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Finally, the tri-tip of his dreams: Russ Parsons


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article from the LA Times (requires free registration)

Even though it was almost 20 years ago, my mouth still waters when I remember my first taste of great Santa Maria barbecue.... For those who know Santa Maria barbecue, this will be no surprise. It is one of California's heritage foods, as much a part of the state's culinary soul as abalone and orange trees.

Delicious as it is when it's done right, Santa Maria barbecue can also be incredibly frustrating.

For so very long I have always thought of barbecue as a purely southern thing .. well, I do live in the region and had read about the myriad variations in barbecue: North Carolina, South Carolina ... and I had completely forgotten about the pleasure of other barbecue styles ...

From LA Times' Russ Parsons comes this highly interesting article on Santa Maria barbecue which will #1 make your mouth salivate and #2 make you consider trying to replicate his succulent results at home ...

Does anyone here grill a tri-tip?

Melissa Goodman aka "Gifted Gourmet"

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Once a week, sometimes more often. Poor Russ. See, he stopped in Santa Maria, where he got great tritip, but with pinto beans and probably grilled bread. He needed to come a little farther north. :cool: That is an amazing essay, however. I've never seen so much written about tritip.

Grilled Tritip with a Late Harvest Zinfandel and Black Pepper Marinade

Serve with a cranberry-Tequila salsa, Gorgonzola mashed potatoes, and/or a salad of mesclun, arugula, toasted pine nuts, and raspberries, with a vinaigrette of late harvest zinfandel, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, and fresh herbs.

A roasted pepper pesto goes well with a beer and chipotle tritip.

More recipes and tips for grilling tritips..

Warning: shameless self-promotion.

_____________________

Mary Baker

Solid Communications

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Fascinating piece. Interesting how often when one investigates the food of any particular region, one discovers their version of BBQ.

And no mention (that I could see, anyway) of sauce. So once again, it's all about the meat.

:biggrin:

I don't understand why rappers have to hunch over while they stomp around the stage hollering.  It hurts my back to watch them. On the other hand, I've been thinking that perhaps I should start a rap group here at the Old Folks' Home.  Most of us already walk like that.

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thanks guys, i'm glad you liked the story. honestly, tri-tip was something i'd never gotten around to cooking with and it was a real eye-opener. i did about a dozen of them in two weeks developing the recipe and i've cooked three of them on my own since then. i can't remember the last time that's happened. usually, once i'm finished with the research, i am thoroughly sated for a while.

and jaymes is correct: there is no sauce (and very little seasoning). it is so different from most traditional barbecues that i really hesitated to call it that, but that's what they call it.

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I loved this article! Years ago we detoured through Santa Maria on a trip north just to see what was what about this tri-tip tradition, and with the first sandwich we understood.

We've been cooking it at home ever after, on the old Weber, fat cap-up for incredible self-bastage, after a little upside-down sizzle to get things moving. We love to serve it as tacos to a bunch of guests -- sliced thin right on the board, pile of hot fresh tortillas, big bowl of fresh salsa, red or green depending on what's fresh. Appropriate bev. The sort of thing of which summer evenings are made.

(Tri-tip also makes excellent rich melty stew meat.)

Priscilla

Writer, cook, & c. ● #TacoFriday observant ●  Twitter    Instagram

 

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Great article!

Tri-tip was always a favorite cut of meat for the grill in our family. I was quite surprised when, after I'd lived in Minnesota long enough to have money for good beef, I started looking around for tri-tip and couldn't find any. Finally I asked at a meat counter whether they carried tri-tip. He looked at me oddly and said, "Are you from California?" That was the first time I realized it's such a localized cut. Nowadays one of the good Duluth butcher shops will provide it if asked; they know it's a good cut, but it isn't requested often enough to stock it routinely. I generally marinade it in my favorite all-purpose recipe, then grill it. Lovely stuff. Sometimes I'll buy two, and freeze the second (in the marinade) for later summer gluttony. I'll have to try some of these other treatments to see how they compare.

I'd never heard the expression "Santa Maria barbeque" before now, but at last I have a name to apply to these cool adjustable grill arrangements I've spotted near Mom's new apartment in Visalia. Thanks for that information, Russ.

