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🥩 The Best Dang Tri-Tip Recipe

Tri-Tip Lovers (1)

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“I turn grills on… ”

— Grill Masters Everywhere

If you haven’t cooked with tri-tip beef, you’re missing out on a delicious, relatively inexpensive cut of meat. What is tri-tip? It’s the triangular cut from the bottom sirloin of beef, popular in parts of California, with origins dating back to Spanish ranch hands who grilled the tri-tip over super-hot California oak coals. Lately, it’s been gaining traction beyond the West Coast. But no matter where you live, if you don’t see this cut, ask your butcher to cut a tri-tip roast for you. The traditional way to make tri-tip is to grill it Santa Maria-style, a simple prep that involves little more than a spice rub and a very hot grill to create the essential charred crust. You can also roast tri-tip in the oven, pop it in the slow cooker, or cut it into cubes and fry it on the stovetop. We have top-rated recipes for the traditional Santa Maria-style along with a few different preparations. Give ’em a try!

Santa Maria Grilled Tri-Tip Beef

The town of Santa Maria, California, is home to one of America’s most delicious barbecue specialties: black-on-the-outside, pink-on-the-inside, grilled beef tri-tip steak. The tri-tip is cut from the bottom sirloin, and if cooked properly produces a very flavorful, extremely juicy piece of beef.

2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons freshly ground black pepper
2 teaspoons garlic powder
1 ½ teaspoons paprika
1 teaspoon onion powder
1 teaspoon dried rosemary
¼ teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 (2 1/2 pound) beef tri-tip roast
⅓ cup red wine vinegar

1. Stir salt, black pepper, garlic powder, paprika, onion powder, rosemary, and cayenne pepper together in a bowl. Place beef in a glass baking dish and coat beef on all sides with spice mixture. Cover the dish with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4 hours.
2. Combine vinegar, vegetable oil, crushed garlic, and Dijon mustard together in a sealable container. Cover the container and shake to blend ingredients.
3. Remove beef from refrigerator, uncover, and let sit at room temperature for 30 minutes.
4. Preheat an outdoor grill for high heat, and lightly oil the grate.
5. Place meat on preheated grill and brush with garlic-vinegar mixture. Cook meat for 4 minutes, flip, and baste. Repeat the flip and baste process every 4 minutes until beef starts to firm and is reddish-pink and juicy in the center, 25 to 30 minutes total. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 130 degrees F (54 degrees C). Let rest for at least 10 minutes before slicing.

Thai-Dipped Beef Tri Tip

I enjoy beef satay way more than I do skewering small pieces of beef. Besides, I’ve never made satay, and not stuck a bamboo skewer into my finger at some point in the process. Not only did this involve less labor, but you can cook this in any number of ways.

6 cloves garlic, crushed
⅓ cup chopped lemon grass
3 tablespoons grated fresh ginger root
2 tablespoons grated onion
⅓ cup fish sauce
¼ cup seasoned rice vinegar
3 tablespoons soy sauce
2 tablespoons ground coriander
1 tablespoon ground cumin
2 teaspoons ground turmeric
½ teaspoon cayenne pepper
⅓ cup packed brown sugar
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 (2 1/2 pound) trimmed beef tri tip roast

1. Place garlic, lemon grass (bruised and chopped–see note), grated gingerroot, grated onion, fish sauce, rice vinegar, soy sauce, coriander, cumin, turmeric, cayenne pepper, brown sugar, and vegetable oil in a large mixing bowl. Whisk until ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
2. Transfer tri tip roast to marinade. Poke both sides of the roast numerous times with the tines of a fork to get the marinade into the roast. Cover with plastic wrap. Refrigerate 2 to 12 hours. During the marinade time, remove the meat from the fridge occasionally to turn and poke some more with a fork.
3. Transfer roast to a paper-towel-lined tray to drain briefly. Reserve marinade.
4. Preheat covered grill to 325 degrees F (165 degrees C). Lightly oil the grate
5. Cook roast covered, over indirect heat, basting with marinade and turning occasionally. Cook about 35 to 45 minutes, depending on how hot your grill is. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 130 to 135 degrees F (54 degrees C). Transfer roast to a cutting board and let rest at least 20 minutes before slicing.
6. Place any remaining marinade in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Simmer for 1 or 2 minutes. You can use this as a serving sauce.

Oven-Roasted Tri-Tip with Apricot and Pineapple Salsa

If it’s too cold to grill outside, use the oven to finish off this tri-tip. Served with a salsa made from dried apricots and canned pineapple tidbits, this main dish will make you think of warmer days to come. We enjoyed it with steamed white rice and broccoli.

2 teaspoons seasoned salt
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
1 (1 1/2 pound) beef tri-tip roast
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
¾ cup diced dried apricots
½ (8 ounce) can pineapple tidbits, undrained
⅓ cup diced red bell pepper
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons minced jalapeno pepper, or to taste
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1 clove garlic, minced
¼ teaspoon salt, or to taste

1. Combine seasoned salt, paprika, garlic powder, and black pepper in a small bowl.
2. Pat tri-tip dry with paper towels and place on a cutting board or plate. Rub 1/2 of the spice mixture on one side of the tri-tip, and rub the remaining mixture on the other side. Drizzle 1 teaspoon olive oil on one side of the tri-tip and use a pastry brush to lightly coat the surface. Flip the tri-tip and repeat with 1 teaspoon olive oil on the other side.
3. Tightly wrap the seasoned tri-tip in plastic wrap, or use a zip-top bag, squeezing out as much air as possible before sealing. Place in the refrigerator to marinate for at least 1 hour, or up to 8 hours.
4. Meanwhile, make the salsa by combining apricots, pineapple tidbits and juice, bell pepper, cilantro, jalapeno, lime juice, garlic, and salt in a non-reactive container. Seal and refrigerate at least 1 hour, or longer, if possible, since the apricots will soften over time.
5.  Allow tri-tip to come to room temperature, about 30 minutes.
6. Meanwhile, preheat the oven to 400 degrees F (200 degrees C).
7. Heat remaining 4 teaspoons olive oil in an oven-proof, nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Unwrap the tri-tip, and carefully place it in the hot oil. Brown each side, 3 to 4 minutes. Quickly blot any extra oil in the skillet with paper towels, held with tongs.
8. Place the skillet in the preheated oven and bake until tri-tip is firm but still pink, 15 to 20 minutes, or until desired doneness is achieved. An instant-read thermometer inserted into the center should read 140 degrees F (60 degrees C). A higher internal temperature is not recommended, as the meat will be tough.
9. Remove from the oven and tent with foil, about 10 minutes. Slice into thin slices, about 1/4-inch thick, across the grain of the meat. Serve with the chilled salsa.

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