Santa Maria Style Tri Tip
Arthur is broadening our horizons (and waistlines) again. Santa Maria BBQ is becoming quite popular. It normally starts with garlic (granulated, powder or salt), salt, and black pepper, as the base for a dry rub. The rub can be modified, but these three ingredients are the core of the rub. Once the rub is applied Santa Maria style BBQ is done over high heat, with purists using red oak. Beef sirloin or tri tip specifically, are the meat of choice for this style. It’s as delicious as it is simple. I’ll hand it over to Arthur to show you just how simple and delicious it is…
***Editor’s Note ~ Arthur has started his own blog and I’m more than happy to promote his on mine. His new site is called MajorLeagueGrilling.com***
Boy, I was so excited to see these in St. Louis, MO. Tri tip is very hard to find around here. It’s commonly found on the west coast because it was a cuisine to ranchers in the Santa Maria, CA region. Eventually, these west coast cowboys came up with Santa Maria style BBQ. This style has been expanding beyond Santa Maria over the years and I couldn’t be happier to try this unique cuisine.
The great characteristics of tri tip are: it’s lean, flavorful, inexpensive and it’s ultra tender when cooked right. I picked up a two pack of the triangle shaped beef roasts at Costco. As you can see, the name is given after the shape of the cut of beef:
Tri tip comes from the bottom sirloin primal cut and usually weighs in between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds.
The recipe is simple.
Course black pepper
No measurements needed here, use enough to coat the meat
First, I rinsed the tri tip off with water and pat dry with paper towels.
Second, rub the oil all over the meat. This process helps the spices stick to the tri tip.
Third, sprinkle on the seasonings. Start with the garlic, get a lot on there. This is the base ingredient to a perfect product:
Next, add the seasoned salt:
Finally, add the pepper:
Now, in the next phase, the grilling process is just as important as the ingredients. Authentic tri tip is grilled directly over high heat with red oak coals. The grills themselves are very unique. They have a large cooking surface fixed to wheels and pulley’s that raise or lower the grill grate meant for heat management.
Fortunately, I reproduced this on my kettle. A chimney full of lump charcoal was lit up and banked to one side for indirect grilling. I want to have a hot and cool side for this process.
But most importantly, for true Santa Maria style, I have chunks of red oak. I picked up a bunch from a BBQ store in Ankeny, IA earlier this year:
It is also a good idea to have a meat thermometer because we do not want to over cook the tri tip. Add the red oak to the hot coals.
Place the tri tip on the grill directly over the hot coals. However, do not put the lid on, that will only lower the heat. I seared the first side for 7 or 8 minutes:
I seared the other side for 5 minutes to get a great flavor crust:
Move the Santa Maria style tri tip to the cool side of the grill. I inserted my digital thermometer into the grilled meat. Then, I added a couple more chunks of red oak and put the lid on with the vents wide open.
After roughly 15-20 minutes, the interior temp of the tri tip reached 135 degrees:
I pull the grilled beef off at medium rare:
I let the Santa Maria style tri tip rest for 10 minutes:
When meat comes off the grill the juices are in an excited state from the heat. Letting the meat rest allows all the juices to settle down back to its proper place, so the juices don’t run all over the plate as soon as you cut into the meat. Resting allows for the juices to remain in the meat for the entire meal. During this time the interior temp jumps up to 140 degrees. As a result, the tri tip is cooked to medium. I would not cook it more than this as it can be tough to eat.
To serve, slice the Santa Maria style tri tip against the grain. When this is done, the meat pulls apart easier, as opposed to with the grain:
Now, I’m going to put down the camera and get my eat on:
Forget grilling strip steak, t-bone, or tenderloin, this is my favorite cut of beef hands down. Next time, I’m going to shoot for rare or about 125 degrees interior temp. I used the leftovers for steak burritos the next night. The iron skillet was used to reheat and it was still tender and tasty. I’m going back to Costco to stock up on some tri tip.
If you have any questions about the Santa Maria Style tri tip, feel free to leave a comment below or shoot me an email and I’ll send it over to Arthur.
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- 1 beef tri-tip roast
- Granulated garlic
- Seasoned salt
- Course black pepper
- Olive oil
- No measurements needed here, use enough to coat the try-tip
- Rinse the tri-tip off with water and pat dry with paper towels
- Rub the oil all over the meat
- Sprinkle on the seasonings
- Set up the grill for indirect/two zone grilling with coals and smoke wood on one side and nothing on the other
- Target temperature inside the grill is 300-325
- Add red oak to the coals
- Place the tri-tip right over the hot charcoal to sear
- Sear it 5-8 minutes per side depending on the heat of the grill to get some nice char marks
- Move the tri-tip to the cool side of the grill and insert a meath thermometer
- Add a couple more chunks of red oak and put the lid on with the vents wide open
- Pull when the internal temperature of the tri-tip reaches 130-135 degrees for medium rare
- Pull it sooner for rare and wait till it reaches 140-145 for medium
- Let the tri-tip rest for 10 minutes
- Slice across the grain and serve