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Santa Maria Beef Tri-Tip Recipe


1 tablespoon salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/2 teaspoon garlic salt
1 top sirloin steak (3″ thick), or tri-tip
Red oak logs, or charcoal and oak chips (soaked in water)


Combine the salt, pepper, and garlic salt together, and thoroughly rub the mixture over the meat.

Place the meat on grill and adjust it’s position so that it sites around 2 or 3 inches from the charcoal/heat source.

Sear each side of the meat over hot coals 5 to 8 minutes to seal in juices, turning them only once.

Now re-position the meat so that it is positioned about 6 to 8 inches from the heat source. Cook the meat for another 20 to 30 minutes, turning every 7 or 8 minutes until the beef is cooked to the desired degree of doneness.

Allow the meat to rest in foil for 30 minutes before slicing and serving.

Tri-Tip facts

In the United States, Tri-Tips were usually ground up, or sliced into steaks, until the early 1960’s when it became synonymous with Santa Maria, CA, as a local speciality food.

Tri-Tips were, and still are today, rubbed with a spice blend, or dry rub, that includes salt, pepper and other seasonings including garlic salt. The meat is then cooked and smoked over a pit of red oak wood, or more commonly, on a rotisserie, BBQ grill, or broiled in a large covered cooking vessel.

Even today, the Tri-Tip cut of beef is still referred to as the Santa Maria Steak.

This cut is very versatile in how it can be prepared.

The traditional Santa Maria style of cooking is grilling at low heat over a red oak pit but the tri-tip can be slow-smoked, marinated or seasoned with a dry rub.

The Tri-Tip is cooked over high heat on a grill, on a rotisserie, or in an oven and after the meat has been cooked it is normally sliced across the grain before serving.

Tri-Tip doneness temperature guide

Rare (Red with cold, soft center) – 125 to 130 degrees
Medium-Rare (Red with warm, somewhat firm center) – 135 to 140 degrees
Medium (Pink and firm throughout) – 140 to 150 degrees
Medium-well (Pink line in center, quite firm) – 150 to 155 degrees
Well-done (Gray-brown throughout and completely firm)  160 to 165 degrees

I never get tired of eating Tri-Tip as this cut of beef is simply fantastic served up on it’s own, or with a gutsy BBQ sauce. Once you’ve smoked Tri-Tip and enjoyed it, the chances are that you will already be anticipating the next time you have it!

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Recipes from The Weekend Chef (http://theweekendchef.com)