Whether by pan, oven or grill, give tri-tip a try

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Dan Bolyard/courtesy photo Tri-tip marinates well, but be careful not to overcook.

Tri-tip steak has never been my go-to steak, but I’m going to reconsider. Tri-tip is a very flavorful steak, boasting a nice beefy taste and tender chew. Although it is a lean cut of meat, it does have a decent amount of fat, offering a bit of buttery taste. It does take to a marinade nicely, and therefore will adopt the flavors of the ingredients.

I bought a whole piece, which is a triangle shaped piece of meat averaging 1 1/2 to 2 1/2 pounds and is found at the bottom of the sirloin. The name comes from the triangle shape (tri) and that it is at the tip of the sirloin (tip).

When I was a meat cutter, we would get these shrink wrapped from the processing facility, with a number of pieces per pack. The thicker end lent itself to cutting for steaks, while the thinner end usually got chopped up for stew meat.

The piece I bought was of usual size, but as I recalled, there was a sheet of tough connective tissue on the bottom side that needed to be trimmed off so the meat could be sliced later. I took my boning knife and got started under the end and then cut it off as I would fillet a fish; the knife tilted very slightly into the connective tissue, my other hand holding the tip of the tissue, and then working the knife along it until it was removed. You might not get the whole chunk off in one cutting, so start again as you need to. Getting this tissue trimmed off now will make cutting into steaks or portioning a cooked roast much easier later.

Because tri-tip is lean, be careful not to overcook it, particularly when cooking a full roast. Medium is as far as you should go with this. Use a thermometer to make sure you get it right where you want it.

PAN FRIED TRI-TIP

3 3/4-inch thick tri-tip steaks

Salt and pepper

Pan spray

Butter, melted

Season the steaks with salt and pepper and set aside for a few minutes. Heat a heavy frying pan over medium-high heat until the pan is very hot. Give it a spritz of pan spray before it gets to hot. Add the steaks; they should sizzle right away in the pan. Reduce heat to medium. After about 3 minutes, flip the steaks over. Using an instant-read thermometer, check the doneness in the middle. For medium-rare, you are looking for about 145 degrees. Medium will be around 155. When the steaks are nearly done, add the butter to the pan and finish the steak in the butter. Spoon a bit over the tops. This will give the steaks some last minute moisture and adds to the flavor. Use the resulting liquid in the pan as a sauce for the steaks when serving.

GRILLED TRI-TIP

Pan spray

3 3/4-inch thick tri-tip steaks

Salt and pepper

Preheat a grill to high heat. Before it gets hot, spritz the grills with a bit of pan spray. While the grill is heating, season the steaks with salt and pepper. When grill is hot, place steaks on the grill. Leave the lid open. Flip the steaks over after about 4 minutes. After another 2 to 3 minutes, use an instant-read thermometer to check the doneness in the middle. For medium-rare, you are looking for about 145 degrees. Medium will be around 155. Times will vary depending on your grill. Remove when done and serve right away.

TRI-TIP ROAST

1 (1 1/2-pound) beef tri-tip roast, thin end trimmed off and placed underneath the main part of the meat to help promote even cooking.

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon dried basil

1 teaspoon dried marjoram

1 teaspoon dry mustard

Salt and ground black pepper to taste

1/3 cup red wine

4 tablespoons butter

In a large zip top bag, place the meat, seasonings, and wine. Seal and gently work the bag to mix the seasoning. Refrigerate for 4 hours. When time is nearly up, preheat oven to 425 degrees. Place a frying pan over medium-high heat and add the butter. Remove the roast from the bag and pat dry. Place in the hot butter and sear on all sides until golden brown. Place roast in a baking dish and drizzle the butter over the top. Place in the oven and bake for 10 minutes before reducing temperature to 350 degrees. Bake for about 20 minutes then check the temperature in the thickest part of the roast with an instant-read thermometer. When it reads 145 degrees, remove from the oven and let the meat rest for 15 minutes before cutting and serving.

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