And hey! Where else but in Coalinga will you see the oil wells painted up like grasshoppers, dinosaurs and dragons? :raz:

Nancy Smith, aka "Smithy"
HosteG Forumsnsmith@egstaff.org

"Every day should be filled with something delicious, because life is too short not to spoil yourself. " -- Ling (with permission)

"There comes a time in every project when you have to shoot the engineer and start production." -- author unknown

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Yes, it was a great article.

In defense of our other Russ, here on the CA board, I encourage you all to check the weekly LA Times Food Section Digest prepared lovingly and diligently by Russell Wong. You can find treats from Russ Parsons and his LA Times compatriots every week.

The Food Section is out on Wednesdays and Russ (Wong, that is) usually has the digest up that evening.

So long and thanks for all the fish.
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  • 11 months later...

I just returned from the motherland, we grilled 13lbs of tri-tip over a week and half period and ate much more of it (tri-tip sandwiches, tri-tip carne asada burritos).

I think typical Santa Maria trip-tip is overcooked (ie MW to well-done). I prefer to marinade and cook to medium rare and slice thinly, much like flank steak. I cooked all of the tips this way and not surprisingly, my extended family of well-done meat eaters enjoyed it very much.

Brought back 20lbs of cryovac'd tri-tips.

Edited by bbq4meanytime (log)
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I just returned from the motherland

Where is the Motherland?

I think typical Santa Maria trip-tip is overcooked (ie MW to well-done).  I prefer to marinade and cook to medium rare and slice thinly, much like flank steak.  I cooked all of the tips this way and not surprisingly, my extended family of well-done meat eaters enjoyed it very much.

I'm with you ! If we have to do one in the oven, it gets a scant 45 minutes @ 400" .

Brought back 20lbs of cryovac'd tri-tips.

:wub:

Where are you that you can't get tritip?

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I grew up in Camarillo but spent my youth and college years in Santa Barbara. We're out here in DC, and although you can now find tri-tip at Trader Joe's, its still not a well known cut around here. I got mine last week from the Sysco distributor for $2.89 lb after determining that Costco was a little high at $5 lb :smile:

When I'm patient, I still like to slice to slice the cooked tips with my meat slicer for old time sake :biggrin:

I just returned from the motherland

Where is the Motherland?

I think typical Santa Maria trip-tip is overcooked (ie MW to well-done).  I prefer to marinade and cook to medium rare and slice thinly, much like flank steak.  I cooked all of the tips this way and not surprisingly, my extended family of well-done meat eaters enjoyed it very much.

I'm with you ! If we have to do one in the oven, it gets a scant 45 minutes @ 400" .

Brought back 20lbs of cryovac'd tri-tips.

:wub:

Where are you that you can't get tritip?

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uhm, call me over-sensitive (go ahead!), but i just wanted to make clear that my tri-tip recipe referred to in the thread title is only cooked to the rare side of medium-rare. i do agree that most traditional central coast tri-tips could do with a gentler hand.

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I'm afraid I've come late to this thread but I cannot find the link to the Tri-tip article. I'm registered on the L.A. Times site but no luck finding it on the list of articles that goes well past June (and the link at the top of this thread doesn't work).

Thanks!

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here's the recipe out of my file:

Ultimate tri-tip

4 to 6 servings

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup oil

4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 (2- to 2 1/2-pound) tri-tip roast

In a blender, grind the garlic, oil, salt and black peppercorns to a coarse paste. Pat the tri-tip dry with a paper towel and score the fat layer with a sharp knife, cutting through the fat, but not through the meat. Place the meat in a sealable plastic bag, scrape in the garlic paste, press out the air and seal tightly. Massage the meat with the garlic paste until it is evenly coated. Set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour. If you are going to marinate more than 2 hours, refrigerate the meat but remove it 1 hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.

About 1 hour before serving, start a fire on the grill using 1 chimney full of charcoal briquettes, about 50. Put 1/4 pound of oak or hickory chips in a bowl and cover them with water. Place an inverted plate on top of the chips to keep them submerged.

When the flames have subsided and the coals are covered with white ash, dump the chimney into a mound on one side of the grill. Drain the wood chips and scatter them across the top of the coals.

Sear the fat side of the tri-tip, cooking directly over the flames with the lid off. This will only take 3 or 4 minutes. Don’t worry if there is a little char; that is almost necessary in order to get a good crust. When the fat side is seared, turn the tri-tip and sear the lean side directly over the coals. This will take another 3 or 4 minutes; again, don’t worry about a little char.

