Grill marks should be the result of heat (or the importance of a clean grill) PLUS MYO: Barbecue red rub

NAGS HEAD, N.C.

The last time this was cleaned there was a Progressive Party.

The barbecue is a requirement for this trip, mostly because of logistics. Each house we stay in features a third-floor kitchen, which means that running the oven leads to a 15- to 20-degree jump in temperature. As a result, we don’t vary our menus from year to year. Beef (typically in the form of a London Broil or flank steak), pork tenderloins, chicken breasts and hamburgers are regular entrants, with their flavoring or marinades changing. One of my favorites was a Jack Daniels marinated flank steak. My love for the caramel-colored whiskey prevents me from keeping it around in any quantity (another story for another day).

The problem with rental property in any locale is cleanliness. Last year’s house was disgusting, to the point where we were killing cockroaches by the end of the stay. The grill was one of the bright spots, a stainless steel number that did not flare up very much. Our first house had a brand new Char-Broil that was far too shallow and flared up at the slightest drip of grease.

This year’s shack in Nags Head is off municipal services like natural gas and sewer, so we have a large propane tank on the starboard side, and a septic tank somewhere underground. The grill is connected directly to the propane service, which is a nice perk. Unfortunately, its possible that the grill has not been cleaned since the Roosevelt administration.

The first one.

The grease mound on the ground.

The grease pan backed up and overflowed long ago, forming an anthill-like pyramid of grease on the ground beneath the grill. The grates of the grill have burn-on that requires carbon dating. Grill marks appear on food and not because the grill is hot.

I’m not saying my own grill is particularly pristine, but I do my best to keep it in working and sanitary order. This…this is dees-gus-ting.

But, we’ve cooked on it all week and the only one who is sick is my 13-month-old (an ear infection that never cleared up).

Tonight’s dinner was pork tenderloin, a previous visitor on the Al Dente blog. In an effort to drive dinner into a healthier lane of the highway, I’ve been trying more dry rub spices. Salt, pepper and herbs. There was also a contribution by Al Dente Binghamton Bureau Chief and the Smartest Guy I Know Brian Moritz, a ripoff of the Dinosaur Barbque red rub.

MYO: Barbecue Red Rub

1/2 cup paprika
1/2 cup kosher salt
1/2 cup light brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated garlic
6 tbsp. granulated onion
1/4 cup chili powder
1 tbsp. black pepper
1 tsp. ground cumin
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper

Mix ingredients together and store in an airtight container.

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