Jan and Chris both asked me to do another barbecued tri-tip. The last time I did a tri-tip I used a Californian-Mexican seasoning. This time I thought I would jump to another continent and do North African.
Note: Miriam really liked my orange and corn salad that I served with my last tri-tip. She has requested something with corn and stone fruit. I will have to think of same way to make that “Moroccan.” I am also making a Keto artichoke tajine, so Chris does not have to live on meat alone.
Chermoula is one of those North African spice blends/sauces/marinades where each country has their own variation on a theme. Most of the blends start with garlic and coriander. The Moroccans usually add dried parsley, cumin, paprika. However, the proportions of each ingredient, I am sure, depends on the spice merchant’s secret family recipe.
I am using this sauce to marinate my meat overnight. I have created my own blend of chermoula. I am making a double batch so that I can have some chermoula left over as a sauce to serve on the side. As a final flourish I decided to add a dash of piri-piri, instead if the more commonly added harissa or cayenne. The idea came to me when both Miriam and Chris were both using it quite liberally last Sunday—I think they liked it.
Note: Piri-piri is a sauce, made with North African piri-piri peppers, that I discovered making last week’s Azores/Portuguese feast. It is not super hot, like North African harissa, but it has a distinctive flavor. In San Jose piri-piri is available at L & F Fish Market and Bacalhau Grill & Trade Rite Market.
After Dinner Note: The internal temperature of 132º F was perfect. The roast came out perfectly medium rare, tender, and juicy. The chermoula marinade was a good compliment to the beef. The uncooked chermoula sauce gave a nice flavor contrast to the marinade and made a perfect addition—the kids ladled it on by the spoonful. I think this is the best tri-tip I have ever made.
Karl’s Barbecued Moroccan Tri-tip
3 lb. tri-tip roast
2 Tbs. coriander seeds
1 Tbs. cumin seeds
2 tsp. black pepper corns
2 Tbs. smoked paprika
1 Tbs. dried parsley
2 tsp. lemon zest
2 tsp. salt
10 cloves garlic, crushed
½ cup olive oil
2 Tbs. lemon juice, fresh
2 tsp. Piri-piri pepper sauce
1. Toast the coriander, cumin and pepper in a dry small skillet until fragrant, 1-2 minutes.
2. Use a spice grinder to process them into a powder.
Tip: I use a dedicated electric coffee grinder, but you are free to go traditional and use a mortar and pestle.
3. Place the ground spices in a small mixing bowl and add the rest of the sauce ingredients. Mix well. Reserve half a cup of the chermoula sauce for serving at the table.
4. If the tri-tip has a thick fat cap trim much of it off. Leave about a ¼ inch over the side and score cross hatches through the remaining fat cap about half an inch apart.
5. Spread the remaining chermoula all over the meat and let it marinate in a gallon plastic bag for at least 4 hours.
Tip: Do not poke holes in the meat with a fork to speed up the marinating process! Holes only give the meat juices avenues to escape. Do not marinate more than 18 hours. The lemon juice in the marinade will eventually turn the surface of the meat mushy if you marinate it too long.
6. Start the coals at least an hour before dinner.
7. Remove the meat from the marinade and lightly pat the surface dry ith a paper towel.
Tip: The point here is not to wipe away the marinade, but to let the surface of the meat air dry before hitting the grill.
8. Spread the coals against the back of the barbecue and place an aluminum pan on the front side. Replace the grill and heat it for 5 minutes.
9. Place the meat on the cool side of the grill fat cap down (over the aluminum tray) and close the grill for 20 minutes.
10. Turn the meat over and place the thickest part of the roast at the edge of the coals with the thinner end slanted toward the front of the grill. Insert a constant-read meat thermometer and close the grill again.
Tip: If you have a tri-tip that is thick on one end and thin at the other use this technique. If you have a tri-tip that is thick in the middle and thin at both ends lay it just off the edge of the coals toward the front of the grill.
11. Then the meat reaches 132º F, about another 20-30 minutes, remove it from the grill and wrap it in tin foil to rest for 10 minutes.
Tip: How long your meat will take to reach this temperature depends on whether you put the meat directly over the coals or, in my case with a foil pan and indirect heat
Note: For my Santa Maria tri-tip I cooked the meat to 135º F. The thick part of the roast came out medium, but much if the thinner part came out well done. This time I will drop the temperature a bit and go for slightly less over-done.
12. Slice thickly across the grain and serve with chermoula sauce on the side.