Tri tip is one of my favorites. Since it hit my radar several years back, tri tip has made it to the plate in my household at least once or twice a month for quite a while now. It tastes great and you can get really good deals on it. I picked one up this weekend for $3.99 a pound! So, I thought today I would share my grilled tri tip recipe. It has evolved a little over the years and is totally delicious.
Now that I started this website I am actually gonna make an effort, going forth to try variations of my usual way of preparation. I am really excited about experimenting with spice levels and flavors and sharing the results with you all! But for now let me share how I grilled up my tri tip last night…
I like to season my meat at least a couple hours before I am going to cook it if possible. That doesn’t always happen however, so if you can’t don’t freak out. It will still be good. For the past few years, whenever we go camping, I season up the meat the night before and put it in an water proof container and put into the fridge until we are ready to load up the cooler. Usually, it ends up marinating for a day or two, and comes out even more flavorful and tender! But at home a couple hours works just fine.
On a side note I just wanted to add. If you are going camping and want to take food in an ice chest, make sure the containers you use are actually water proof. The only ones I have ever had work for me are the Rubbermaid tubs with the red lids. I have tried Tupperware and a couple other brands over the years, and they have all failed me. Nothing is worse than opening up your cooler to find that melted ice has water logged your dinner pans!
Using About A 2.5 lb Tri Tip
So with a little trial and error and a lot of food network my tri tip is very simple and pretty awesome. I generally slice off a little of the fat part on the underside. Just kind of thin it out, don’t remove it, that’s the good stuff!
The Wet Stuff
After trimming the fat, I drizzle a little olive oil on the tri tip and rub it all over. You don’t need much of it, just enough to spread it out all over. This is a little trick I picked up a couple years back, really seems to help it cook more evenly on the outside and keeps it from getting dry.
Then I sprinkle some red wine vinegar (not much- maybe like 1/4 to 1/2 tsp each side) and worcestershire sauce (3 or 4 shakes each side) on both sides and rub that all over. It helps to tenderize the meat.
Then I take a few garlic cloves and use my handy dandy garlic press (not sure how I ever lived without this) to get some fresh garlic into the mix…yummy! Sometimes at this point I take a fork or knife and go around and punch some holes in the meat to push everything inside. But honestly, I don’t do this every time, and I haven’t really convinced myself if it does anything or not. So it’s up to you.
The Dry Stuff
Then I add my dry seasonings. I like to stick to the basics. The spices I use always come out delicious and they don’t add any weird funk to something that’s already good (but as I said, I will be trying some new combos soon). There are certain spices you will never catch me adding to my meat…Things like fennel or rosemary and thyme. I want my meat to taste like meat, not black licorice or stinky feet.
So I shake on salt, pepper, garlic powder (not garlic salt), paprika for color, and sometimes I sneak some Steakhouse Onion Burger seasoning from McCormick on there. By the way I love that Onion burger seasoning and I highly recommend it, but I can’t say that I have liked any of the other McCormick Grill Mates so far.
I put a good dowsing of salt. The meat is so thick it doesn’t soak in very deep if you don’t get a good amount on there. You can over do it though. I did it once a while back. It was still edible, but I did end up drowning every bite in a little extra hot sauce to cover it up.
The Hot Stuff
Now, if it were up to me, I would also use a chili powder of some sort in my dry ingredients. I really like the spicy pepper dusts that are out there. They can add spice without affecting the flavor much, if you get the right product. I was recently gifted a Habanero Seasoning Mix made by Terana, and it is terrible. The first ingredient on the label is sugar. Not a good sign. It is literally spicy sugar, not something I would put on my meat. Maybe it would be good on pie or something…hmm I will try that.
You could also rub a good hot sauce on the tri tip, but I haven’t ever done this. I do with other smaller steaks, but not tri tip. Mainly, I have not done this because I buy tri tip to feed more than just me, and not everyone likes it hot. We were talking about it last night though, and next time we are going to cut off a chunk so I can experiment with spicing it up precooked for myself and you all.
I did try several hot sauces on the finished product though. Nothing really jumped out as a super star to me out of the 5 or 6 I sampled, but I did find the Ass Kickin’ Chile Lime Hot Sauce to be interesting. It almost tastes like A-1 sauce with lime in it, but its not spicy at all. It’s made by Southwest Specialty Foods out of Arizona. Looks like they have a lot of products. I have only tried 3 of their hot sauces, but I like the ones I’ve tried so far. The only complaint I have is that none of them have actually been spicy, just had good flavor.
Cooking Up The Meat
I usually cook my tri tip on the BBQ grill. Lately, I have found a really easy way to do it in the oven also, but that’s another post. Last night I grilled it up over charcoal as I usually do. So, just in case you not familiar with cooking big ol’ hunks of meat on the grill, here’s how I do it.
I use a can with a handle to get my coals hot. Decided a couple years back to avoid the lighter fluid. Once the coals are looking good- I like them when the top few in the stack are being fired licked but haven’t turned white yet. Seems to work fine for me. When I lay them into the bed of the BBQ I make it so its not spread out to one layer of coals. If you do this your coals will most likely not stay hot long enough to get your meat cooked in a reasonable amount of time. So make sure there is a bit of over lapping of the charcoals.
I also recommend you use all natural lump coal if possible. It is better for you than standard charcoal, which has additives. Also it burns cleaner. And as an extra bonus, it burns almost completely to nothing after your done grilling, which makes for really easy clean up.
Once the coals are ready, I like to get a good sear on all sides of the tri tip. I even prop it up on its sides to get them seared too. Once it looks good on the outside (browning all the sides may take 15-25 total depending on your coals), I move it to the back of my grill, off the coals.
Sometimes I don’t have enough area without coals to fit the tri tip. In this case I have a couple of options. You can scoot the coals over to make a clear spot, or you can just keep a real good eye on the meat. Sometimes during my browning session a couple parts look a little pale to me, so I will rotate it to where it may hang over the coal area some.
Then I usually shut the lid most of the way and let it cook. You can shut it all the way if you like with the air vents on top open, I just usually prefer a little more air flow. I check on it every few minutes to rotate and make sure no flare ups happen (but the shouldn’t because its off the coals).
Then I cook it for about 20-30 more minutes for medium depending on your heat, checking on it every 5 or so. I am pretty good at sensing when my meat is ready. You can always do the thumb test. It works well I think. Open your palm totally flat, extending your thumb out. Then use you index/middle fingers on the other hand to push on the palm of your hand in that meaty part near you thumb. When your meat feels like that its done. But if you like it a little on the medium rarer side you may have gone too far if it feels like your thumb.
Well, good luck and let me know how it goes…Hope you enjoyed my grilled tri tip recipe! Let me know what you thought and how it comes out if you try it. If have any spicy suggestions, please let me know!