If you’re not from California, especially Central California, you can be forgiven for not knowing about beef tri-tip. What was once considered a sub-par cut of meat mostly reserved for ground beef has now become a highly sought after slab of tastiness, but only if you know how to prepare it.
Most of the recipes for tri-tip are for the Santa Maria style barbecue. There’s a bit of disagreement about how that recipe was developed and by whom, but all who have had it can agree that it turns a cut of meat that could become dry and tough into something very worthwhile eating. Two things to be sure of when purchasing and preparing tri-tip: don’t get one that has had too much of the fat trimmed, and be sure to cut across the grain. The tri-tip cut doesn’t have much fat on the inside, so leaving the fat on the outside helps to keep it moist. Cutting against the grain gives you shorter strands of muscle to chew on, giving you a more tender bite.
Greeks may be better known for roast lamb or pork souvlaki (skewered grilled meat), but beef has been a part of the diet for a long time. The Minoans of Minotaur fame prepared beef as regular fare, and it is featured in many more modern dishes, too. A lot of meat served in Greece is simply seasoned then roasted or grilled over fire. This recipe, marinated in burgundy wine with garlic and herbs, can be prepared the same way, or in your oven. (See the end of the recipe for a great tip for using recipes like this to improve your soups and stews.)
Burgundy-Garlic Roast Tri-Tip Recipe
- 1 tri-tip roast (about 2 – 3 pounds)
- 1 1/2 – 2 cups burgundy wine (cheap jug-o-wine is perfect)
- 4-5 large cloves garlic, chopped fine
- 2 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/4 cup mixed dried herbs like basil, oregano, rosemary, thyme, sage, and marjoram, or make it easy and get my go-to blend, McCormick’s Perfect Pinch Italian Seasoning
- 1/2 tsp. salt
- pepper to taste
Place tri-tip fat side down in a deep dish that just holds the meat. Too large of a dish and the marinade will not be kept against the meat. If there are any pieces of the tough connective tissue sheets on the outside of the fat, tear them off.
In a small bowl add herbs, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Mix together to form a paste like texture. Add 1 1/2 cups of the wine, and the garlic to the herb paste and mix together. The herbs will be clumped up in the oil, so it won’t blend evenly.
Pour wine mixture over meat. Rub herbs and garlic around to cover the meat. Flip the roast over and spread more of the herbs across the top of the fat. Add more wine as needed, up to 1/2 cup, to bring the liquid up to the layer of fat, but not submerged (see the picture). Cover and allow to marinate for at least 2-3 hours, or better yet, overnight in the refrigerator.
Take tri-tip out of the refrigerator and bring to room temperature, at least 1-2 hours. Pre-heat oven to 500 degrees, or prepare grill if using. Remove tri-tip and place on a rack over a roasting pan, fat side up. Pour marinade into the bottom of the pan. Again, make sure the pan is not too large, you don’t want the marinade to burn off before the roast is done. Place roast into the oven and turn the temperature down to 350 degrees. Roast until thermometer registers medium-rare at the thickest part of the meat. I find that 20 minutes per pound is perfect.
Remove roast from oven, cover loosely with foil, and allow to rest for 15 minutes before carving. Cut across the width of the roast, not the length. Pour all the juices from the pan into a gravy pitcher and pour over the meat after serving.
You will likely have a lot of the pan juices left over. Don’t toss them! These are some of the most flavorful parts of the meal. I pour any leftover drippings from roast meats in small 2-3 cup containers in the freezer. I just keep adding until the container is full. These juices then become a perfect addition of flavor to soups and stews. I will add a cup or two of these saved juices in lieu of some of the broth a recipe may call for. I even use them for preparing rice dishes. So much better than plain broth or water!