Fire Prevention 52: Let’s Keep the Fire in the BBQ this Father’s Day Weekend

juicy steak cooking on a grill with flames

Char the Steaks, Not the House

For all the dads out there who plan on barbecuing this Father's Day weekend (or anytime), remember that it is okay to char the steaks, but not the house! And here is a recipe from park superintendent (and dad) Dan Buckley:

When I was in my late teens and early 20s I was a BBQ cook at Jocko's Restaurant in Nipomo, California. Clientele included John Madden and Wilt Chamberlain. We would grill 300 steaks a night over an open pit oak grill, in full view of the patrons. Here are a couple recipes from those days:

Jocko's Barbecue Pink Beans ("pinquitos" -- Google for how to mail order)

  • 3 cups dry pink beans
  • 3 onions, diced
  • 2 green chile peppers, canned
  • 1 clove garlic minced
  • 1/2 to 1 pound bacon, diced
  • salt and pepper

Cover beans with water and simmer 4 hours. When beans are done, fry together bacon, onion, chopped peppers, and garlic. When mixture has browned, add it to a few cooked beans that have been mashed and stir together. Add this mixture to the beans and cook for a short time to allow seasoning to flavor the beans. Add salt and pepper last, as adding earlier will make beans tough. This can be frozen so you can enjoy it later. Serves 8.

Tri-Tip Marinade

48 hours prior to cooking, season tri-tip with dry rosemary, garlic, salt, and pepper. Rub into meat. Put tri-tip in a sealed container or one-gallon zip-top bag, and add the following ingredients:

  • 6 ounces of Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons of liquid smoke

Store marinated tri-tip in refrigerator and turn over every 8 to 12 hours until grill time. Grill tri-tip with fat side down first to seal in flavors. Turn every 10-15 minutes, more if flames are touching the meat. Depending on heat of grill, it should take 30-45 minutes for a 3-4 pound tri-tip to get to a nice pink medium rare.

I have made the above recipes many times, for all kinds of events, from backyard barbeques to weddings. Add some buttered and toasted french bread (split bread lengthwise, butter both sides, toast on grill and cut to individual portions) and salad. This meal can be prepared for about $6.00 per person.

Happy and safe grilling and eating!

Join us at Prevention 52 - Cooking Fire Safety Topics to get additional safety pointers and recipes:

  • Grilling Safely this Memorial Day
  • Deep-Fried Danger
  • Keeping Safe in the Kitchen
  • Grilling Up a Safe & Delicious Meal
  • and more!
portrait image of an Dan Buckley

This edition's author and grillmaster is:

Dan Buckley

Buckley is Superintendent at Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve protects a vast "weird and scenic landscape" with remarkable and diverse volcanic features, sagebrush steppe ecosystems, and wilderness. It provides opportunities to explore, understand, and value the rugged and remote high desert landscape of the Snake River Plain and Great Rift volcanic area. It contains the first designated wilderness area in the National Park System. This park also has several buildings, including employee housing, administrative offices, and a great visitor center. As superintendent, structure fire and life safety for park visitors and employees who use these buildings is part of his responsibilities.

Take Action

"Wow Dan Buckley's famous tri-tip recipe. I'm definitely stealing that one! Thanks, Dan!," says fellow grilling enthusiast Brian "the Prevention Guy" Johnson from the NPS Structural Fire Program.

Good authentic Santa Maria tri-tip is best grilled over red oak, so if you're lucky enough to have some, you should definitely try that. If not, charcoal or even a gas BBQ will work. All BBQ techniques, however, necessitate their own precautions that you should adhere to, so as to not burn down your house or cause injury.

Last updated: November 25, 2016