Flame Seared Tri-Tip Goodness

Say what you want to about living in California, there are a few advantages. Being a conservative in a state controlled by liberals isn’t one of them. Loving a good barbecue on the other hand is. Californians, especially those in the central valley, can barbecue almost all year.

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Tri-Tip Hungarian Goulash over Noodles

We’ve done a lot of different things with tri-tip over the years. Tri-tip in a stew, tri-tip fajitas, and all sorts of smoked or rubbed briskets. We really like the beefy flavor of tri-tip. So why not make a Goulash using Tri-Tip?

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Mesquite-Rubbed Smoked Tri-Tip

When Hubby, Kiddo and I attend street fairs and festivals, there are two types of good-eats we are drawn to. Street Sausages from Lockford and Smoked Tri-Tip Barbecue Sandwiches. When given a choice between the two, the Tri-Tip generally wins out. Let me explain.

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Barbecued Tri-Tip Florentine Style

Hubby introduced me to the whole grilling up a Tri-Tip thing. Strange when you think about it because beautiful Santa Maria, California and not a small town in Wisconsin put Tri-Tip on the map in the first place. Or so it seems, depending upon which foodie folklore you subscribe to. Santa Maria, Oakland, Long Beach or Palm Springs. All these places claim to have put the grilled Tri-Tip on the culinary tongues of those who love barbecue. What do these places have in common? The golden state of California!

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Spice Rubbed Tri-Tip Slow Cooked Roast

Generally speaking, crock pot meals can be left on the counter to simmer all day. Upon your return, there’s something wonderful waiting for dinner. This is not one of those effortless crock pot suppers. It requires time to prep. Lots of time. If you have a hectic morning schedule, then this needs to be a weekend supper. Soaking wood chips, making a parchment-paper pouch, rubbing meat with a spice-rub (not to mention mixing up the rub) may require more time, effort and energy than what’s available on a crazy Monday morning. However; have a cup of coffee, relax and take all the time in the world to get your pot roast going, yeah that might be a Sunday supper.

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Tri-Tip Barbecue with a Gourmet Rub

A little over four years ago, in honor of Father’s Day, Kiddo wanted to be the Grill Master. So we let him run with it. Kiddo decided to ignore my planned menu  for Tri-Tip using a spicy dry rub. We had agreed to his offer to be in charge of the grill, and that meant letting him teat his skills from beginning to end. That included everything from picking the rub to building the fire.

Kiddo flipped through our various rub recipes for his Tri-Tip before electing to use a Gourmet Rub recipe. (I think it was the red wine that clinched it for him – he’s been on a red wine kick lately). I must say, Kiddo did a marvelous job with the rub and the grilling. The results were a Tri-Tip that was nicely charred on the outside, tender and juicy on the inside.  If Kiddo can pull it off on his very first try, anyone can.

I know, here it is October already. But with a little luck, we can squeeze a few more grilling days in before the season is behind us. So what do you say, are you up to taking a chance and doing a little grilling this weekend? Alrighthen!

Tri-Tip Barbecue with a Gourmet Rub
1 Tri-Tip Brisket, about 3 lbs
1/2 Tablespoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 ½ Teaspoons Sea Salt
½ Tablespoon Smoked Paprika
¼ Teaspoon Cayenne Pepper
½ Teaspoon Dijon Style Mustard
¼ Cup Red Wine
¼ Cup Olive Oil
6-8 Garlic Cloves, crushed
1 Teaspoon Onion Powder
1 Teaspoon Dried Rosemary, crushed

Mix all ingredients for gourmet rub. Rub into the Tri-Tip brisket. Wrap brisket in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 2 or 3 hours minimum – the longer the better. Remove from refrigerator, let stand on counter for 45 minutes prior to grilling.

While the Tri-Tip comes to room temperature, build nice bed of hot coals. Open the bottom and top vents half way, place grate over coals and close lid to heat, about 5 minutes. Clean grate and oil paper towels dipped in vegetable oil.

Raise coals to high position (or lower grate, depending upon grill). Grill meat, fat side up, for 3-5 minutes or until nicely seared. Turn using meat tongs (NEVER stick a fork into it – the juices will run out, and that just makes for a dry hunk of meat) and sear other side. Lower coals (or raise the grate, depending upon grill), cover and continue to cook meat 7-10 minutes longer. Check for doneness using an instant read thermometer. You’ll want the thickest part at the center to be about 140 degrees. A thick Tri-Tip might need to be turned for a final time and grilled 5-8 minutes longer.

