only as far as you need to in order to cool down things.
Another way to control your heat is to create zones within your barbecue grill. You may move all the charcoal briquettes away from one part of the grill to create a cool zone. You can then create a single layer of bricks next to that for a warm cooking area and then create a double layer of bricks for a hotter cooking surface. Breaking your grill into these three zones helps you better control the temperature and gives you various cooking temperatures when cooking different types of food all at the same time.
How to Quickly Cool the Grill After Use
If you want to leave your house or if you need to transport your grill home from a park or campsite, you may want to cool the grill as quickly as you can. Begin by spreading out the charcoal across the bottom of the grill with barbecue tongs. After that, place the lid on the grill and completely close all of the grill vents. This will starve the fire and put out your charcoal.
After about 15 minutes, remove the lid from the grill and spray the briquettes with water. Use a spray bottle for this. Never just pour water on the coals, as this will create a massive amount of steam and potentially burn you. It could also warp or damage the bottom of your grill.
Continue lightly spraying the coals and stirring them around until they are cool enough to touch. You can now safely leave the area or transport the grill if necessary.