Cooking with Charcoal
There are some real advantages and some disadvantages to cooking with charcoal. The big advantage is that charcoal has an indefinite storage life and is relatively inexpensive. You can buy a bag of charcoal, put it in a plastic container, and store it in your garage for years.
The disadvantage is that you have to use it outside. It is very toxic. You should not even use it in your garage. This can be uncomfortable if the weather is very cold and you have to cook outside. Also, if your yard is not secure, your grill and your food may be stolen.
Learning to cook with charcoal takes practice, but there are many ways to do it. You can use a simple grill as pictured above, or you can use a tabletop grill. You can even do without the grill by putting the briquettes on the sidewalk or in a fire pit.There is a difference between a Dutch oven and a cast iron pot. A Dutch oven has a flat top for the charcoal briquettes to sit on. It has feet so that briquettes can also go under the oven.
In general, you need about 30 pieces of charcoal to cook a pound of meat. A lot will depend on the temperature outside. It is said that cooking with charcoal is more art than science. Some things are easier to make than others. Like many things, if you want to get good at it you need to read, study, and practice.
Briquettes can be hard to light. More so if it is windy. Most people buy charcoal starter. The picture shows one that lights your briquettes with newspaper. It is easy to store. You can also use lighter fluid directly on the briquettes, but as a petroleum product, it will get old.Even if you have a wood stove, a grill is good to have for times when the weather is very hot, and you don't want to have a fire inside your home.
Dutch ovens work well for making simple bread and cobblers.