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Friday, February 25, 2011

Grilled Asian Marinated Tri Tips

Tri tips are one of my favorite cuts of meat.  It's cheap, beefy, and if done right, amazing!  Tri tips' roots have been known to come from the Santa Maria area, in Central California.  As with a lot origins of good, tough meat, tri tip started with the landowners giving the poor ranchers this cut of meat.  It was thought by the rich to be a worthless cut.  It was tough and hard to chew.  These ranchers apparently were better cooks than the landowners and their personal chefs, and thus tri tip was invented.  (Of course the landowners were never informed of this.)
I've had my tri tip virginity taken away from me by Claim Jumpers.  Yes, Claim Jumpers.  I know, I know, chain restaurants blah blah.  Y'know what?  It's pretty bomb.  It's not going to compare with Anthony Bourdain's Les Halles or Mastro's Steakhouse, but it's still good.  Get over it.

Now, the key to the perfect tri tips is to not overcook them!  Medium at most.  (Those who enjoy their meat tough -- I mean well done -- can have the end pieces, these pieces are always well done.)  With this knowledge of meats, tri tips are eventually getting more and more popular.  You can find them at most grocery stores in California, but it may be hard to find them outside the Golden State.  If they're not available at your local mega mart, ask your local butcher for this cut, if they don't know what it is, it's the bottom sirloin from the primal cut (honestly, if they don't know what it is, you're probably going to want to find another butcher).  Tri tips are traditionally done with a rub of salt, pepper, garlic powder and onion powder... maybe a few more things.  I'm going to do it differently, and apply a marinade to it.  I want the insides of the thick roast to develop some flavor that only a marinade can give it.  It's also a plus that this marinade will help tenderize the roast too.

Anyway, this is my take on the tri tips.  It definitely has a different flavor profile from Claim Jumper's and its Santa Maria roots, but I actually prefer the infusion of hoisin sauce in the meat.  The marinade I make also gives the crust an amazing punch when you bite into it.  I'm sure you're waiting for it, so let me go over the directions:

(Serves 4-6)

1 tri tip roast, trimmed (they're usually 1.5-2.5 lbs)
6 cloves of garlic, finely minced
1 inch knob of ginger, finely minced
1/3 cup of hoisin sauce
2 tbs Worcestershire sauce
1 tbs rice vinegar
1 tbs EVOO
1 Thai chili, sliced thin (optional)
2 tbs fresh ground black pepper


1) Rinse and trim tri tip roast.  Mix all ingredients except for black pepper together.  Make sure it gets into all the nooks and crannies of the roast.  You want it all covered, you want that flavor.  If grilling, sprinkle on the black pepper to all sides of the roast.  If you don't have a grill and you're using the oven, don't add on black pepper until after searing.  Burnt black pepper is bitter.  Let marinade in a freezer bag at least 8 hrs, preferably overnight (sometimes I even leave it for two nights... if I can wait that long).  Again, make sure everything is covered.

2) After marinading and ready to cook the roast, take out of the fridge at least 10 minutes prior to cooking to bring to room temperature.  Save marinade for basting.

3a) (If using grill) Setup grill for indirect heating and preheat to at least 400 degrees.  Apply roast to direct heat and sear both sides.  After searing, place over indirect heat to cook through and cover grill.  Rotate around to cook evenly, if necessary.

3b) (If using oven) Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Wipe marinade dry as excess marinade will burn.  Sear all sides of the roast and bake in oven.  Instead of searing the roast, you may even want to use the broiler to get that crust.

4) During grilling/baking, you're going to want to baste on that wonderful marinade as you rotate and turn your roast over.  You only want to baste for the first 12-15 minutes or so, because you want to make sure the marinade is cooked.

5) Grill/bake until internal temperatures of the roast reaches 125 degrees.  This should take around 20 minutes... depending on how long you've seared the roast, and of course, the temperature of the grill and the thickness of the roast.  Take it off the grill and let rest for at least 10 minutes.  This is a large roast, so you want to give it time.  Cover loosely with aluminum foil.  During this time, the carryover heat will raise the internal temperature to at least 130 degrees.  If you don't let your roast rest, the juices will flow out of the roast when you slice it.  You will cry and babies will cry.  Don't make babies cry.

6) It's very important to cut against the grain.  Otherwise the meat will be too tough to chew.  Cut in 3/8"-1/2" slices.

Again, this is great to feed a variety of people.  The tips will be well done and as you go in, it'll reach medium and medium rare in the center.  I served my tri tips with a salad with homemade balsamic vinaigrette as well as homemade garlic mashed potatoes.  Roasting garlic during grilling is just an extra incentive for using the grill!  (Of course you can do this in the oven too.)  Try the recipe, let me know what you think, and most importantly, enjoy!