Tri-tip, cold off the grill

In last week’s post about Laguna Hills online fine cookware retailer Chef’s Resource, owner Rick Smith sketched out his grilled tri-tip preparation—it’s a Santa Maria-influenced approach, starting with a dry rub. Great results, I can tell you after cooking it. While tri-tip is certainly popular, it seems like a lot of people don’t cook it at home. I wish more would—it’s such a flavorful and easy-to-handle cut of meat, good hot off the grill with the traditional Santa Maria-style sides of crusty bread, salsa, and pinquito beans, or, as Smith pointed out, great as leftovers with his special horseradish sauce.

By all means, cook two roasts (the dry rub recipe makes plenty for two) and have the second for fabulous sandwiches or in a whole-meal salad. You’ll be glad you did. With a dollop of that fabulous sauce, thinly-sliced tri-tip, sliced cooked potato, and tomato wedges make a perfect hot-weather meal. I went the salad route in the first go-round off the grill, after resting—bed of greens, tomato, ripe avocado (Hass season is HAPPENING NOW), crunchy salt, cracked pepper, and a drizzle of oil and vinegar was all it took. And the leftovers—planned-overs—were delicious with the horseradish crema.

Smith cautions against using table salt, which can have a tinny taste, in the simple dry rub that coats the meat prior to grilling. (Too true. Salt is by far the most important seasoning in your kitchen—use a good one, and don’t stint.) He likes kosher salt, and sea salt is what I use in my kitchen; either would work for the tri-tip rub. (See Rick Smith using a Granton-edge slicing knife—one of his bestselling items—to thinly slice a tri-tip in this video.) 

Grilled Tri-Tip with Horseradish Sauce from Rick Smith of Chef’s Resource

(For two tri-tips)

For excellent, roast beef-like texture, chill and slice very thinly the next day. I frequently get asked to bring this item to parties—it works well in sandwiches or as an appetizer.—Rick Smith

Dry rub:

2 tablespoons salt, kosher or sea

1 tablespoon freshly-ground black pepper

1 teaspoon onion powder

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Whisk seasonings together in a small bowl, and generously coat two tri-tip roasts an hour or two before grilling.

Very thin roasts can be grilled over direct heat, but some indirect heat will be required for most to cook through without burning the exterior.

Cook, turning frequently, to an internal temperature of 125 to 130 degrees, measured in the thickest part. (Click to see Chef’s Resource extensive thermometer selection.) In testing, a 2-1/4 pound tri-tip took about 45 minutes. Remove roast from grill and allow to rest 10 to 15 minutes before slicing across the grain.

Horseradish sauce

1 cup Mexican crema, available in most markets’ refrigerated case

Prepared horseradish

Kosher or sea salt, freshly-ground pepper

Starting with about a tablespoon, whisk horseradish into crema until desired heat level is reached. Season aggressively with salt and pepper, until flavors pop. Ideally, prepare at least a couple of hours in advance and refrigerate. Serve with cold, thinly-sliced tri-tip.

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