August 6, 2017
Back in the day, after Carla and I were married (1976), her parents rented out rooms to foreign students going to Community College in the Bay Area. I think it was organized through there church, but I’m not sure. They had some very interesting students stay and we stay in touch with a couple of them all these years later. One of the visitors was David from Italy; he and Glenn (Carla’s dad) really hit it off – so much so that David went to medical school and became a pediatrician like Glenn. David visited the family in 1988 and we went to Vancouver, BC to the Expo. Later Carla and her sisters went to Italy and stayed with David’s parents.
Fast forward to 2017. David is all grown up and married and has a couple of kids of his own. The eldest, a teenage daughter, came over from Italy this summer to meet and visit the family. She is rotating around the three sisters’ houses and we are all taking turns taking her out to see the sights. Last weekend we threw a family party at our house so the extended family could meet her. I wanted to make a real American meal for her. Burgers and hot dogs were my first thought but I wanted to upgrade a bit. I didn’t want to spend all day barbecuing a pork shoulder or a brisket. Hmmm. Then it hit me: Tri-tip! It definitely represents the western US – I’ve heard it’s hard to get in the Midwest, South, and East. And, I LOVE tri-tip. I know I posted about cooking tri-tip not long ago, but what can I say? I had my camera out.
The rub is the thing; the Santa Maria rub I make contains plenty of pepper and garlic.
The other required piece of the recipe is a basting sauce of garlic infused olive oil and red wine vinegar.
I didn’t want to buy a bottle of infused oil so I made my own by sautéing four ounces of olive oil (I added more after taking the picture) and a LOT (10-12) garlic cloves passed through a presser. At first the garlic just lays there in the pan.
I used medium-low heat because I didn’t want to burn the garlic. In a minute or two it really gets going. It takes less than 5 minutes of simmering to get the garlic flavor into the oil. Be careful – don’t let the garlic burn.
After the oil cooled I mixed it with an equal amout of vinegar in a spray bottle.
Now it was time to cook. I filled a charcoal chimney with briquettes and lit them.
While waiting for the coals to ash over I rubbed the two tri-tip roasts. I cook tri-tip using the indirect method; I put the coals on one side of the grill and the meat on the other, positioning the air vents over the cool side of the grill to get the convection flow moving. Put a couple of small chunks of oak wood on the briquettes to really get that southwest flavor. Um, I had the chunks out but you can see from the photo they didn’t make it to the grill. doh!
I love grilling on our deck in summer – we are fortunate to have such a beautiful view behind our house. If you look closely you can see the cooking thermometer I use; one probe is on the grill to measure the temperature where the meat is; the other is in the thickest part of one of the roasts.
I cook them for about 15 minutes, then flip every five minutes spraying the oil and vinegar mixture until the internal temp reaches about 125° I flip them briefly over the coals to get a nice char.
They then rest under foil until time to slice and serve.
And then I encountered a problem with my camera. A few weeks ago it had a hard time focusing sometimes. I talked with Sony repair and they suggested I do a hard reset. Ugh, that would mean losing all my customizations and presets. I logged all my current settings and reset the camera. The problem was solved. Yay. For a couple of weeks. Boo. The problem cropped up again on this shoot so I had to put the camera away. That means no final picture of dinner and no picture of the people at the party. Dang and double dang. We had potato salad, corn on the cob, green salad and watermelon for dessert. I real American dinner for our Italian guest.
Although still a teenager our guest was very poised and so fluent in English so we were able to communicate easily. It’s been a real delight to have her visit.
My tri-tip recipe can be found here. If you aren’t vegetarian, I highly recommend you cook this before summer is over. It’s easy and delicious.