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How do you do Tri Tip?

I throw a rub on it, let it chill in the fridge for a few hours, bring it to room temp and throw it on the grill. But Im looking for other ideas . . .

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  1. Dry it off with a towel, drop it into a plastic bag with about a cup (more or less) of good quality bourbon and two cloves of crushed garlic. Let it live in the marinade for a couple of hours in the refrigerator and toss it on a slow grill.
    Works pretty well in a cast iron skillet too - and the gravy will keep them coming back for more.

    1. I love to trim mine a bit, toss fresh cracked pepper and granulated garlic and a tiny amount of cinnamon together and rub on- put in crock pot for 4-5 hours on low-- and pull apart for tacos. It is hard not to eat right from the crock. So darn good!

      We also love to oven roast slowly with just salt and pepper.

      1. It should be cooked low and slow. I would use a crockpot or a slow oven. Most times I've eaten if off the grill, it is tough, even thinly sliced cross grain.

        1. A Gastromonic treat: garlic powder, salt and pepper. 10 minutes on grill over direct heat, 10-15 over indirect. Rest 15 mins. Slice thinly against grain.

          Remove your hat and consume while kneeing with head bowed.

          2 Replies
          1. re: Billow Fair

            Tri tip is a cheaper cut of beef that can be tough and tasteless. That's why the Santa Maria tri tip (area of origination) is covered in salsa.

            1. re: Gail

              Tough? Yes, if you over cook it, and you can do that easier than some other cuts. Tasteless? Absolutely not! It makes a lovely roast with just salt and pepper. And at there's no better bargain (I just picked up one at 2.99 a pound, on sale). I'm glad more people don't know how good it is, or the price would go up. What am I saying! Avoid this cut. It's like eating old shoes.

              Seriously, though, it does require care. Gail is right, in a way. Low and slow is best. And a good sear first will add some flavor. But this is a cut for a roast, not just a pot roast. But for outdoor grilling where temperature control is not so easy, I wouldn't be surprised if lot's of people were dissapointed in the results.

          2. ...Oops, also a gastronomic treat.

            1. Trim it a bit if necessary, salt and pepper it, cover it with a clean cotton towel and let it sit at room temp for a couple of hours. Then I grill it in a grill pan or on the gas grill over direct heat for about twenty minutes (ten per side, roughly), or to an internal temp of 125º, then let it rest another twenty and slice thin across the grain. I have also braised it, which upset my California-purist father-in-law so bad I thought he was gonna hit me ("You POT-ROASTED tri-tip???"). In spite of that, it was incredibly good, as it should be; under another name (Tafelspitz) it is the greatest of the three cuts traditionally used for Viennese boiled beef.

              1. Puree garlic and pepper to a paste. Rub the meat with salt and the paste, and marinate overnight. Smoke with oak as low as possible to 140/145, sear it off if you like. Serve sliced thin on sandwiches or on its own with a sauce. Probably my favorite cut of beef for smoking.

                3 Replies
                1. re: Hombre

                  Ooohh, that'll work. Last camping trip was at a ranch with lots of red oak deadfalls, and a compadre started bagging up as much bark as he could. Not only does red oak bark burn, he said, but that's the "secret weapon" of the Santa Maria barbecue crews. On this advice I took some home. Now all I gotta do is figure out if I can use it somehow in the two heavily compromised outdoor cookers I have (gas grill, water smoker), or if I need to buy me one of those end-box smokers...

                  1. re: Hombre

                    I'm with you on the smoking, I always put 2 or three on the smoker when I fire it up, it freezes very well.

                    Will - the R2D2 water smoker will work just fine for this.

                    1. re: Hombre

                      I tried this last weekend and matched it against my traditional rubbed tenderloin and this one came out on top! Thanks for the recipe. Quick question; how much garlic and pepper do you use for a whole tri tip? i used a coupe cloves and a handful of peppercorns, put them in a mortar and pestle(not enough for my mini processor) and smeared on the tri tip. I did lose a good amount when i flipped it but the taste was definitely there . . .

