Well. Tom has mentioned Santa Maria Tri Tip several times the past year, so I thought I better try it. We've often done tri tip, but not Santa Maria style, which is very popular on the central coast of California..
First, a little background on tri tip. It's primarily a West Coast thing but can be found back east. Tri tip is a wonderful cut of meat, very good flavor and tender. People have described the flavor as bold as "rib eye" but fortunately it's much cheaper. The Virtual Webber Bullet does a good job of explaining this cut. It is also called "bottom sirloin roast" or "triangle roast".
I've heard Trader Joe carries it back east. So, if you're near one, go over and see if they have it. If so, buy it. Get on the internet and Google "Santa Maria Tri Tip". Delicious.
Here's a picture of two tri tips. The shape tells you how it got its name. Another thing to notice is how well marbled this cut of meat is.
The night before Mother's day I rubbed and sprinkled the meat with Santa Maria rub. It's a tasty rub and can be used on other cuts of meat. Here's the recipe I used:
Santa Maria Rub
1 tablespoon black pepper, fresh-ground
2 teaspoons granulated garlic
1 teaspoon granulated onion
1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon rosemary
1 teaspoon salt
I used some multiple of this to have some for future use.
Now, Santa Maria Tri Tip is primarily grilled, but what the heck, I own a Cookshack. So I smoked the meat first then grilled to finish. I let the meat rest on the counter for 30 minutes then placed it into a 200* preheated smoker until it hit an internal of 95*, roughly an hour. Oak is typically used for Santa Maria but I used mesquite since I didn't have oak. The meat was 45* when I placed it into the smoker.
Since the meat was going to be on the grill for a shorter length of time, I thought I'd mop it for better bark (nice grill flareups). I used the typical Santa Maria mop of a cup of red wine vinegar and a cup of garlic infused vegetable oil (grape seed for me). To that I added a teaspoon of mustard (it helps emulsify the mixture), some pepper. Many don't use the mop. Here's the meat right off the grill. Pulled the meat at 127*.
I let it sit under loose foil for 30 minutes then sliced the meat. It was so juicy my cutting board trough overflowed.
We had Kaiser rolls dipped in au jus and made tri tip sandwiches. That's why I sliced it thinner than normal. Some sides. Some merlot. Absolutely delicious. Tender, moist, smokey, grilled flavor.
There are only two tri tips per cow. So the two I cooked represented the product from one cow--not much there. My only concern is if this cut becomes as popular in the rest of the country as it is out west, then the cost of tri tip will soar.