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Grilling Tri-Tip Steak/Roast

Tri-Tip Time in Soucal

With the weather turning warm, it's time to get out the grill and get ready for Tri-Tip. Whether you call it a steak or a roast, tri-tip has been popular in the central coast area of California since the 50's. Tri-Tip is a triangular cut from the bottom sirloin. Rich in flavor, low in fat, this cut has been typically ground and added to the hamburger, or cut into cubes for stew meat. Now, it is becoming popular as a roast for outdoor grilling or oven roasting. Most Tri-Tip cuts will run from 1.5 to 2.5 lbs, but could even go up to 4lbs. The disadvantage of Tri-Tip is that like a flank steak, it can be tough. That's why most Tri-Tip recipes call for seasoning and marinating.


A basic rub consists of salt (kosher or sea salt), freshly ground black pepper, and garlic powder. This is known as a Santa Maria rub. Santa Maria, California gets credit for popularizing Tri-Tip. Thanks guys!

Optionally, you might add coriander, paprika, ground cayenne pepper, and oregano, or thyme. I prefer to use fewer ingredients rather than more. I'd use the basic rub and maybe add coriander and cayenne or other peppers to get a little more heat. Feel free to add and delete the options.

Apply the rub, cover the roast and refrigerate for 3-5 hours. Remove and let cool for 30 minutes to get to room temperature. Place the roast on a grill at medium heat, and cook for approx. 30 minutes. For me, there's a little guess work here, mentally adjusting the time for the size and thickness of the cut, and the heat of the grill. It's a thick cut of meat so it needs that time, but since it is also a lean cut of meat you don't want to overcook it. Let the meat cool for about 15 minutes and check with a temperature probe. Should be 135 for medium rare, 145 for medium. I'd rather undercook than overcook, because I can always put some meat back on the grill for someone who wants it more cooked.


Cut across the grain, and serve. Since this is a dry rub, I like to let the guests choose if they'd like to add barbecue sauce, A-1 sauce, etc. so I put these condiments on the table.


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March 09, 2015
Food and Wine
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