When the lean side is seared, move the tri-tip to the cool side of the grill and replace the lid, with the vents open. Cook to the desired doneness, checking the temperature of the meat every 4 or 5 minutes. It will take 20 to 25 minutes for 120 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes for 130 degrees.

Remove the roast to a platter and set aside for 10 minutes to finish cooking and for the juices to settle. Carve tri-tip fairly thinly (at most 1/4 inch thick), against the grain and with the knife held at an angle to give wide slices. Collect the carving juices and spoon them over the meat.

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  • 11 months later...
here's the recipe out of my file:

Ultimate tri-tip

4 to 6 servings

6 cloves garlic, chopped

1/4 cup oil

4 teaspoons salt

1/2 teaspoon whole black peppercorns

1 (2- to 2 1/2-pound) tri-tip roast

In a blender, grind the garlic, oil, salt and black peppercorns to a coarse paste. Pat the tri-tip dry with a paper towel and score the fat layer with a sharp knife, cutting through the fat, but not through the meat. Place the meat in a sealable plastic bag, scrape in the garlic paste, press out the air and seal tightly. Massage the meat with the garlic paste until it is evenly coated. Set aside at room temperature for at least 1 hour. If you are going to marinate more than 2 hours, refrigerate the meat but remove it 1 hour before cooking to allow it to come to room temperature.

About 1 hour before serving, start a fire on the grill using 1 chimney full of charcoal briquettes, about 50. Put 1/4 pound of oak or hickory chips in a bowl and cover them with water. Place an inverted plate on top of the chips to keep them submerged.

When the flames have subsided and the coals are covered with white ash, dump the chimney into a mound on one side of the grill. Drain the wood chips and scatter them across the top of the coals.

Sear the fat side of the tri-tip, cooking directly over the flames with the lid off. This will only take 3 or 4 minutes. Don’t worry if there is a little char; that is almost necessary in order to get a good crust. When the fat side is seared, turn the tri-tip and sear the lean side directly over the coals. This will take another 3 or 4 minutes; again, don’t worry about a little char.

When the lean side is seared, move the tri-tip to the cool side of the grill and replace the lid, with the vents open. Cook to the desired doneness, checking the temperature of the meat every 4 or 5 minutes. It will take 20 to 25 minutes for 120 degrees, 25 to 30 minutes for 130 degrees.

Remove the roast to a platter and set aside for 10 minutes to finish cooking and for the juices to settle. Carve tri-tip fairly thinly (at most 1/4 inch thick), against the grain and with the knife held at an angle to give wide slices. Collect the carving juices and spoon them over the meat.

Hey Russ,

I have a question about tri-tips for you.. I just purchased a big green egg.. I was wondering if you have any experience with them.. The thing gets up to around 850-1000 f. For example, the way I cook a double ribeye around 3 pounds would be to sear it for 2 minutes on each side, kill the vents, close the lid, and let that sucker sit in there for another 4 minutes.. This puts it at a perfect medium Rare.. Would a tritip work the same way, or am I looking for a lot less heat? To be able to sear a piece of meat at 800 plus is a great thing.. Should I smoke it first for a litte and then sear it at the end?

Edited by Daniel (log)
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I think the reason the tri tips are overcooked ( beyond med-rare) is that they use the "Santa Maria style" open pit bbq. Essentially a trailer w/a cooking box that has a grill top that adjusts up & down over oak. These usually cook a long time then are pulled from the grill and kept in covered warming pans. No telling how long they've been there. You can see these bbq's outside of damn near every liquor store, fast food emporium, grocery store and used car lots. Driving around towns here you can get tuned into a favorite spot that sells em' as fast as they cook them.

"I drink to make other people interesting".

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daniel: i have no experience with a green egg, so can't advise. well, almost no experience. a neighbor was moving out a couple of years ago and left one on the driveway! i went up, knocked on the door, intending to ask if i could buy it. no answer, so after a couple of days, i figured it was abandoned and free for the taking. only problem: the damned thing was so heavy I couldn't move it. figured i'd just stick with my old weber.

i think raoul is right about the overcooked part. i normally cook mine to 125 in the center--that's a nice medium-rare, going to medium at teh tips.

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