Love ribeyes? For a low-cost, lower fat option try tri-tips



■ Price per pound the tri-tip cut is cheaper than most other desirable cuts.

■ Two tri-tip roasts should comfortably feed 10-12 people when served along with side dishes, but purchase more if you want delicious leftovers.

■ Don’t trim off the fat, whatever fat there may be. Leaving it on will provide more flavor and moisture.

■ Let the tri-tips rest at room temperature for about 1 hour prior to grilling.

■ Don’t season the meat until ready to grill; the salt can draw out the moisture if salted too early.

■ There is no magic time or grill temperature, as all barbecues vary and the size of the roasts differ. I heat my grill on high, scrape off any residue, turn the temp down to medium then grill the meat on each side for 15-20 minutes, beginning to temp it after about 25-30 minutes to be sure to not overcook it. 

■ Use your thermometer to temp the meat. I prefer to remove the tri-tip from the grill when the internal temp reaches 125 degrees. The internal temperature will increase for a few minutes after removing it from the grill. You can always cook longer, but not less!

■ Always, always let cooked meat rest to allow the juices to settle back in.

■ Always slice it against the grain.


1/8 cup water

2 Tbsp fresh oregano leaves, lightly packed

1 tsp coarse salt

1 ½ cups fresh parsley leaves, lightly packed

½ cup fresh cilantro leaves, lightly packed

3 garlic cloves, smashed

½ tsp red pepper flakes

¼ cup red wine vinegar

½ cup extra virgin olive oil

Place the first seven ingredients in a food processor and pulse 10 to 12 times to chop coarsely. Add vinegar and pulse for a few seconds to combine. While processor is on slowly add oil while pulsing processor on and off. Chop to desired consistency keeping in mind the more blended the sauce the stronger the flavor will be. I liked my combined but not pureed. 

Cover and chill. Bring to room temperature before serving. The sauce can be made up to 3 days in advance.

Makes about 1 ½ cups

I feel like the Grand Valley has been on a roller coaster of seasonal change the past few weeks. I know warmer temps are just around the bend, even if we are under a blanket of icy hail. The last day of school is upon us and energy is high. Patio furniture is out, the lawn is mowed, pools are open, the barbeque is ready, so let’s move on. Bring on summer already!

Along with warmer temperatures naturally comes the joy of grilling. I anticipate hosting many fun summer gatherings. It may seem premature, but I am already thinking of fresh, yet minimally effortless, menus so that we may enjoy the summer’s bounty with friends and family. I am visualizing backyard flower bouquets, icy drinks in mason jars, aromas of the hot grill, festive music and jovial spirits. 

All that said, cooking for a gathering can be overwhelming for even well-seasoned entertainers. For me, the idea always sounds grand initially, then the reality of all the details settles in and it can become quite daunting. 

At the top of my list of crowd pleasers is grilled tri-tip. Tri-tip roast, aka tri-tip steak, bottom sirloin roast, or triangle steak, is an excellent choice for a planned group event or for a last-minute gathering. Without question, tri-tip is one my favorite cuts of beef. I know there are readers out there who will cringe when they read this, but hear me out. I am well aware of the attention filet mignon and ribeye steaks receive. But when you are looking for versatility, and want to impress, the tri-tip should not be overlooked.

For many years, the tri-tip cut of beef was removed from the bottom sirloin and simply mixed in with other random cuts of beef, processed and sold as ground beef. The debate is arguable, but at some point in time, prior to the 1950s, it was discovered if left intact and roasted to medium rare, the tri-tip cut of beef resulted in a mouthwatering tender choice. (I am having a hard time typing this without salivating). 

Its origin is most known for being served in prime restaurants in Southern California as the Santa Maria steak. Seasoned simply with a rub of fresh garlic, salt and fresh cracked black pepper, char-grilled to medium rare and thinly sliced on the bias against the grain, the resulting tender steak became extremely popular for good reason. 

In my opinion, grilled tri-tip never disappoints. Tri-tip is an affordable, surprisingly lower fat, high-quality selection of beef that is simple to prepare, and can easily feed a crowd. It is naturally more lean than other cuts and when cooked to medium rare will satisfy any meat lover. 

Each butchered steer produces two tri-tip cuts averaging 2-3 pounds each. Tri-tip roasts are triangular in shape, having one exceptionally thick end and one thinner end which comes to a point. The odd shape of the tri-tip is actually a blessing in that if you have mixed preferences of cooking temperatures you can easily divide the steak up to satisfy the rare temp lovers (like me) and the well-done lovers (like my in-laws).

Simply seasoned and grilled, served alongside a green salad and a grain or a starch, and you are set. No worries. The menu is complete. Just hope for leftovers.

For a group of 10 or so, I normally purchase two tri-tips knowing when the meat is done and sliced thinly against the grain I can stretch my quantity without compromising quality. Step aside ribeyes, I don’t want break the bank, I just want to impress.

I am completely content with simple seasoning and serving, however I have come to love the complimentary flavors of an herbaceous chimichurri sauce with grilled tri-tip. The sauce can turn your great grilled steak into an amazing steak. Chimichurri is a simple, uncooked, tangy green sauce that can be easily prepared days in advance or made on the spot while your steak is grilling. Either way, it will marry wonderfully with your meal. Enjoy and bring on summer grilling!

Suzanne Hanzl is a personal chef, culinary instructor and owner of Tourné Cooking School, Email her at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


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