If you're a grilling newbie, you probably use the "toss in charcoal, lighter fluid, light it up" method, but better grilling comes with learning to bank coals and the benefits of direct and indirect heat. This guide walks you through -- and how to set up your grill accordingly.
The guide starts with the basic single-level fire: one layer of charcoal across the bottom of the grill, lit and glowing. America's Test Kitchen notes it's ideal for fast-cooking types of foods, like sausages, fish, and some vegetables.
They move on to methods like the two-level fire (shown above), ideal for bone-in steaks and chops, and offers area of high and low heat, all the way up to banked fires (all the coals on one side, ideal for brisket or pork shoulder since it can accommodate a lot of meat and even a pan of water for steaming). They even show you how to set up double-banked coals, which offers a cool space in the centre but still enough heating for even cooking, ideal for grilling a whole chicken, for example.
Some of this may come off complicated, but depending on what you want to cook, the extra space below your food for a drip pan or water pan, or room for a cool spot, can make all the difference. Hit the link below for the full guide.
How to Engineer Your Fire [America's Test Kitchen]