It’s Memorial Day weekend, which here in the US of A is considered the Unofficial Start to Summer, as well as being a three-day weekend. (I am glad my grandmother didn’t live to see this, as she would have disapproved of Decoration Day, as she always called it, being hijacked like that and not given proper respect.) It is also a huge weekend for outdoor barbecuing, and tri-tip is going to feature on many grills around the country.
I don’t remember seeing tri-tip until about maybe 30 years ago when it suddenly became popular, and that’s because it wasn’t available. It was either made into ground beef or sometimes cut into steaks or stew meat (which is still how it’s treated in the rest of the world). But then in Santa Maria, California, a butcher took the bull by the horns (as it were) and created tri-tip roast – if you’re interested you can read all the details right here.
I wasn’t all that crazy about tri-tip for a long time because it was almost always overcooked and sinewy and tough. I did find a foolproof way to cook it in the oven, but when it’s a zillion degrees outside, turning the oven on is a last resort.
After beef being sky-high for months and maybe years due to the drought (no matter what Donald Trump says, THERE IS A DROUGHT), we suddenly noticed the prices tumbling, and especially the price of tri-tip. It was time to get some and figure out how to cook it on the grill, and that’s where the internet came in handy. I won’t pretend this is a method I dreamed up; it was blatantly stolen from The Tri-Tip Guy. It’s a good method and quite easy, though there are a few points that are really important to follow in order to not screw this up.
An instant-read meat thermometer is essential for this.
TRI-TIP ON THE GRILL
All tri-tips look about the same and weigh about the same. You can buy them “trimmed” of fat for a nominal fee, but get an untrimmed one and do it yourself.
They look like this….
…until you flip them over and find a huge slab of fat.
Get a sharp, long-bladed knife, and start at one end, pulling as you slice. The fat will peel off as you work. Don’t obsess over tiny bits of meat that may come off with the fat.
You can go back and trim off any remaining large pockets of fat, which usually cause flare-ups on the grill.
Once you have your tri-tip trimmed, you can leave it as is or marinate it. We put this one in a bowl and poured low-salt soy sauce over it and added garlic powder and freshly ground pepper, and let it sit and think about things about a couple of hours.
POINT 1: Let the tri-tip come to room temperature.
Now get your grill going. For a gas grill, bring it up to 350. For charcoal or wood, you want a medium fire (to judge this, put your hand just above the grate without touching and count how many seconds you can hold it there – figure 6-7 seconds for 350).
Point 2: Once the grill is up to temperature, put the tri-tip down and put the lid or cover on for 15 minutes.
After 15 minutes, uncover the trip-tip and flip it over.
Let it cook undisturbed for about 15 – 20 more, then start testing with the meat thermometer. Could take 20 minutes, could take 40 0r 50 minutes. Go with the thermometer reading. If you want, paint some barbecue sauce on the top when it’s almost done.
When the tri-tip is almost up to the temperature you prefer, remove it from the grill. (The temperature will continue to rise during the next step.)
Point 3: Wrap tri-tip in aluminum foil and let it sit 15 minutes. Do not skip this step.
When you’re ready to slice the tri-tip – stop! Do not slice it the way you’ve been slicing – that is, slicing off the narrow ends.
Point 4: Slice it against the grain, across the widest part, and slice it thinly.
Once you grill tri-tip this way, you’ll be converted to this method. It turns this tough cut of beef into a juicy and flavorful roast on the barbecue.