The key to a juicy piece of meat is to let the meat rest 10-15 minutes after grilling to allow the juices to soak back into the meat rather than run all over the cutting board. Keep in mind that while the meat rests, it will continue to cook, raising the internal temperature as much as ten degrees.

When carving, go ahead and slice on the serving platter. That way, any juices that escape can be spooned over the sliced meat when serving for extra flavor.

Happy Grilling!

Tri-Tip Barbecue with Herb Dry Rub

One of Hubby’s favorite cuts of meat to cook up on the grill has got to be Tri-Tip. When cooked right, it is flavorful and tender, with just the right amount to fat-to-meat ratio to keep everything moist. With Tri-Tip, it’s not so much what the meat is rubbed with (although different combinations of spice and herbs does render various flavors) but how you grill it that makes this cut of meat so awesome. We like to make sure there’s plenty of rub worked into the fat as well as the meat.

Tri-Tip is grilled fat-side up to start, allowing the seasoned fat to melt down into the brisket, imparting all the wonderful flavors of the rub and the cut of meat.

I love Tri-Tip served with all the usual sides – country fried taters and Ranch Style Beans are two of my favorites. Late in the season, when fresh local corn is at its peak, there is nothing so wonderful as husk-wrapped corn cooked up right on the grill. While I have noticed ears of corn in the markets already this year, taking a drive out into the country lets me know it’s not locally grown. When the time is right for corn, we like to drive out to the farms that sell only what is picked that day. It means getting an early start because once the morning’s pickings are sold, that’s it – no more corn.

Tri-Tip Barbecue with Herb Dry Rub
3-4 lbs Tri-Tip Brisket
¼ Teaspoon Fresh Ground Black Pepper
1 ½ Teaspoon Garlic Salt
½ Teaspoon Celery Salt
¼ Teaspoon Onion Powder
¼ Teaspoon Sweet Paprika
¼ Teaspoon Dill Weed
¼ Teaspoon Dried Sage
¼ Teaspoon Rosemary

Mix all ingredients for Herb rub. Generously sprinkle Dry Rub all over Tri-tip. With your fingers, massage rub into the meat. Wrap Tri-tip in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour 15 minutes(longer if you need to or like to but no less).

Remove Tri-tip from the refrigerator. While still wrapped, allow meat to rest on counter for about 45 minutes. (Total marinating time for rub is a minimum of  is 2 hours).

While meat is coming to room temperature, build a nice fire in the grill.

Build nice bed of hot coals. Open the bottom and top vents half way, place grate over coals and close lid to heat, about 5 minutes. Clean grate and oil paper towels dipped in vegetable oil.

Raise coals to high position (or lower grate, depending upon grill). Grill meat, fat side up, for 3-5 minutes or until nicely seared. Turn and sear other side. Lower coals (or raise the grate, depending upon grill), cover and continue to cook meat 7-10 minutes longer. Turn and cook 6-8 minutes longer or until cooked to desired doneness. Transfer to platter and tent loosely.

The key to a juicy piece of meat is to let the meat rest 10-15 minutes after grilling to allow the juices to soak back into the meat rather than run all over the cutting board.


beef tri tip steak
While a Tri-Tip may appear to be lean, there is a fat side. Usually face-down in the meat case. While you do want a layer of fat, it’s okay to trim it back to about 1/8 to 1/4 inch layer.

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Gather all your ingredients for the herb rub, a nice bowl for mixing and your measuring spoons.

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Mix ingredients for herb rub into a bowl. Rub Tri-tip well with seasonings.

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Massage rib into the meat, wrap with plastic wrap. Place meat into the refrigerator for about 1 hour, 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator about 45 minutes BEFORE grilling. Rest on counter while still wrapped.

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Remove from grill, tent to keep warm and allow to rest 10 minutes. Slice and serve. If desired, spoon puddled drippings over slices for added flavor.

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Tri-Tip Barbecue is great with Country Fried Taters and Smoke-House Ranch Beans. Yummy country eating at its best.

Happy Grilling Everyone!

