Poor Man’s Prime Rib

David Billups

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If you are missing out on the wonders offered by the beautiful try tip roast, it’s probably for 1 to 2 reasons. One reason being you just didn’t know any better. Maybe you had it once and it was cooked right but cut wrong. Or maybe it was cooked wrong and cut right. Shoot I’ve seen it cooked wrong and cut wrong and when that happens it so forgettable. The other reason you might be missing out is because you just can’t get your hands on any. Made popular in Santa Maria CA, this roast can be hard to find outside the golden state, and although the latter is the more respectable reason for not having this tasty cut in your grilling rotation (grilltation), there’s hope for the former; you’re going to learn today what a tri tip looks like. For everyone else, don’t fret, Costco may be carrying them.

The beauty of the tri tip, when dry rubbed, and grilled on high heat until the internal temperature reaches about 130 degrees is that in about 20 minutes of cook time you can have a loaf of tender, tasty and crazily flavorful steaks that can be cut so easily with a fork and knife. Or like I prefer, pulled apart with the fingers or simply torn into pieces with what’s left of our canine- like incisors. You can class it up, or ash it down and because most backyard BBQers aren’t doing it right, or at all, you can surprise your guests, and when a fellow BBQer asks you, “what’s this?” You just look at him sideways like a dog that wasn’t quite sure what he just heard and say “tri tip.”

To get it going you want to find an all-purpose dry rub you like or you can make your own with a combination of kosher salt, pepper and other dry spices like rosemary. Me personally, I find Montreal Steak Seasoning does the trick.

If you have time after applying a thin layer of olive oil and a generous amount of your dry rub, wrap it in Saran Wrap and let it sit in the fridge overnight. If you don’t have that kind of time, skip the sleepover and put it on the grill. Grill it on medium high to high heat for about 7 minutes on each side until the internal temperature reaches 130 degrees. Don’t be afraid to let the outside get a little char.

Let it sit for 5 minutes then cut against the grain. Sounds easy enough but it’s not a no-brainer. It’s a bit of a brainer since the grain of the meat actually changes direction midway through, thus, so should your cut. Take a close look and study it before you apply the rub. It should make sense at that time and then you’ll need to make a mental or written note of what you saw because it will be tough to recognize it after it’s been cooked. You’ll need to cut it in half right down the middle where the grain bends and then cut accordingly.

This one takes some practice, but when you nail it down, you’ll have the best BBQ quickie there is. A 25 minute steak with the flavor and tenderness of prime rib. You’re welcome.

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