May 21, 2017
We’ve had a few days of beautiful weather in the Portland (Oregon) region; it’s very welcome after the cold and wet winter and early spring we had. Our local school districts had nine (count them 9!) school closure days for snow this past winter. Normally we get maybe one day off of work/school in the winter due to snow. It was a stone drag. We really aren’t set up for snow in the metro area so an accumulation of snow really messes things up. Then we had record wet in March and April – hey this is Portland, so record rain is a serious amount of rain. But like I said, it’s been nice for a few days and the 7-day forecast is more of the same. (Feel free to tease me if I start complaining about the heat later this week.)
And every late spring when I get the grills out, tri-tip is at the forefront of my mind. You can search for it on my site for an interesting (?) trip through my grill history over the years. Tri-tip it is then. It was just the two of us for dinner so I got a 1.5 lb roast at our local New Seasons Market which has great meat, poultry, fish, and vegetables.
I’m a California boy so I always cook tri-tip the same way – Santa Maria rub of kosher salt, granulated garlic, onion powder, black pepper, white pepper, and red (cayenne) pepper. And I baste it with olive oil and red wine vinegar.
Then put a nice thick coating on the roast.
While that sits for a bit, fire up the grill. I use a Slow ‘n Sear attachment from ABC Barbecue [I do not receive anything for my recommendations] to keep the briquettes on one side. It’s great for barbecue; you can get a nice low temperature that will maintain for up to 8 hours. This cook uses a hotter grill for a much shorter time.
Don’t worry about that rusty looking grate. Once the briquettes go in, I slap the grill on and then brush it and oil it.
The tri-tip roast goes on the indirect side and we work to keep the grill temperature at 350° Don’t depend on the thermometer at the top of the lid – it gets real hot up there. We want to maintain the temperature at the grill level – you can see the probe in the next picture. When it registers 350° the thermometer in the lid is registering well over 550°
Oh, and for authentic Santa Maria tri-tip you need to use oak wood chunks. I let the grill get a little hotter than the target but it’s all good. It was done in about 45 minutes.
Slicing tri-tip can be a bit tricky; you need to slice it against the grain and there are two sets of grains in this roast. For best results cut it in half the short way right where the convex and concave portions of the roast are – about half way. Then rotate the piece on the left about 90° to slice. The smaller piece on the right can be cut crosswise from the small end to the big end. That’s harder to say than to do. I have 3 tips for you if you are just getting started.
- Take a good look at the roast before you put the rub on – maybe take a picture. Make a note of the grains to envision how you’ll cut it. Then when it is done; orient the cooked roast on the cutting board the same way you had it when you prepared it. Go from there.
- Watch this quick Youtube video for a graphical demonstration.
- Cut those little ends off and eat them before they get on the serving plate. Hey, you did the work, you get a treat! Similar to burnt ends on a brisket. Yum.
Once it’s sliced, serve it up. We had a great jicama, corn, and black bean salad to go along with it. A tasty simple meal for a beautiful day. The rub really makes this dish; it is so peppery. I think I got the rub recipe proportions from Amazing Ribs; but my original link doesn’t bring up the same rub; Meathead must have changed the way he cooks it. No worries; you can find my recipe here. And if you are interested I’ve posted my cooking log here. You can see I had the grill running hotter than I wanted. The right way to go about it is to get the grill completely set up and spend a few minutes getting the temperature right, then put the meat on. I was too anxious to eat I guess. Like I said, no worries; it tasted great.
Rating: ★★★★ An excellent choice for serving company – simple and delicious