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Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip

August 17, 2010

Been hooked on this Thomas Keller book – Ad Hoc at Home – it’s a beautiful book with lots of great tips/tricks from, arguably, America’s best chef and the recipes are easy, approachable, and taste fantastic.

Being from Nashville and the south, I’ve had my fair share of BBQ. I’m a fan of it all – sweet tomato sauce, tangy vinegar sauce, Memphis style dry rub, Texas Brisket, North Carolina pork – you name it, and I’m a fan. Recently, I’ve been reading a lot about Santa Maria (CA) style BBQ where they cook an untraditional cut of beef called tri-tip. When I saw the recipe in Keller’s book, I knew I had to try it out.

Santa Maria-Style Tri-Tip (Serves 6)

(adapted from Thomas Keller’s Ad Hoc at Home)

One 2.5 lb tri-tip roast (3 inches at its thickest part)

1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper

1/2 tsp smoked spanish paprika (Keller uses piment d’Espelette, but I didn’t have it)

1 tsp sweet paprika

Kosher salt

Canola oil

1 tablespoon unsalted butter

1 rosemary sprig

1 garlic clove, smashed

5 very thin orange slices (Keller uses Meyer lemons, we didn’t have any when I made this recipe)

One day before you plan to serve, combine the black pepper, smoked paprika, and sweet paprika and rub all over the roast. Wrap it tightly in plastic and allow the spices to penetrate the meat. Let it marinate over night. 30 minutes before you plan to cook, take the meat out and let it come to room temperature.

Preheat your oven to 300 degrees.

Heat a large, heavy frying pan over high heat. Season the roast with a lot of salt. Put some oil in the pan and when its really hot, add the roast and let it sear for a few minutes on each side. Flip it over and let it sear on the other side. Add the butter, rosemary sprig, garlic, and sliced oranges to the pan.

Once the bottom sears, put all of the aromatics (orange, rosemary, garlic) on top of the roast and stick it in the oven. Cook the tri-tip in the oven for about 40-60 minutes or until the thickest part of the meat registers 135 degrees. Once it’s cooked, take the tri-tip out of the oven and let it rest about 30 minutes in a warm spot. This is essential. For such a big roast, if you cut this, all the juices will come spilling out, leaving your meat dry. Let the juices redistribute and the carryover cooking happen. Once it is rested, slice the meat across the grain (be careful here because the grain changes on a tri-tip, so at some point, you will have to change the angle of your slice).

I ate this with some fresh corn (actually, starchy red corn from Whole Foods – cool stuff) that I just sauteed with some butter, onion, and then finished with a squeeze of lime and some chives.

Awesome to make in the summer. You could even grill/smoke the tri-tip for a grill out. Since it’s something unique and not the usual pork butt, brisket, or steak, try this out and I’m sure you’ll enjoy it.



3 Comments leave one →
  1. August 17, 2010 11:39 AM

    the red corn looks like a great vegetarian side dish – and it offers a nice alternative to regular corn!


  2. August 17, 2010 1:59 PM

    Thanks for the comment, Z! Red corn is also much starchier than regular white/yellow corn, so it would be great for making corn chowder, or as a way to thicken a sauce.

  3. August 19, 2010 10:10 PM

    Looks like you cooked the meat to perfection. I’m going to give this recipe a try.

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