                    2. Although I like the classic Santa Maria treatment- I often cut it in thick slices and then score (almost like large pieces of squid), then marinate with pomogranite molasses, garlic , soy and lots of black pepper for an hour or two. Then grill till medium. I can go into a coma with this stuff alongside a tangy cole slaw and potatoes done with cream, cheese and (caution- processed product coming up) El Torito green dressing.

                      1. You won't believe this, but in response to this thread
                        "Cooking a Frozen Roast Without Thawing, Good idea or bad?"

                        I have made this my favorite way of cooking tritip. I preseason with salt, pepper, maybe some herbs and other spices , trim a little bit (needs to have a good fat cap) and freeze (well wrapped). When I get home from work, I preheat the oven to 325' and put the roast in for about 1 1/2 hours (much longer than you'd normally cook a tritip.


                        From the forum:
                        "Frozen, presalted and -seasoned (pepper, garlic, thyme rub) tritip, 2lbs, 6 oz.

                        Preheated oven 325*, 5:35 PM

                        @ 7 PM, roast read 100*

                        pulled @ 7:20, 130*

                        Rested until 7:45, 140*

                        Uniformly juicy and pink, well seasoned (I love preseasoning before I freeze) and delicious ! I sometimes find tritip hard to cook because there seems to be a small window between too rare and overcooked (anything more than med rare) . I may never do a fresh one again, it was THAT good !"

                        I buy them on sale specifically to freeze for this use....Choice are far better than Select.

                        1. tritip is great. buy it unfabricated straight from your butcher and trim it yourself, get one with a thick layer of fat.

                          anyway, after cleane, i just s&p it, sear it rare, and finish cooking it in a pan of clarified butter. so its a good medrare.

                          tri tip is serious good eats, ive seen pieces so marbled it looked like kobe or waygu

                          1. If you're in California, use Pappy's Seasoning and grill it on direct heat, depending on size, for 10 minutes a side and let it rest and slice across the grain. You want no more than medium done, best at medium rare.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: Bakersfield Hound

                              My daughter actually worked for Pappy's in Santa Maria,many years ago. Is it still there?
                              That seasoning was so good. Thanks for the memories!!

                            2. Tri Tip is the cut of choice for competition level Chili. My favorite way to cook it is to dice it up, sear then simmer in pure red chile (pureed new mexico red's w/ traditional red sauce seasonings: cumin, garlic, onion, mexican oregano, cinnamon - cooked and strained) until tender. Use masa to thicken and you've got a tasty bowl of Texas Red.

                              I also love to throw it on the smoker w/ S&P... cooks much faster than a brisket. I've never braised one... that's what they make chuck shoulder roasts for!

                              1. For me the key to good Tri tip is allowing it to sit in the fridge with my favorite dry rub on it 24 hours before grilling. Take it out of the chill, bring it up to room temp by immersing it in a plastic bag into warm water. Grill, turning frequently until you get a good sear and it reaches the desired internal temperature. This cut is usually better a little more done than more tender steaks. Let it rest for 10 minutes. Slice in half with the grain, then slice across the grain into 1/4 inch slices for serving.

                                It is important to find out whether you are starting with the trimmed or untrimmed roast.. Trimming the excess fat and silver skin is essential before applying the dry rub.

                                7 Replies
                                1. re: EdwardAdams

                                  ....GOOD carving tip EA, especially for the larger roasts which can be unwieldy.

                                  ....Ditto on trimming the silverskin

                                  ....Grade of meat is important. Ask your butcher to get a box of Choice tri tip in and freeze a couple. More marbling makes the flavor better.

                                  By the way, true Santa Maria Style Tri Tip is not served smothered in salsa. It is sliced and served plain. Salsa is considered a condiment only, not a 'smothering' sauce. Tri-Tipo certainly does not want to be smothered in anything other than your own digestive juices.

