Monday, February 20, 2012

My Favorite Meat: Grilled


There are few things on this earth I enjoy more than grilling. There is nothing better than sitting next to my grill and drinking a weather appropriate beverage. 

When the urge to grill strikes me nothing will stop me. I have been know to sit under an umbrella in the rain, or bear the sun's evil rays on a 107°F day. The urge hit me this morning when I found a great deal on untrimmed tri-tips.

Today it's overcast and a cool 62°F -- a very nice day to grill. I'm cozied up in my favorite Dr. Who sweatshirt and hanging out beside my Weber tending a 5 lb. tri-tip with a glass of Guenoc Petite Sirah in hand (my stand-by red since 1997). My husband just opened up a window so I could hear the classic rock he is blaring (is that Warren Zevon I hear?). Now, I am in my happy place and life is all good.

Ahh.. the tri-tip. Perhaps my favorite piece of meat to grill (pork spare ribs come in a close second).  The tri-tip is the lower triangular portion of the bottom sirloin. *



I find a simple marinade is all this already flavor packed cut needs.

First, an intensive salt rub/massage:
  • Coat it in black pepper (for a 5 lb. tri-trip, probably 3 tablespoons coarse ground)
  • A dusting of garlic powder ( 2-3 teaspoons)
  • A generous coating of cumin, freshly toasted and ground in a mortar and pestal (2 tablespoons coarse ground)
  • A good slug of Worcestershire sauce (1/4 cup)
I put it all in a gallon size freezer bag and stick it in the fridge or at least an hour, and it can marinate in there for up to a few days. An hour or two before cooking, put it out on the counter to get to room temp. Give yourself about 30 minutes to get the coals ready for cooking.

When grilling the coals are always very important. Never, ever, ever use match-light or pre-kerosene'd coals. Get a coal chimney and use fire starters or old newspaper to light the bottom part of the chimney. The coals must be white with ash before you attempt to cook over them. Regardless of what you're grilling follow that rule. The acrid flavor of raw charcoal is easy to avoid with a little patience.

Follow these simple guidelines and you should be good to go:
  • Separate coals on either side of the grill for indirect cooking. You can put as many coals in each pile as you want (I split them in half), but the point is to have a cold section and a hot section for direct and indirect heating. 
  • Start your grilling by placing the fatty side down and cooking it for 3-5 minutes with the lid open; it should develop a nice crust. Flip it over and repeat. 
  • Close the lid and let the air temp rise to no higher than 300°F; maintain.  Adjusting the vents to 50% should adequately regulate the temp.
  • With your tri-tip, think low and slow: you want to let the fat inside melt, add flavor and become tender. You're looking at roughly an hour cook time if you can maintain a steady 300°F air temp.
  • Cook the meat to an internal temp of 132-5°F for rarer meat, 140°F for more medium.  Remember that carry-over cooking will keep the temp rising for a while after meat is taken off the grill.
  • Remove meat and let rest for at least 15 minutes.