The first weekend of July was upon us. It was the perfect time for friends and outdoor barbecue. I received the kind of phone call I could not refuse. “Come on over and have some tri-tip. We will put it on the grill.” said my friend Julie Ann. It almost did not matter what else she said: Julie Ann and Paul LaBouve are tri-tip experts, and we had come to love the cut of beef through the countless times we had it in their home.
Tri-tip is a cut of beef known well to people in Southern California, as the choice beef roast for grilling and sharing. Popularized around the central coast area of Santa Maria, the tri-tip is a low-fat cut that is full of flavor and has a tender texture. The meat comes from the lower groin of a cow, and is heart shaped, giving its namesake, three edges or “tips”. It was typically thrown away or ground into hamburger here in the East.
“Ranch hands in California made it popular.” said our friend Paul. “It was cheap meat that also happened to be very good in flavor and texture. We do it up the traditional way by marinating it and throwing it on the grill. You also have to have it with fresh tomato salsa. It’s the way that everyone does it.” he said.
I watched Paul at the grill. The meat had been marinating in a soy sauce, garlic and hot peppers for four hours. The grill was heated and the meat was placed over the fire to sear, and the cover was put over the roast. A few turns to get a crust on all sides, the meat finished in about twenty minutes. Paul let the roast rest for five minutes to let the juices redistribute. He sliced the tip on the bias. The tapered nature of the roast lends itself to both well-done and medium rare servings.
As we sat and ate, cutting into the succulent steaks, I told Paul that the tri-tip had just been featured in Food Network Magazine. “Finally, people are catching on!” he said. “I was so happy after years of asking for it at the Hannaford in Kennebunk, they finally started stocking it.”Tri-tip makes for the perfect roast to feed a small group and is easy to prepare and cook, especially for family gatherings around the Fourth of July. Tri-tips are found locally at the Kennebunk Hannaford’s or at Sheild’s Meats on Route One.
Kristin Fuhrmann Simmons / SEACOSTMEDIAGROUP ARTICLE
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