Miriam requested Surf and Turf for her birthday dinner this week end. I suggested several possible international spicings, but she wanted it to be a simple salt and pepper tri-tip. If you are going to eat beef, sometimes you just want to taste the beef.
Note: It may seem to some that I used a lot of pepper on the “Turf.” I am using cracked pepper and I expect that many of the larger chunks of pepper will fall off during the grilling.
For the “Surf” she had requested lobster tails. This is something I have always shied away from. They are very expensive and if you do it wrong they come out tough and flavorless. However, you only roll a ten year birthday once in a while, so I am braving the task.
Surf and Turf is all about the meat, but woman does not live on meat alone—I have known some men who would try. For starters I made some pickled cucumbers and cabbage and some Shishitō peppers. To go with my main dish I am making a Tunisian grilled vegetable salad and lemon couscous. This being a birthday dinner, Jan will be making chocolate mousse for dessert.
Lobster has a very delicate flavor. I decided that Elephant garlic would complement its flavor nicely. While this bulb has a mild garlic flavor it is actually in the leek family.
After Dinner Note: The beef came out perfectly medium rare, tender and juicy. The lobster was also perfectly cooked, moist and flavorful. Juggling eight lobster tails on the gill at once was a bit of a challenge, but I was apparently up to it. All my dinners rated this meal as a masterful success.
Karl’s Salt and Pepper Tri-tip
1 tri-tip roast (2½-3 lbs.)
2 tsp. black pepper, cracked
2 tsp. Kosher salt
1. Cut a half inch cross-hatch in the fat cap of the tri-tip.
Tip: With a sharp knife, slice through the fat, but try not to cut too deeply into the meat. You want the seasoning to be able to reach the meat, but you do not want too much of the juices leaking out.
Note: The fat-cap is a, sometimes, half inch thick layer of fat on one side of the tri-tip roast. There is a debate in the grilling community on whether to remove this fat or not. I prefer to cut much of the fat off, because of Jan’s dietary restrictions. Other grillers say that if you do not have the full fat-cap, to go out and buy another roast. Some stores—like Safeway—remove much of it before they sell it. Other stores—like Lucky’s—leave it on.
2. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon of pepper and salt on each side of the meat and rub it into the meat.
Tip: Work the seasoning into the cuts of the cross hatching.
3. Put the meat in a gallon plastic bag and press all of the air out before sealing it.
4. Refrigerate the meat for at least six hours.
Tip: Overnight is better. Turn the meat over occasionally.
5. An hour before you plan to grill, set the meat on the counter to come to room temperature.
Tip: This allows the meat to cook more evenly.
6. Start your coals and when they are ready build a bi-level fire and place an aluminum pan on the front side of the barbecue. Replace the grill and heat it for 5 minutes.
Tip: Push all of the coals to the back of the barbecue. This gives you a hot zone—to sear—and a cooler zone—to roast the meat.
7. Place the meat on the cool side of the grill fat-cap down (over the aluminum tray) and close the grill for 20 minutes.
8. 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.
9. 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 roasting with indirect heat. Some people think that a heavily blackened meat is the sign of a well done tri-tip. I think it is just burnt.
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.
10. Slice thickly across the grain and serve.
Karl’s Barbecued Lobster Tails
1 lobster tail per person (4-6 oz. each)
½-1 Tbs. butter per tail, melted
1 small roasted elephant garlic clove, mashed
½ tsp. fresh lemon juice per tail
Pinch kosher salt
Pinch paprika (optional)
1, Hold the tail legs up and slide a paring knife into the shell to separate the meat from the “belly” of the lobster. Twist the blunt edge of the knife towards the top of the shell. Turn the knife over, insert it along the “belly” again and twist in the other direction.
Tip: It is easiest to separate the meat from the shell before you open up the shell.
Note: Lobster tails cook very quickly. Barbecue them just before your dinner is to start. The beef should rest for ten minutes before carving, but the lobster should not sit after it has been cooked.
2. Cut the back of the lobster shell with kitchen shears, from the open end almost to the tail.
Tip: Do not cut all the way to the tail or the meat will separate from the shell. You will need the shell to protect the meat from over cooking while you are grilling it.
3. Pull the meat away from the shell, but leave the end of the meat at the tail attached. Lift the meat so that it is 3. gripped by the cut edges of the shell.
4. when you grill is hot, brush each lobster tail with the melted butter and lay it, meat side down, directly over the coals.
5. Grill the tails for five minutes and then turn them shell side down.
6. Brush each tail with the remaining butter and grill for another 3-4 minutes, until the meat is an opaque white color and soft/firm to the touch.
Tip: Use your finger to poke the ball of your palm, that is soft/firm to the touch, when the lobster meat feels like that it is done.
7. Sprinkle half a teaspoon of lemon juice, a pinch of paprika and salt on each tail
8. Transfer the tails to a plate and serve while still hot.