I’ve been a huge fan of the Tri Tip ever since I started cutting meat in the late 70’s. It may not be the most tender steak in the case, but proper cooking and thin slicing cures that. Its flavor is fabulous, especially when marinated and grilled – and since it’s a fraction of the price of most other steaks, it has always fit nicely into my budget!
What is a Tri Tip?
The Tri-Tip roast/steak is a 1.5 to 2.5 pound triangular-shaped cut from the beef sirloin. Is it a steak or a roast? It’s actually both. Its flavor and tenderness is good enough to be a steak. But its size and shape make it ideal for roasting or grilling whole and slicing thin. Learn more about our beef.
The problem with the Tri Tip is that it’s not very convenient for the butcher. It’s located in an odd spot, making extraction a pain, and the triangular shape makes it hard to cut into steaks. Minor problems for a real butcher or a steak loving grill-master!
For years, the Tri Tip found itself as part of the bone-in sirloin steak, hanging off the end as an odd shaped strip that usually got cut off and made into kabob meat or cube steaks. With a mere 4-5 LBS or so per animal, nobody really missed it.
I’ve been cooking Tri Tips for over 30 years now and know them well. Firstly, I prefer cooking them whole and slicing thin because they taste better, are more tender, and they go further. Also, I always marinate for 24 hours. Any beef marinade you love will be great. My favorites are our Tony’s Balsamic Vinaigrette and our Santa Maria Marinade. The Vinaigrette is in our produce department, and we always offer Tri Tips ready to cook in our Santa Maria Marinade, which will be available in jars very soon.
Oven Roast Tri Tip
You can simply roast your Tri Tip in the oven. I like to do mine in the top of a 375° oven and use the convection fan at the end if it needs a more browning. Usually 30-45 minutes does it, but take care, they’re easy to overcook! A reliable meat thermometer is your friend here, I suggest cooking to 125-135° internal, remove to a plate, cover with parchment and a kitchen towel and rest at least 10 minutes before slicing as thin as possible across the grain (see diagram below).
Like Top Sirloin, the Tri Tip is also a great choice for stroganoff, and some folks cube it small to make an extra special chili – World Championship Recipe below.
Grilled Tri Tip
The oven is great for Tri Tip, but the grill is even better, especially when you use natural charcoal or wood chips. Brown both sides over direct medium high heat, and then move to indirect heat to finish cooking slowly. Keep an eye for flare-ups and start testing internal temperature after about 30 minutes, finishing exactly as above.
The Big Green Egg is the ultimate tool for cooking steaks (or any roast, or chickens, or ribs, or….). I set my temperature to 275-300° and they usually take about 2 beers to finish (3 if it’s really good beer).
The Tri Tip is an odd shape, and the grain runs in two slightly different directions. One great technique is to start at the point and slice all the way down on a bias. Another technique is to split the roast in two, slicing one from the point on down, and the other from the cut on down the tail. Either way I suggest slicing as thin as possible (drop your knives into our shop for a tune up) and slicing at an angle, or on the bias, produces larger slices.
Pick up a Beef Sirloin Tri Tip in our Santa Maria Marinade soon!
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