 

Grilling up a Dry Rub Tri-tip With All the Trimmings

For Earth Day I had planned an outdoor picnic to be served on our patio as we spent the better part of the morning and early afternoon planting our garden. One of the things Hubby and I love about our “new” old house is that there is a huge side yard, fenced off from the backyard, that is perfect for gardening. Although not in the best of shape, there are five planter boxes in the yard with good planting soil. When we moved into our 50-year-old home at the end of last summer, there were tomatoes growing in the largest of the boxes, while the rest had gone to weed. The tomatoes weren’t in cages, but rather poorly staked. It was difficult to tell where one plant ended and the next began – the tomatoes seemed to be growing wild. Hubby and I thought it best to let the plants die, then prepare the boxes for this year’s crop. We did not water the tomatoes, and yet those unruly plants continued to produce cherry tomatoes well into October! With no care at all, the plants thrived in the rich soil. We are excited to see what a maintained garden will produce.

Planting day was a glorious day. The sun was bright, the birds were singing and the sky was a beautiful shade of blue. A good day for a picnic. An even better day to fire up the grill. This is especially true when the local market had a buy-one-get-one-free special on grilling meats. Our grill has been sitting idle since January, when we grilled up some crab legs. It was high time we did a little backyard cooking.

a-cow-tri-tipIn our house, grilled tri-tip is always a barbecue favorite. While Tri-tip can be found in just about any grocery store in California, it’s most popular along the central coast and central valley.  Up until the 1950’s Tri-Tip was ground into hamburger meat. Then a man named Otto Schaefer  started selling the roast in his market in Oakland, California. From there, the popularity of this particular cut of meat took off.  When prepared correctly, it’s a wonderful, flavorful, tender beef treat that will knock your socks off.  tri20tipA tri-tip is well marbled, naturally full-flavored and is anything but pedestrian. You’ll want to look for a tri-tip with a thin layer of fat remaining on one side.  Don’t worry, it will melt away on the grill, basking the meat with its succulent flavor.  What I like best about a nice tri-tip is that everyone gets their beef fix cooked “just right”. Hubby is a well-done kind of guy (although he’s learning that a little pink is good), Kiddo is the medium of the road type, and I’m (you guessed it) just a notch about rare.  I like my meat warm to the touch in the center while still oozing with blood.

There are a few basic “musts” for a successful tri-tip that is flavorful, tender and juicy. According to all the experts out there, letting the meat rest on the counter for about 45 minutes prior to grilling has no bearing on the final outcome. However; my own experience tells me differently.  Allowing the meat to rest on the counter makes it easier to grill because the meat starts out at a slightly elevated, even temperature.  Unless you are using an indirect method of grilling, with lots of smoke, the less time on the grill, the better.  Next, it’s important to sear the meat well.  Not only will the searing give the meat a nice flavorful crust, it helps to seal in the juices. Finally, always UNDER COOK your meat. Grilled meats need to rest another 10 minutes after being pulled from the grill. Wrap well in foil to keep warm, and allow the meat to rest.  Two things will happen: 1) the meat will retain all its extraordinary juicy goodness instead of letting those flavors run all over the carving platter. 2) the internal temperature of the a thick tri-tip will continue to rise – as much as 15 degrees. If you cook it to your liking, then let it rest, you’ll run the risk of overcooking the meat. Tri-tip is best when pulled from the grill once it reaches an internal temperature of about 130 degrees. Oh, and one last tip – DON’T POKE the meat.  When grilled properly, a lot of poking, prodding, flipping and abundance of handling isn’t necessary.  The more you handle your meat, the tougher it will become.  No one wants a dried out, leathery piece of meat on their plates.  So when grilling, less renders more.

My hubby and I make a great pair when it comes to grilling.  I make the rubs and sauces for whatever we’ve going to throw on the grill, he builds the fire and tends to the meat while it’s cooking.  This allows me time to prepare all the sides to round out our feast. Nothing like teamwork and timing.


Tri-Tip Barbecue with Spicy Dry Rub
2 1/2 lb Tri-Tip Roast, trimmed
1 Teaspoon Ancho Powder
1/4 Teaspoon Cayenne Powder
1 Teaspoon Chili Powder
1/2 Teaspoon Chipotle Spice
2 Teaspoons Garlic Powder
1 Teaspoon Mustard Powder
1 Tablespoon Onion Powder
1 Tablespoon Salt, Kosher
1 Tablespoon Salt, Smoked
1 Tablespoon Sugar

Note: Smoked salt can be found in specialty stores such as World Market or Trader Joes. If you don’t have smoked salt, simply omit

Mix all ingredients for spice rub. Use a tablespoon or so at a time to rub into the meat.  Depending upon the size of your tri-tip, this will make more than enough rub to coat the meat well.  Store any unused rub in a jar and use it for another time.

