Tag Archives: tri-tip

Wall Street Journal says Tri-Tip is “New Cut”

So I occasionally read articles in the Wall Street Journal.  One that caught my eye was their recent “New Steak on the Block” article for several reasons.  The first was that they quoted Gordon Ramsay, and watching Hell’s Kitchen is a guilty pleasure of mine.  And the second is that they announced the “tri-tip” cut was being rolled out to the mid-west, and called it one of the new cuts of beef.

Now, I happen to love Tri-tip, this is still one of my favorite recipes: Barbeque: Santa Maria Smoked Tri-Tip, so it’s nice to see the rest of the country getting introduced to this great cut.  The other great thing about this article is that it also shows that more restaurants are getting into the idea of sustainable living and getting the most out of every animal butchered.

Very high-end restaurants like Gramercy Tavern in New York are embracing "nose to tail" cooking, in which almost every part of an animal is eaten. These chefs like to order whole animals to control the quality and ethics of their purchase.

Each week 900 pounds, about half a cow, is delivered to Gramercy Tavern. Its challenge is making traditionally plebeian parts of the animal acceptable to dinners accustomed to ordering filet mignon, says executive chef and partner Michael Anthony.

I love the term “nose to tail” cooking.  You reduce waste, and it makes great financial sense.  And for the record, according to R.H. Tesene’s definitive book titled Santa Maria Style Barbecue, “In the 1950s, a local butcher named Bob Schutz perfected the tri-tip, which is a two to three pound triangular shaped cut off the top sirloin.”

Barbeque: Santa Maria Smoked Tri-Tip

My wife got this recipe from the July 2007 edition of Cooking Light Magazine

I think this dish turned out really well. The meat was incredibly flavorful and my wife made way too much salsa. This was actually a bonus for me as I used the salsa in place of the tomatoes I would normally put on my brown bag lunches.

Now the meat we used is tri-tip, which comes from the sirloin area of the cow.

Tri-tip steak is also known as bottom sirloin or sirloin tip. While tender, it is also pretty far back on the animal and as such is one of the leaner cuts. A good rule of thumb for beef is the farther back on the animal the cut comes from, the less fat it will have.


3 cups hickory wood chips
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1 (2 1/4-pound) tri-tip steak, trimmed
Cooking spray
2 cups Santa Maria Salsa
Cilantro sprigs (optional)


Soak wood chips in water 1 hour; drain well. (Note: I usually soak my chips overnight. I couldn’t find my hickory chips in the garage, so I grabbed a hickory log, cut it down to size in my chop saw, and then used a hand axe to make little hickory chips)

Combine salt, pepper, and garlic powder; sprinkle evenly over steak. Let stand at room temperature 30 minutes.

Remove grill rack; set aside. Prepare grill, heating one side to high and one side to medium. Place wood chips on hot coals on medium-heat side of grill; heat wood chips 10 minutes. Coat grill rack with cooking spray; place on grill. (Note: I did this and had a problem with flare ups. What I should have done is just placed the chips in my little cast iron smoker box, below is a picture of the hickory chips after I’d taken the tri-tip off the grill, big flare-up issues!)


Lightly coat steak with cooking spray. Place steak on grill rack over high-heat side of grill; grill 6 minutes, turning 3 times. Place steak on grill rack over medium-heat side of grill; grill 40 minutes or until a thermometer registers 140° (medium-rare) or until desired degree of doneness. (Note: I took mine off at 135 and let carry-over do the rest)

Remove steak from grill; let stand 10 minutes. Cut steak diagonally across grain into thin slices. I like to use a serrated bread knife for cutting tri-tip because I think it gives me really good control and it just seems like I can get a thinner cut using it as I’m cutting against the grain.

Serve with Santa Maria Salsa; garnish with cilantro sprigs, if desired. We actually served it with left over home-made spring rolls. Here is what the finished product looks like:


8 servings (serving size: 3 ounces steak and 1/4 cup salsa)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 259(46% from fat); FAT 13.1g (sat 4.8g,mono 6.9g,poly 0.5g); PROTEIN 30.9g; CHOLESTEROL 66mg; CALCIUM 26mg; SODIUM 544mg; FIBER 0.7g; IRON 3.9mg; CARBOHYDRATE 2.6g

Santa Maria Salsa

Since my wife made this, no pictures or running commentary for you all. That being said, I highly recommend this salsa. It’s not really very hot or spicy, but it does lend itself well to leftovers. For example, I used some of this in an omelette I made the next morning, and tonight I used some of it to add a finishing touch to the sandwich I made to take to work tomorrow for lunch. Best part about it for my wife was that it was super easy to make.


2 (14.5-ounce) cans fire-roasted diced tomatoes with green chiles, undrained (such as Muir Glen)
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup finely chopped onion
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 1/2 teaspoons white vinegar
1/2 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
1/4 teaspoon hot pepper sauce (such as Tabasco)


Drain 1 can tomatoes. Combine drained tomatoes, undrained tomatoes, and remaining ingredients; cover and chill salsa at least 30 minutes before serving.

OK, I know I said no pictures, but here’s a really bad photo of the salsa that we have left in one of those Glad plastic containers…Still tastes amazing. In fact, I think the flavors blend very well over time and it’s actually a bit better after 2 days in the fridge.


4 cups (serving size: 1/4 cup)

Nutritional Information

CALORIES 10(9% from fat); FAT 0.1g (sat 0.0g,mono 0.0g,poly 0.0g); PROTEIN 0.4g; CHOLESTEROL 0.0mg; CALCIUM 13mg; SODIUM 236mg; FIBER 0.6g; IRON 0.2mg; CARBOHYDRATE 2.4g