                                  I've had delicious tri-tip cooked on the grill both Low & Slow, and Hot & Fast. L&S gets you meltingly tender beef, best cooked over low-med coals at about 250-300 degrees, to degree of desired doneness (use a remote-read thermo) H&F is best if you like rare to medium rare meat, and requires watching diligently, especially over charcoal fires of uneven heat.

                                  Last night we did a 2 1/2# choice grade (most supermarkets sell the lower priced select grade with less marbeling) Trimmed most of the fat and all silverskin and seasoned with just an s&p "rub" before placing in fridge overnight. Started over a small bed of banked coals in a Weber about 4 minutes per side, then moved off-coals for about 5 minutes. I got distracted (tsk) and let it go a bit too long. Pulled it and let it rest about 15 minutes. It was a bit less pink than I like, but tendeeeerrrr and juicy. Can't wait for sandwiches today on fresh french bread.

                                  For variation, I will slice into 1 /12" thick steaks and marinate in homemade Teriyaki for several hours. Cook over medium direct heat on a grill for about 4 minutes a side, then cover for another 4, depending on the ambient heat in the kettle, or to preferred doneness.

                                  1. re: toodie jane

                                    OK, toodie jane, I guess we are into a semantics situation here. The salsa is on the side, meant to be eaten with or on the meat. Tri tip is very popular in CA and just getting to the east coast. It definitely has a purpose when serving large groups. It is an OK cut. I don't buy it as I usually cook only for 2 and do buy better cuts since we are just 2. As a native CA girl, I have eaten it many times where groups are being served and it serves that purpose.

                                    Food is such a subjective subject.

                                    1. re: Gail

                                      Santa Maria tri-tip had an interesting introduction to California several years ago................by a Texan. A Texan who moved to California, and introduced the piece of the bottom sirloin to California.

                                      Frankly, the santa maria tri-tip has nothing to do with the "accepted" definition of "barbeque", anywhere in the US. The santa maria tri-tip is nothing more than a tri-tip, with salt and pepper, and a couple of inocuous spices, roasted on oak (usually with the bark left on the wood chunks), and served.

                                      Not bad. Especially if you live in California and have no other "barbeque" options, or frame of reference. And, speaking just for myself, not that great, for any part of "barbeque country".

                                      Having said that, the tri-tip is one of the most flavorful cuts of meat on a steer. Tender, easy to cook, as long as it is fast and rare to medium rare (as long as your eyes remain open), and easy to slice and serve with lots of serving options. Including chili, which would be a slower cooking method!!!!!!!!!! Everyone who has eaten my tri-tip, loves it. But, as someone posted here, "food is subjective". I suspect I could find a couple of million people in California who would hate a Texas smoked brisket, or "Elgin, hot link" sausage. Because they simply didn't have the cultural advantage of that kind of diversity. Like people I've met through my walk through life who would never eat a lobster, or an oyster, or a crawfish, or a shrimp, and some, who wouldn't eat a "green" vegetable. But, then again, diversity is the spice of life.

                                      1. re: dhedges53

                                        I think this pretty much sums it about the origin of the Tri-Tip.

                                        Long-term Santa Maria Elk Larry Viegas' memory is unclear on the exact date for the discovery of tri tip -- a barbecue favorite on the Central Coast. It happened some time in the late 1950s, he suspects.
                                        The one thing the Santa Maria man is certain of, though -- he was there when the first tri tip was prepared, ushering in a word-of-mouth success story for a cut of beef that was never held in much respect.
                                        Viegas, a butcher, was a summer vacation replacement at the old Safeway store at the corner of Mill and Vine streets in Santa Maria (now the site of a high-rise housing unit for seniors). He was cutting large beef loins into sections of preferred top block sirloin and fillet; the triangular shaped tips of the sirloin were set aside.

                                        No Texan involved here.

                                      2. re: Gail

                                        Gail, I' ll eat well-marbled ribeye or spencer when I can afford it for a special treat, but give me a choice grade tri-tip cooked outdoors slowly over oak coals anytine over most steakhouse fare. At $2.99-$3.99, tri-tip is a flavorful cut of meat we can afford and enjoy, and we do.

