I haven’t posted a cooking article in a while – in fact I’ve slowed down on my blog altogether. In March I returned to my old place of employment on a part-time limited duration basis to work on a major project they have undertaken. It’s been interesting returning to developer role after being a manager for so many years. I love, love, love the work – writing code for an Oracle based application. And the team is just fantastic – a dedicated group of professionals stretching themselves to do incredible things. But work is, … well, it’s work! Even part time (about 28 hours a week) is tiring. What I’ve discovered is that the very nature of work requires a lot of stamina and focus. Retired, I can work on something for an hour or two then go for a walk or do something else. Development work, on the other hand, requires sustained focused attention on solving one problem after another.
But I still find time to cook a bit. I sold my Pellet Cooker (Mak 2 Star) over Thanksgiving and this Spring bought a new Weber Performer charcoal grill. I fired it up once (but didn’t cook anything) just to get a handle on temperature control; but Sunday night it was time to do some real cooking – so I put on a Tri-tip roast.
There are probably many ways to cook a tri-tip roast but for a California boy the Santa Maria style is the only way to go. Granulated garlic, onion powder, kosher salt and three kinds of pepper makes this so, so tasty. You can find Santa Maria rub all over the internet, I use the one from Amazing Ribs. My recipe for the meal is here.
Rub the meat then start the charcoal
I bet that picture looks like I have everything under control. Well, I had a little (non-fire) adventure prepping the charcoal. To light the charcoal in the chimney you put briquettes in the top and some wadded up paper underneath – there is a wire cage that keeps to two parts separate. I read somewhere a long time ago that dripping or spraying some vegetable oil on the paper will help get a longer burn of the paper assisting getting a good start on the charcoal. I had (notice I said “had”) a little pump sprayer where you put oil in and pump it to get some pressure then spray a fine mist – like PAM but with oil you like. It must have been old and the seal deteriorated over time because when I pumped it up, it blew up. It is plastic and I didn’t get hurt, but oil went everywhere. My jacket (an old one) was drenched as were my jeans (newer ones), shoes, and the deck. After getting the charcoal started we cleaned the deck because it was dangerously slippery.
I used a Slow ‘n Sear to create an indirect zone. This awesome device can be configured to slowly burn charcoal in a Weber grill for about 8 hours if you want to smoke something. It also concentrates the briquettes making it great for searing. I was doing indirect here so I spread a layer of aluminum foil on the lower level of the open side and fiddled with the vents to get a temperature of 350° at the grill. I used a grill level probe to get the temperature, not the thermometer in the grill hood – which was showing 500°! The vents were over the meat on the indirect side drawing the heat.
Apparently I was a little rattled by my exploding oil experience because I totally forgot to put a chunk or two of oak wood on the briquettes. Sheesh! that is one of the big reasons to cook with charcoal.
Anyway, I put a probe in the meat and flipped it at 15 minutes to get it started; then I flipped at about 5 minute intervals until it reached an internal temperature of 125°. I basted it with a little garlic infused olive oil and red wine vinegar every time I flipped it. When it reached 125° I placed it directly over the hot coals to get a little char.
While the tri-tip was cooking I (well, Carla) prepped some small red potatoes: clean them, cut them in half, poke holes in them and brush on some of the garlic infused olive oil. Then sprinkle a nice dose of kosher salt and cook in the microwave on high for 8 minutes – turning halfway through if you don’t have a rotating table. Once that is done toss the spuds in a cast iron skillet and put on the cooler side of the grill when the tri-tip is getting seared.
When the roast hit about 135° I took it off and covered loosely with foil while I moved the spuds over the hot part of the grill. I have a little more detail on a slight variation of this potato recipe on a post from May 2014
If you don’t take some care in carving a tri-tip roast you’ll get some very tough meat and wonder what all the hoopla is about. It’s essential you carve against the grain. There is a line of fat running through the middle of the roast and the grain runs in different directions on either side. Check out this video for a great demonstration of how to cut it. Check out the grain before you rub and cook it, ’cause you won’t be able to tell after.
This turned out quite nice – maybe a shade more done than I’d have liked – that’s all part of learning a new grill.
Nice dinner. Carla roasted some broccoli in the oven with some olive oil and salt.
Dinner is served
Rating: ★★★★ This is a go-to summer recipe for me and I think the Weber kettle does it justice. There is plenty of surface area on the roast providing plenty of the rub taste: garlicky with just a hint of heat from the ground peppers.