The Perfect Tri-Tip

Tri-tip is a great cut of beef that can offer you an inexpensive alternative to cuts such as rib-eye, new york strips, and other other more pricey cuts of meat. This is honestly one of my go-to cuts of meat that always delivers when you follow these simple steps.

Select your cut. Tri-tip comes in two forms as the whole roast or sliced down into steaks. Both of aforementioned applications have their purposes and honestly, you can’t really go wrong. More often than not I will choose the roast. Why do you ask? The simple answer is forgiveness. You don’t have apologize if you don’t want to. I am talking about the forgiveness of the meat as it cooks. I am going to dive into this shortly, so I don’t want to get too wrapped up in this right now. Oh, if you are looking for a money saving tip, and if you might find yourself using a lot of tri-tip, I would suggest buying the whole roast and either cooking it whole or breaking it down into steaks yourself. Side by side, the cost of you buying a roast and cutting it down or leaving it whole will be so much less than if you buy it shrink wrapped. However, if that is what you have available, it will do just fine. Cutting the roast as steaks is also great because they cook quick and can be marinated, so again, lots of ways to treat this cut of meat to make it flavorful and juicy.

Season your meat. You have heard me regularly remind you in these posts to season and/or adjust your seasoning, and this is no exception. Like with short ribs or steak, you will want to season more aggressively especially for the whole roast. If you are doing steaks, I would recommend reviewing my Party on the Barbie post for seasoning purposes. Okay, now that you know to season heavily with more than you need, what the heck do you season it with? Anything! Yes, the seasoning and spice options are limitless. Here is an example of a good blend of seasonings:

Fresh Ground Pepper
Garlic Powder
Brown Sugar
Onion Powder

Honestly, you put this in a dish in the right amounts and I will eat that straight out of the container. Okay, well, maybe only a couple of teaspoons. 🙂 Don’t forget to check the flavor balance of your seasoning blend. If you think it needs something, you could easily add it if you like. Do you like your mix to be a little spicy? Add a pinch of cayenne or another ground pepper of  your choice.

Believe it or not, we have actually been talking about marinade’s brother from another mother, dry rub. Just like it sounds, we aren’t apply any liquids to bring the seasoning together, we are just going to let seasoning naturally adhere to the exterior of the protein. By the way, this is another reason we want to season heavily because not all of it will stick. In case you are worried you can’t master this great technique, you already have. That’s right, we have already used this method in our Roasty Toasty Bird post.

Sealing the deal with finished internal temperature is the last key to our trifecta. For me, any steak or cut that isn’t a slow cooker application should be medium rare between 130-135 degrees when the meat has rested. I will include pictures so you can see what that looks like. Use your thermometer, Luke. Best suggestion I can make is to go out and by a digital thermometer so you can get an accurate temperature every time. You don’t need to take out a loan to get a good one unless you know you are going to use it enough to spend the extra coin. There are some ways you can check the doneness of your meat without a thermometer if you want. I will say, these methods are pretty accurate, but you will always get consistent results with a thermometer. Let me know if you are interested and we can talk about these other ways to check your meat.

As far as applying heat, I think the grill wins, however, you can do this on the stove top — just make sure your kitchen is well ventilated so you don’t smoke out your house and set off your fire alarm. Believe me, it doesn’t make for a good time I can promise you that.

Alright, your grill should be at medium high heat and make sure to let your grill or pan get hot first. If you are using a pan the oil should be smoking (you’re just looking for a wisp of smoke here, no big black cloud required). Use cast iron or a heavy-bottomed nonstick pan for the best results. Once you put the meat down, leave it alone! Sound familiar? Don’t touch it! This is how you will get that amazing char, color, and caramelization. I would say at least 5 -7 minutes per side to get the delicious crust on the meat.

After you get the initial crust, you just want to apply enough heat to cook the roast through. So, turn the heat down and move it off direct heat if the burner or grill is still too hot — and turn until the meat has consistent color on all sides. Pull your meat off the heat between 120-125 degrees, don’t worry the meat will keep cooking once you remove it from the grill or stove. So you want to give it 10 minutes to rest and let those juices settle back into the meat, and while it rests you will get the final 5-10 degrees you need for that perfect medium rare temperature.

Here is a finished, properly rested tri-tip roast. Once the roast comes out, tent it with foil to help hold in the carry-over heat.

This is cooked to a perfect medium rare.

Same shot, but a little closer. I think this photo speaks for itself!

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