                                        dhedges: I believe it is called Santa Maria-STYLE Barbeque (and not southern style barbeque) for a reason. In other words, cooking hunks of meat outdoor over coals in the syle of Santa Maria roundups. The Spaniards probably brought the style of outdoor grilling to Nuevo Californio, because the ranchos were having round-up barbeques back in the late 1700's. It's a pretty straighforward way of cooking meat, simple camp cooking, and certainly not original to the Santa Maria area, they just adopted it as the style they like to do, and people have flocked to it ever since.

                                        For any one area or group to claim they have the corner on the term barbeque, well what about Korean Barbeque? What about Mongolian barbeque? What about Basque (yum--lamb!) barbeque? and on and on....

                                        Does the mysterious Texan have a name?

                                        1. re: toodie jane


                                          As you can see, the tri-tip didn't even exist as a "cut" until the 1950s. I don't know about "spaniard" santa maria roundups, except to say that for me, I don't like santa maria "style outdoor grilling". And although many people seem to "flock" to that style of cooking, I grew up on barbeque, and grilled meats, and the santa maria stuff isn't to my taste. And, I never referred to santa maria barbeque as "southern" barbeque. But, like all cuisines, I respect it's history. It is "california" barbeque, or grilled meat. Kinda like "New York" Mexican food, or Lodi French food.

                                          And although I understand that a lot of people from california like santa maria-style cooking, I was just saying it's just not for me.

                                          As for the Texan who brought the tri-tip to California, interestingly enough, I found that story on a California web-site that posted the history of the Tri-tip's introduction to California. I'm not going to spend the time to re-research it, because, like I said, although I love the tri-tip, I'm no fan of the santa maria stuff.

                                          1. re: dhedges53

                                            yes, tri-tip is a fairly recent introduction. History documents don't show what cut of meat (probably a full side) was used by the ranchero settlers in the 1700&1800's, but top block was the cut used at the Santa Maria Club dinners back in the 20's and 30's. As has been pointed out, tri-tip was introduced in the 50's at the local Safeway market, and has since become the backyard barbequer's cut of choice for SMSBBQ. Easier to handle and smaller than a whole top block for family gatherings.

                                            Here's a good encapsulation of the nebulous history of Santa Maria Style BBQ:


                                  2. I'm a little surprised by some of the posts on this string. For me, the tri-tip is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef I've ever eaten. Notwithstanding those who like the Santa Maria method, personally I'd put little on it other than salt and pepper. I tried Montreal Steak seasoning, and it wasn't bad. I've eaten the Santa Maria tri-tip a few times, and I know there are a lot of fans out there, but, for me, it wasn't very good. Just my opinion.

                                    I roast it in the oven or cook it on the grill to medium rare. And, although I've never done it, I understand, as posted earlier, it is one of the top chili meats. But, like porterhouse or a filet, I'd never cook that cut slow, for any reason. There are just too many other choices.

                                    1. I agree that tri-tip is one of the most flavorful cuts of beef. We do it a couple of ways -- Santa Maria style, and another, spicy Asian style. We take a good tablespoon of Chinese chili paste, dilute it a litle bit with water, then add pressed garlic, lime juice, salt and pepper and then let it marinate. Throw it on the grill and presto, a delicious, spicy tri-tip.

                                      1. I have spent a lot of time in Santa Maria.
                                        I've been to Buellton to the Hitching Post and to Guadalupe to the Far Western Tavern. Both are wonderful Wonderful WONDERFUL.
                                        Santa Maria tri tip is all about the red oak over which it is cooked. Salt, pepper, and garlic; over red oak.
                                        When you drive in Santa Maria you can smell it everywhere on the weekend and it is heavenly and like nothing else.
                                        The beans, the salsa, the rolls are all traditional ~~ but the tri tip is an experience in and of itself. It is all about the red oak.

