Charcoal can be tricky but doable if you know the secrets. For one pound of meat cooked with the direct-heat method (smack over the fire), a good rule of thumb is 30 briquettes. For the same amount of meat using slower indirect heat, you’ll need about 50 briquettes.
Pile your briquettes in a pyramid. About 20 minutes after lighting, your charcoal should be about 70 percent covered in ash with a faint glow. Spread the charcoal out to extend at least an inch beyond the edges of the food to be cooked.
To determine temperature: hold your hand palm down six inches above the coals. Count how long you can comfortably hold your hand there: 5: 200-300 degrees Fahrenheit; 4: 300-350 degrees; 3: 350-375 degrees; 2: 375 and above.