I decided to experiment with pickled green pepper (Piper nigrum ). This is a new spice for my family, so I plan to go cautiously. When I did my surf and turf for Miriam’s birthday I discovered just how good a tri-tip could be with simply salt and pepper.
For this Fourth of July dinner, I decided to repeat this roast with the green pepper sauce on the side to be added to the meat, if they decide they like it. To go with this main dish I made a Yellow Gazpacho, a string bean medley, and two almost identical Potato” Salads (one with potatoes and the other with cauliflower “potatoes”). On account of the holiday, Jan made Red, White, and Blueberries for dessert.
Karl’s Salt and Pepper Tri-tip with Green Pepper Sauce
1 tri-tip roast (2½-3 lbs.)
1 Tbs. black pepper, cracked
1 Tbs. Kosher salt
1 Tbs. olive oil
1. Grind the black pepper and mix in the salt.
Note: For my last roast I used two teaspoons of salt and pepper. Today, I decided to “up the ante” to one tablespoon each.
2. 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 their tri-tips. Other stores—like Lucky’s—leave it on. It is a personal choice which you prefer.
3. Sprinkle one tablespoons of salt and pepper blend on each side of the meat and rub it into the meat.
Tip: Work the seasoning into the cuts of the cross hatching.
4. Pat the olive oil onto both sides of the meat.
Tip: Pour some olive oil on one palm and rub your hands together before patting on the oil.
5. Put the meat in a gallon plastic bag and add one half cup of filtered water.
Note: The salt will cause much of this water to be absorbed into the meat.
6. Press all of the air out before sealing it.
7. Refrigerate the meat for at least six hours.
Tip: Overnight is better. Turn the meat over occasionally.
8. An hour before you plan to grill, remove the meat from the plastic bag.
9. Pat the meat dry with some paper towels—to remove any excess liquid—and set the meat on the counter to dry the surface and to warm to room temperature.
Tip: This allows the meat to cook more evenly.
Note: You are not trying to wipe away the surface pepper, you are only trying to hasten the drying out of the surface of the meat, so that it will sear rather than steam.
If using a charcoal grill:
10. 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.
If using a gas grill:
10. Oil the grill and then start the burners on one side of the grill. Close the lid and let the grill heat for five minutes.
Note: Jan has finally talked me into going gas—we have had too many “spare the air” days spoiling our barbecues. This is my new grill’s maiden voyage.
11. Place the meat on the hot side of the grill, fat-cap down, and close the grill for 20 minutes.
12. Turn the meat over and place the thickest part of the roast at the edge of the coals/hot side of the grill 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/heat toward the front or cool side of the grill.
13. 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: As the roast nears the temperature, do not walk away from the grill. For my Santa Maria tri-tip I cooked the meat to 135º F. The thick part of the roast came out medium, but much of the thinner part came out well done. The difference between a medium rare and well done roast is only a few degrees.
14. Slice thickly across the grain and serve with Green Pepper Sauce on the side.