Juicy, Perfectly Seasoned & Oak Grilled Tri-Tip with a lot of help from Susie-Q's products.
Traditional Santa Maria Pinquito Beans from Susie Q's Brand
Labor Day can be a bittersweet farewell as summer is ready to pack up and leave us until next year. Already, my cooking magazines are featuring roasted turkey recipes and pumpkin pies! Excuse me? We folks on the Central Coast of California are just now gearing up for our typical Indian Summer weather! My Weber grill is still longing to be fired up! My local farm stand is still picking luscious strawberries and there are still plenty of corn stalks waiting to be harvested and thrown onto the grill. That's exactly what we will be doing for this three day weekend. My soups and stews recipes can wait a few more weeks-- as far as I'm concerned, we love to grill year-round. Period.
Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip. He asked if I could like to try some of Susie Q's Santa Maria seasonings. I thought about it for a non-second and immediately replied "please and thank you". I received the box above. I wanted to wait for a sunny day to grill outside. For those of you who live in my area (Monterey, California), you can vouch for the fact that we have had an unseasonably cool summer with lots of fog and overcast skies. This weekend blessed us with the perfect grilling weather, so I headed off to Whole Foods to buy tri-tip. For those of you who are unfamiliar with this cut of beef, tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin primal cut. It is a small triangular muscle (hence, the name), usually 1.5 to 2.5 lbs.
#1 - If you can buy grass fed beef (rather than grain fed), it's totally worth it. I've become more aware of what is being fed to what I plan to consume (just watch the film "Food Inc" and you will understand). I can taste the difference in flavor and texture. Seriously!
#2 - Grass fed beef is becoming more widely available in grocery stores. I'm fortunate to live near a Whole Foods. $6.99 a pound, to me, costs more than grain fed beef. Still, I think it's worth spending a few dollars more. Since I was cooking for 2-3 people, I bought a small piece-- this one weighs less than 2 pounds.
(If you'd like to more info on why grass fed beef is healthier for you, you can click here.)
They resemble pink beans, only a little smaller. I sorted and washed the beans. Then, I opened the seasoning packet. There are a lot of spices and aromatics going on!
Per the instructions, I added water and gave it a stir. I brought the beans to a boil, covered them and let them simmer. The instructions said for two hours, but I allowed for three. Easy! 30 minutes before starting the coals, I brought the meat to room temperature. I seasoned the tri-tip with Susie Q's Santa Maria Style Seasoning.
So, what makes this Santa Maria Style? Santa Maria Style Barbecue requires a specific preparation. The favored cuts of meat are top block sirloin and tri-tip. Before cooking, the meat is seasoned with a special blend of salt, black pepper and garlic salt. The meat is then grilled over coals of red oak, a wood that is native to the region, giving the meat a hearty, smoky flavor. The seasoning smelled wonderful as I took a whiff of it. I was inspired to make a compound butter for grilled corn:
To one stick of butter, I added some of the seasoning (I "eyeballed" it... a couple of teaspoons, I'd guess). I added fresh chopped cilantro and some lime juice. I debated adding some chili powder, but I figured the beans would be spicy enough. I chilled the butter, until it was time to serve the grilled corn. Speaking of grilling-- I didn't photograph the process of setting up the charcoal or soaking oak chips, since I've already blogged that part. (You can always view it here.) Once the meat was seared over direct coals, Craig added the Susie Q's Red Oak Chips, that had been soaked for about an hour. The meat was moved to indirect heat (to the side away from the hot coals). Ah, the smoke is building!
Rodeos in the World. I grew up riding on ranches, have owned horses and have hung out with plenty of cowboys and ranchers. I've been fortunate to experience authentic ranch style barbecue. Nothing beats cooking over authentic oak wood! It's such a great flavor. But, I now live in the 'burbs. A Weber grill will just have to be a substitute. Craig grilled the meat until it reached 130F (we like ours medium-pink) and we let it rest, knowing it would continue to cook.
The corn is rolled around so that the cilantro-lime butter is evenly coated...
Of course, I had to make the Pioneer Woman's Restaurant Style Salsa.
Now, for the moment of truth on the Tri-Tip...
VERDICT: Let's start with the beef. (Doing a happy dance). The seasoning is spot on! It's not too salty, not too much garlic. The pepper ratio is perfect. To me, Tri-Tip doesn't need sauce. No way! The meat is tender, and the smoky oak flavor... I can almost hear the cattle lowing, the cowboys are coming home! This is Santa Maria Style barbecue. The corn was sweet and tender and the seasoning was perfect for the cilantro-lime butter. The beans were a hit. The oak chips are such a treat for adding a smoky flavor, even with a weber (or you can also make a foil smoke packet for a gas grill). I still like my other version of Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip, but I think this is easier and-- dare I say-- I think it's better!
Craig and I live less than four hours from Santa Maria, California. The next time we drive south, I hope that we can visit to the family restaurant, at the Far West Tavern. I hope that's sooner, rather than later.