I'm no bbq master, but I have picked up a few handy tips that make my life a little easier. I'm not sure where most of these are from (the amazing Alton Brown or the wonderful Cook's Illustrated The Best Recipe: Grilling and Barbecue, maybe?).
- Use crumpled aluminum foil to clean your grate. Works like a charm, costs virtually nothing, and you can throw it away. I use it on the cold grill first (both sides) and then on the hot grill (using tongs to hold the foil ball) to get the last bits off.
- Squirt a little oil on your newspaper before you light it to keep it burning longer. One of the classic charcoal starting failures is the newspaper burning out before the charcoal gets going. A little vegetable oil on the paper before you crumple it up seems to make the paper last longer so the charcoal has time to catch.
- Let meat sit under foil for 10-15 minutes after you take it off the grill. The juices that move to the surface during cooking will redistribute throughout the meat for a juicier, more tender result. For ribs, you can wrap them in foil and then put them in a paper bag for an hour afterwards for even better results.
Now, if I only had some patience to let the coals get to the right state before I start cooking, I might figure this grilling thing out after all.
(BTW, both Alton Brown and Cook's Illustrated are my favorite cook book/cooking show producers. They both share a food science approach to cooking, explaining why things work the way they do. Fab.)