I’ve checked the calendar twice now. Yesterday we spend the day hiking along the river – it was 80 degrees – in January. Today was almost as balmy. The birds were singing, the sky was blue. A perfect day to fire up the grill. In our house, grilled tri-tip is always a barbecue favorite. Tri-tip can be found in any grocery store in California – it’s most popular along the central coast and central valley. Up until the 1950’s Tri-Tip was ground into hamburger meat. Then a man named Otto Schaefer started selling the roast in his market in Oakland, California. From there, the popularity of this particular cut of meat took off. When prepared correctly, it’s a wonderful, flavorful, tender beef treat that will knock your socks off. A tri-tip is well marbled, naturally full-flavored and is anything but pedestrian. You’ll want to look for a tri-tip with a thin layer of fat remaining on one side. Don’t worry, it will melt away on the grill, basking the meat with its succulent flavor. What I like best about a nice tri-tip is that everyone gets their beef fix cooked “just right”. My husband is a well-done kind of guy (although he’s learing that a little pink is good), our grandson is a medium of the road type, and I’m (you guessed it) just a notch about rare. I like my meat warm to the touch in the center and bright rosie-pink.
There are a few basic “musts” for a successful tri-tip that is flavorful, tender and juicy. According to all the experts out there, letting the meat rest on the counter for about 45 minutes prior to grilling has no bearing on the final outcome. However; my own experience tells me differently. Allowing the meat to rest on the counter makes it easier to grill because the meat starts out at a slighty elevated, even temperature. Unless you are using an indirect method of grilling, with lots of smoke, the less time on the grill, the better. Next, it’s important to sear the meat well. Not only will the searing give the meat a nice flavorful crust, it helps to seal in the juices. Finally, always UNDER COOK your meat. Grilled meats need to rest another 10 minutes after being pulled from the grill. Wrap well in foil to keep warm, and allow the meat to rest. Two things will happen: 1) the meat will retain all its extraordinary jucie goodness instead of letting those flavors run all over the carving platter. 2) the internal temperature of the a thick tri-tip will continue to rise – as much as 15 degrees. If you cook it to your liking, then let it rest, you’ll run the risk of overcooking the meat. Tri-tip is best when pulled from the grill once it reaches an internal temperature of about 130 degrees. Oh, and one last tip – DON’T POKE the meat. When grilled properly, a lot of poking, prodding, flipping and abundance of handling isn’t necessary. The more you handle your meat, the tougher it will become. No one wants a dried out, leatherly piece of meat on their plates. So when grilling, less renders more.
My hubby and I make a great pair when it comes to grilling. I make the rubs and sauces for whatever we’ve going to throw on the barbe, he builds the fire and tends to the meat while it’s cooking. This allows me time to prepare all the sides to round out the meal. Nothing like teamwork and timing.
Tri-Tip Barbecue with Spicy Dry Rub
1 Tri-Tip Roast, 2-3 pounds
1 tablespoon ground black pepper
2 tablespoons salt
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Sugar
1 Teaspoon Chii Powder
1 Teaspoon Ancho Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Chipotle Spice
1/2 Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
2 Teaspoons Mustard Powder
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
Mix all ingredients for spice rub. Use a tablespoon or so at a time to rub into the meat. Depending upon the size of your tri-tip, this will make more than enough rub to coat the meat well. Store any unused rub in a jar and use it for another time.
Wrap the roast in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, let stand on counter for 45 minutes prior to grilling. (Total marinating time is 2 hours)
Build nice bed of hot coals. Open the lower vents and upper vents half way, place grate over coals and close lid to heat, about 5 minutes. Clean grate and oil paper towels dipped in vegetable oil.
Raise coals to high position (or lower grate, depending upon grill). Grill meat, fat side up, for 3-5 minutes or until nicely seared. Turn and sear other side. Lower coals (or raise the grate, depending upon grill), cover and continue to cook meat 7-10 minutes longer. Turn and cook 6-8 minutes longer. Transfer to platter or cutting board and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.
The key to a juicy piece of meat is to let the meat rest 10-15 minutes after grilling to allow the juices to soak back into the meat rather than run all over the cutting board. Slice the meat against the grain as thick or as thin as you like. If using for tri-tip sandwiches, thin is good. Or wow your guests with a nice, thick tri-tip steak.
My guys are real meat and potatoes eaters. Whenever we fire up the grill, I love to make either roasted potatoes or country fried potatoes. There’s just something about grilled meats and roasted or fried potatoes. Is it just me, or do these seem to go hand in hand?
Roasted Rosemary Red Potatoes
8-10 Red Potatoes, medium size, washed and cut into wedges
2-3 tablespoons Olive Oil – enough to coat the potatoes,
3-4 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tablespoon Fresh Rosemary, roughly chopped
Kosher Salt to taste
White Pepper to taste
2 tablespoons butter
Preheat oven to 450-degrees.
Wash potatoes and pat dry. Cut into large wedges.
Place potatoes in a large bowl. Drizzle with olive oil and toss to coat. Add garlic, rosemary, salt and white pepper. Toss well.
Pour potatoes out onto a rimmed baking pan large enough to hold potatoes in a single layer. Roast in oven for about 30 minutes, shaking pan occasionally to allow for even roasting.
When the potatoes are nicely roasted on the outside, tender on the inside, add butter to the roasting pan. Cover and allow butter to melt. Swirl potatoes through the melted butter just before serving.
Now mind you, nothing in this world compairs to grilled corn on the cob, cooked right in the husks and allowed to “steam” in its own natural flavors. And even if it is 80 degrees in January, good, sweet Slough-House corn is simply not to be had this time of the year. I’ve tried frozen ears of corn – something happens – I don’t know what, but I sure can tell the difference between a frozen ear of corn and an ear that was picked that morning. So what’s left? Canned corn. Now before you turn up your nose and walk away – hear me out. Sure, we all prefer our veggies fresh from the market, especially when shopping at a local farmers market – knowing that it’s only been a matter of hours between the harvest and the table. Can’t beat it. But that’s not always possible. So when using grocery store canned corn, here are a few tips. First, dran your corn well. Second, rinse it under cold water for several minutes to remove all the packing fluids. Finally, heat it SLOWLY in a sauce pat with just a pat of butter. Let the corn warm in its own natural juices. While it’s not fresh corn on the cob, it’s will do in a pinch.