The tri tip cut of beef is dense, so cooking it to a well-done point is not recommended, as it will render it somewhat tough and flavorless. The goal of tri tip is to have plenty of pink in the middle. Contrary to popular belief, a dark pink center does not mean the meat is “bloody”; the coloring is actually from dye added by the butcher. As long as the meat is cooked long enough that the middle does not have a shiny appearance as it does when raw, it will be perfectly safe to eat. Here are a few different ways to cook a delicious tri tip cut:
1. Oven Roasting
Before roasting marinate the tri tip in Italian dressing for 2 hours on each side for a flavorful taste. Preheat the oven to 325°. Because this cut of meat is so dense, it will expand somewhat when cooking. This will result in some of the juices escaping the meat. To avoid juices being lost, sear the meat on the stove for 1 minute on each side in a hot skillet with a thin oil coating. It is important to use only enough oil to barely coat the pan, using an excess resulting in a shallow depth will result in a bitter flavor of the meat. Shortening is actually the best coating to use, leaving no after-taste. After searing the tri tip, place it in a baking dish with about 1 cup of water poured into the bottom. Allow the tri tip to roast in the oven for 20 minutes, then remove it. Turn it over and return it to the oven for another 15-20 minutes.
This method may be completed very quickly, usually less than 20 minutes for a hot broiler. Be sure the rack is at the highest point in the oven for best results. Preheat the oven to the “broil” setting, or highest possible setting. Put the tri tip on a plate and season each side with desired seasonings such as garlic, onion or meat flavoring powders. Coat a skillet lightly with shortening or oil and heat it for 2 minutes on the stove on high heat. Place the tri tip on the skillet and cook for 1 minute. Turn and cook an additional minute, then transfer the meat to a lightly greased broiler-safe pan. Pour a little liquid smoke or water and extra seasonings on top if desired. Broil for 3 minutes on each side, then remove the meat and cut it along the grain lines in 1/2″ slices. Return it to the broiler for 1 minute, but no longer.
Marinating the tri tip prior to grilling is recommended. Any mixture of marinade may be used, but the meat should marinate for at least 1 hour prior to grilling. For a gas grill set the flame to medium and cook the tri tip for 6-8 minutes, then turn it over and cook an additional 8-10 minutes. After turning the tri tip, glaze the top if desired but do not use the marinade that the raw meat was soaking in. For a charcoal grill, the meat must cook longer, about a total of 40 minutes. Turn the meat twice during cooking and glaze as desired.
This method should only be used if the tri tip will be cut into small bits or thin pieces. Pan frying will only take about 4-5 minutes for thin small pieces. Pan-frying tri tip is desirable for strips of meat for fajitas, salads or stir-fry. Recipes for these specialty dishes may be found on cooks.com.