Sunday, May 27, 2007

The Joy of Tri-Tip

Tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin that was created in a supermarket in Santa Maria, California, in the late 1950s.

Now when I say "created," it's not as if the butchers there made meat where there had been none. Instead, they took a portion of the sirloin that was not a standard cut and had been used for ground meat and tried it out. Turned out to be very tasty and tender.

It's remarkably easy to prepare on the grill, and after trying several methods, I've found the "classic" Santa Maria preparation to be my favorite.

The trickiest part of tri-tip is finding it if you're not on the west coast. The only place I have been able to purchase it, either in the East or in Colorado, is Sam's Club (I'm not a Costco member, so don't know if they might have it. No supermarket or butcher shop I've been into has it, nor have most heard of it.

There are two ways to buy tri-tip: The full roast, which is around two pounds, or cut into long strips, which I would guess are good for making into kebabs. But I only buy the full roast.

My first tri-tip experience was at a county fair in Bozeman, Montana. The food court there had a stand called "Tri-tip Kitchen." They weren't very busy. I went there and told them I had always wanted to try it, so I had a sandwich and it was really good. The proprietors were from California and said they noticed that not many people at the fair knew what tri-tip was. Unfortunately, the word "tri-tip" looks somewhat like "tripe" on first reading. Perhaps by now they've changed their sign to read "Steak Sandwiches."

I think the following recipe was taken whole from one of the many good web pages on tri-tip, but I can't remember which, so apologize to the author.

Charcoal Grilled Tri-Tip with Santa Maria Rub recipe

1 tablespoon salt
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1-1/2 teaspoons black pepper
1-1/2 teaspoons garlic powder or granules

Apply a thick coat of rub to the roast 30minutes to two hours before grilling.

Soak some hickory chips for 30 minutes. Arrange the coals for indirect heat. Place roast on the grill, drain chips and sprinkle on the coals and cover grill with vents open.

Grill meat for 30 minutes, turning after 15.

Check temperature -- 130 degrees is ideal.

Let the meat rest on a cutting board, tented with foil, for 10 minutes. Slice 1/4 inch thick, against the grain.


SteveO said...

Try it on oak rather than hickory for the real Santa Maria falvo

Anonymous said...

I prefer buying tri tip at Costco because they have the Morton's brand already seasoned.