                                        1. My favorite Summer meal involves the tri tip. I marinade it for 8 to 24 hours in tequila, granulated garlic, soy sauce, lime juice, olive oil, cumin and a few other ingredients - depending on how the mood strikes me. My husband grills it on medium-high heat to medium rare (watching it carefully - otherwise there will be hell to pay). We serve it with an avocado & tomato salad and simple fried potatoes. In fact, we're making it for friends again next weekend.

                                          2 Replies
                                          1. re: Mushroom

                                            sounds really interesting - whats the marinade recipe? im gonna try that this weekend. thanks!

                                            1. re: blackbookali

                                              Sorry for the late response (been having HUGE computer issues).

                                              Link to original recipe:


                                          2. I had never had a tri-tip, but found a wonderful recipe on these boards for Harissa marinated tri-tip. I thought the hard part would be finding the harissa in Baltimore, and it was, but I was able to mail order it easily. The really hard part was finding the tri-tip. I went to each supermarket, and even called some of the upscale ones...not a tri-tip to be had. I finally found one at Wegmans, but they had sold out....they got a new shipment, so I was able to get a one and a half pound one. It was very expensive...over 11-dollars, which surprised me. Anyway, I'll try to remember the recipe...1/4 c harissa paste, 3 garlic cloves minced, 1/4 c olive oil, s+p and a teaspoon of sherry vinegar. (I used white wine vinegar as I started the recipe without checking my ingredients first!) You mix it all together, and marinate the tri-tip for 8-12 hours. Then sear in olive oil on both sides, and stick the pan in a preheated 375 degree oven for 20-minutes...I overcooked it...should have left it for only 15 but it was absolutely delicious....and very tender! I'm sorry I didn't get a few more when I bought the original...wonder if my local Safeway can order it?

                                            2 Replies
                                            1. re: crosby_p

                                              Holly CRAP $11 per lb for Tri Tip!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
                                              Out in California, the average price is around $2.99 per lb where I buy ours.

                                              1. re: Bakersfield Hound

                                                YUP...All you can get at Wegmans is ANGUS

                                            2. I've never actually seen these for sale here. I've packed them as part of a Summer job while I was studying and wondered what people did with them and who bought them. And no one could actually tell me...might have to attempt to track some down now.

                                              1. What I do is season with a dry stuff. Always varies, but lately I've been using powdered porcini mushrooms (just blend dry to a powder, use any mushroom...).

                                                I get grill really hot. I sear one side about 7 min., then flip and sear the other. I start with fat side up. When fat side is down I sear less time as the fat will make the grill flare up. After searing both sides good. I transfer to the cooler side of my grill for another 10-20 minutes. I've learned, and you can too, to test your meat by pushing on it with your fingers and feeling for the amount of give.

                                                While I'm no expert, but no amatuer, this technique gives a nice crust, but allows the interior to cook through as desired. I get a nice even pink color throughout.

                                                Sometimes with small roasts I do a really good sear, then wrap in foil, then wrap in towels, and let it rest on the counter for nearly an hour. Learn this from an episode with Bobby Flay and his wife. I like it!

                                                1. When Mrs O's younger niece was attending UCSB, she'd periodically bring us bags of the Santa Maria pinquito beans as a gift. These come with a big bag of the seasoning, about three times as much as a pot of beans needs, so I'd use the rest on tri-tip.

                                                  Okay, Ralphs has tri-tip on sale through tomorrow, so I guess I gotta do what I gotta do …

                                                  1. Many years ago when I first tried it, I was told by the butcher to preheat the oven to 450. When it's ready put a salt and peppered tri-tip, uncovered, into the oven, set the timer for 20 mins and at the end of time, reduce oven temp to 350. Leave the roast in for an addtional 30 mins, remove at the end of the time and let sit for 10 or 15 mins. Slice against grain. I have never had a tough, dry bad tri-tip ever since.

                                                    2 Replies
                                                    1. re: Neta

                                                      ...and the size (weight) of the tri tip mattered not?

                                                      1. re: Gail

                                                        That has never been a factor for me though I only cook for two and tend to buy the size best for us. I would say this might be a 2 or 2 1/2 lb roast.