Leftover roast beef is a good problem to have, as these things go. That's especially true when it's roasted tri-tip, a cut from the sirloin offering a fine balance of flavor and tenderness. You probably already have a handful of go-to recipes for your leftovers, from simple hash to sandwiches, tacos or even pizza. Still, for a better-than-average roast such as tri-tip, it's worth digging a bit deeper and finding some less obvious ways to use it.
Tomatoes and beef pair beautifully, with the bright, savory acidity of the tomato providing a foil to the beef's richness. If you have leftover tri-tip to use up, consider matching it with fresh tomatoes rather than cooking it in a tomato sauce. Chop the tri-tip coarsely into bite-sized pieces and put it into a mixing bowl. Dice up the ripest, juiciest tomatoes you can find and add them to the bowl. You can vary the proportions to suit your own taste, but equal parts beef and tomato is a good starting point. Add chopped onion or scallions, fresh herbs such as parsley, basil or rosemary, and a splash each of olive oil and wine vinegar. Season the salad with salt and pepper, and refrigerate it for an hour or two so the flavors can become acquainted.
Quick Tri-Tip Stroganoff
For a hearty dinner, cook up a batch of broad egg noodles and use the leftover tri-tip to make beef Stroganoff. While the noodles are cooking, gently saute onion and sliced mushrooms in a deep skillet until the mushrooms release their moisture. Stir in a spoonful or two of flour, then add beef broth and a splash of wine. Cut the tri-tip into bite-sized strips and add it to the skillet. Once the beef is warmed through, turn down the skillet and stir in sour cream. When the sour cream is hot -- don't let it boil, or it will "break" -- spoon the mixture over your noodles. Garnish it with chopped parsley or fresh dill.
Nearly Instant Soup
If you have a few pints of homemade beef stock in your freezer -- or at least, a good brand of low-sodium commercial broth -- your leftover tri-tip can become a warming, flavorful soup at the drop of a hat. If you also saved leftover vegetables from the previous meal, dice those and the beef and add them to the hot broth for a nearly instant soup. Alternatively, add some barley to the broth first, and then add the beef and vegetables once the grain is cooked. For a more exotic meal, simmer the broth for a few minutes with star anise and a piece of cinnamon stick, until it's perfumed. Add rice noodles, bean sprouts, fresh herbs and thinly sliced tri-tip to make quick and easy pho.
To get maximum value from a relatively small quantity of leftover tri-tip, incorporate it into a pan of risotto. Start by softening onions in a deep skillet, than add mushrooms -- optional, but a fine complement to the beef -- and minced garlic. Add arborio or carnaroli rice to the pan, and stir it in the flavorful oil for a few minutes, to toast the grain, then add a splash of wine. Once that's cooked away, cover the rice with light beef broth and stir as it simmers. Continue adding broth in ever-smaller increments, until the rice is "al dente" and its starch has thickened the broth to form a creamy-smooth sauce. Stir in the diced leftover beef. When the beef is warm, finish the risotto by folding in a spoon of butter and a handful of freshly shredded Parmesan cheese.
Bulky casseroles and pot pies are common ways to use up leftovers, but individual hand-sized pies -- perfect for lunches and light meals -- provide a compact alternative. To prepare them, buy or make your favorite piecrust and roll it into rounds ranging from 3 to 6 inches. The smaller size makes a fine snack, while larger rounds create a meal-sized pie. Lay several slices of thin-sliced tri-tip on each round. Dice any leftover vegetables and divide those between your pies. Add a spoonful of leftover gravy or de-fatted drippings, for moisture and flavor. Moisten the edges of the dough with beaten egg or a cornstarch-and-water paste, then fold and seal the pies into half-moon shapes. Refrigerate briefly, to help the edges seal, then bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit until golden brown.