Tri-tip roasts are cut from the tip of the sirloin. The name comes from their triangular shape, and they are not readily available in supermarkets in some regions, so you may have to ask your butcher to cut one for you. Tri tips are not the tenderest cut of beef roast, so they are generally made into ground beef, but if cooked correctly and properly carved, they are one of the tastiest beef cuts available. Although they are traditionally grilled outside over a wood-chip enhanced fire, you can successfully cook tri tip on your kitchen grill.
Preparing the Tri Tip
Tri tips easily absorb marinades and are especially good when soaked in a mixture of red wine, soy sauce and chopped garlic. They can be marinated in the refrigerator for up to three days for maximum flavor. However, the traditional preparation method is to generously season the outside of the roast with garlic powder, kosher salt and fresh, coarsely ground black pepper. Tri tips usually have a thick strip of fat on one side which should be left intact during cooking to keep the meat moist and removed before serving.
Cooking Time and Method
To promote even cooking, remove the tri tip from the refrigerator 30 minutes prior to cooking. Tri tips usually weigh between 2 and 3 pounds and require about 30 to 45 minutes to cook to medium rare, which is the best degree of doneness for taste and tenderness. Sear the tri tip over medium high heat on the grill, turning frequently, for around 5 minutes. Transfer the meat to one side of the grill and finish cooking it over indirect heat, uncovered, for about 35 minutes, or until the internal temperature registers between 125 and 130 degrees Fahrenheit. Let rest at least 15 minutes and carve it against the grain into thin slices.
The first grilled tri tip recipe was reportedly created in Santa Maria, California. The traditional side dishes for that recipe included pinquito beans, a small, dry pink bean, mixed with canned tomatoes and bacon and spiced with mustard, chili powder and garlic. Other conventional sides include macaroni and cheese, tossed green salad, French bread or corn tortillas, and tomato-based salsa.
Optional Cooking Methods
Adding soaked oak chips to outdoor grills gives tri tip a rich smoky flavor. You can also prepare tri tip like a pot roast. Brown it on all sides and add to a slow cooker with some carrots, onions and potatoes. It's also good cooked in a moderately hot oven for 2 to 3 hours with the same vegetable assortment. When cooking it in a slow cooker or oven, add a bit of water to the roast to keep it moist. Remove the fat before serving and be sure to cut it across the grain to keep it tender.
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