Wrap the roast in plastic wrap, refrigerate for 1 hour 15 minutes. Remove from refrigerator, let stand on counter for 45 minutes prior to grilling. (Combined time is at least 2 hours. Longer time is okay).

Build nice bed of hot coals. Open the lower vents and upper vents half way, place grate over coals and close lid to heat, about 5 minutes. Clean grate and oil paper towels dipped in vegetable oil.

Raise coals to high position (or lower grate, depending upon grill). Grill meat, fat side up, for 3-5 minutes or until nicely seared. Turn and sear other side. Lower coals (or raise the grate, depending upon grill), cover and continue to cook meat 7-10 minutes longer. Turn and cook 6-8 minutes longer.  Transfer to platter or cutting board and tent loosely with foil to keep warm.

The key to a juicy piece of meat is to let the meat rest 10-15 minutes after grilling to allow the juices to soak back into the meat rather than run all over the cutting board.  Slice the meat against the grain as thick or as thin as you like.  If using for tri-tip sandwiches, thin is good.  Or wow your guests with a nice, thick tri-tip steak.


My guys are real meat and potatoes eaters.  Whenever we fire up the grill, I love to make either roasted potatoes or country fried potatoes.  There’s just something about grilled meats and roasted or fried potatoes.  Is it just me, or do these seem to go hand in hand?

Roasted Rosemary-Garlic Red Potatoes
8 Medium Size Red Potatoes, cut into wedges
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil, enough to coat potatoes
4 Garlic Cloves, minced
2 Tablespoons Fresh Rosemary, roughly chopped
Kosher Salt, to taste
White Pepper, to taste
2 Tablespoons Butter

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with foil, then lightly spray with cooking spray. Set baking sheet aside until ready to use.

Wash potatoes and pat dry. Cut each potato into 8 wedges. Place potatoes into a large bowl and drizzle with olive oil. Set aside

Peel and mince garlic cloves. Sprinkle over potatoes.

Strip Rosemary needles from sprig. Rough chop and sprinkle over potatoes.

Season potatoes with salt and pepper. Toss to coat the potatoes nicely.

Spread potatoes out onto baking sheet in a single layer. Roast potatoes in the oven for 15 minutes. Remove pan from oven, shake pan, then rotate and return to oven for another 15 minutes.

When the potatoes are nicely roasted on the outside, tender on the inside (about 30 minutes), remove pan from the oven. Sprinkle butter over hot potatoes. Cover pan with foil and return to oven. Let potatoes continue to roast, covered, for an additional 10 minutes.

Remove from oven. Place potatoes in a serving dish and enjoy.


Now mind you, nothing in this world compares to grilled corn on the cob, cooked right in the husks and allowed to “steam” in its own natural flavors.  I know, it’s 80 degrees in April. Still, it’s far too early in the year for locally grown corn. I’ve heard tell you can use frozen ears of corn in the off-season for corn on the cob. Personally, I don’t care much for frozen corn on the cob. I don’t know what it is exactly about corn that has been frozen on the cob, but it has a flavor and texture that is somehow off. All I know is I sure can tell the difference between a frozen ear of corn and an ear that was picked that morning. Yet I love corn with barbecue. So what’s left? Canned corn. Now before you turn up your nose and walk away, hear me out.

Sure, we all prefer our veggies fresh from the market, especially when shopping at your local farmers market. When it’s been a matter of hours and not days between harvest and market, the flavor is so much better. However; that’s not always possible unless you only eat what is in season. Yet you can make the best of canned vegetables. First, always drain your canned vegetables well. Rise under cold water for several minutes to “refresh” the flavor. Warm the vegetables over low heat with as little liquid as possible. That way you avoid “boiling” the flavor out as the vegetables warm in their own natural juices. While this might not be “fresh”, it will do in a pinch.

Buttery Canned Corn
1 Can Corn, well-drained
¼ Cup butter
Salt to taste

Drain corn and rinse well under cold to remove any of the packing liquid.

Place corn in a saucepan over low heat until all liquid has evaporated, about 5 minutes.

Add butter, increase heat to medium-low. When butter melts, stir into corn.

Season with a pinch of sea salt. Continue to heat until corn is hot, about 10 to 15 minutes.

Transfer corn to a serving bowl and serve immediately.