California “Barbecue”

We’ve lived in California for 5 years and have certainly learned a lot. We’ve learned that responding, “I’m good,” when asked if we want a drink refill at a restaurant will get us a puzzled look from the server, and likely more drink in our glasses. It’s also apparently not appropriate to give driving directions by saying, “At the third red-light, make a left.” My friend responded to those instructions, “How do you know the light will be red?” OK…at the third traffic light? That sounds weird. No one but my husband eats “supper”, and I’ve gotten quite a few giggles when referring to starting my car engine as “cranking” the car. Whatever. I can make a few concessions on this list and admit that it’s possible a few of my southern phrases don’t make perfect sense, but there’s one thing I will not back down on no matter what. You know that big metal machine you keep outside in the backyard to cook your food on when the weather’s great? It’s a GRILL, people! It is used to GRILL food. Yes, you can certainly finagle (quite possibly another deep South word) your grill to act as a smoker, slow-cooker, or even an oven, but it’s number one purpose in life is to grill. It is not a barbecue and you certainly don’t use it to barbecue hamburgers, hot dogs, or gasp…veggies. I’ll never forget being invited to a pool party where barbecue was promised. I headed outside and inhaled deeply, eagerly anticipating that smoky, been-cooking-overnight aroma of pork. I looked around and saw my friend flipping burgers and weenies on the grill. He saw me and yelled over, “Hey, do you want a barbecued hamburger or a barbecued hot dog?” I’m sorry, what? Is this burger you speak of slow cooked for hours, steaming in its own juices and slathered in a delicious sauce? No? Then I have news my friend, it’s not barbecued. That was the day I learned that while Californians may be right about some things…like traffic lights…they are most certainly incorrect on the looseness in which the term barbecue is used. Okie doke, stepping down off my grandstand now. However, score one for California when we were introduced to the wonder that is Tri Tip. If you haven’t heard of it, which is probably the case if you’re anywhere on the east side of the country, Tri Tip is the triangular piece of meat from the bottom sirloin subprimal cut of the cow. Until the 1950’s it was typically made into ground beef or cut into steaks, until it was introduced into an Oakland, CA meat market as its very own cut. Its popularity spread throughout the state and it is now becoming increasingly popular in other parts of the country. Slowly, but surely. BJ tried his hand at making Tri Trip for me, my mom and Kellan last week.  He and Kellan had a great time outside grilling together. If ever a little boy wanted to be just like his daddy, this little nugget does! IMG_1636   IMG_1634   This was BJ’s second attempt at the mysterious cut of meat; as the first go-round fell a little flat in the texture department. This time he used the method of our good friend Reed, a life-long Orange County boy and avid “barbecuer”. He massaged a yummy dry rub into every square inch of the tri tip and let it hang out in the refrigerator for about 8 hours. He gave it a quick sear on both sides over very high heat, and then wrapped the meat loosely in aluminum foil, lowered the grill temperature down to 275 degrees, and let it slow cook on the top rack of a closed grill for about an hour. This was the closest thing to BBQ, the cooking method that is, that I’ve seen since living on the West Coast. BJ opened the foil and let the meat rest for about 5 to 10 minutes, carefully reserving the super flavorful jus that had formed in the bottom of the packet. This was perfect for pouring over the sliced meat once it was arranged on the serving platter. This tri tip was absolutely melt in your mouth delicious, extremely tender, and had a very bold flavor from the spice rub. Below is the recipe and photo as given by my husband. He’s no food photographer, but I think he did a great job capturing the tender, juicy Tri Tip, and an even better job making all of our bellies extremely happy! The meal was completed with my mom’s buttery fingerling potatoes and a raw asparagus salad I actually got to throw together while sitting at the kitchen table. Hooray for another successful family dinner together around the table while the resident chef is still very much on bed rest. If I wasn’t so stir crazy I could really get used to having these delicious meals prepared by other people! Sometimes it tastes even better when someone else did all the work! tritip California BBQ (Dry Rubbed Tri Tip)  2.5 lb. tri tip, trimmed of extra fat Dry Rub: Lawry’s seasoning salt brown sugar ground ginger garlic powder salt and pepper, to taste

  1. Combine the dry rub ingredients together in a bowl to your taste. It should yield about 1 cup of rub.
  2. Massage the rub into the tri tip. Wrap with plastic wrap, put on a plate, and let hang out in the refrigerator for 8 hours or overnight.
  3. Oil the grill grates to prevent sticking and preheat grill to very high heat.
  4. Sear the tri tip on both sides to get good grill marks. Approximately 2 minutes per side.
  5. Remove from the grill and wrap loosely in aluminum foil. Lower the heat to 275 degrees and place the foil-wrapped tri tip on the top rack. Let slow cook for 1 hour.
  6. Remove meat from the grill and let rest 5 to 10 minutes before slicing. Carefully reserve any jus that had gathered in the bottom of the foil packet to drizzle over the sliced meat.
  7. Slice the meat into thin, 1/2 thick slices. Pour jus on top. Serve as is or make sandwiches using Hawaiian rolls and your favorite BBQ sauce.
  8. Thank California for introducing you to their brand of BBQ.

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