Out of This World Tri-Tip for Memorial Weekend

I have a great friend in Spokane, WA who used to make the worst food. I remember some late night recipes when we were in college that involved things like tortillas, ramen, teddy grahams and ranch dressing. Oh, the things you do when you're broke and hungry. Anyhow, I guess those years prepared him for greatness because his tri-tip recipe below is a real banger!!

The first and most important key to any good bbq or smoker recipe is the quality of the meat you choose from the store or butcher. In this case, as with many others we've always had great success with Costco meats. The other day, I was talking to a co-worker with whom I often swap smoker and grilling recipes and he agreed. He said he heard alot of restaurant owners are using Costco meats as well. The other place I've mentioned on my smoker recipes is Cash and Carry, I'm not sure if they carry tri-tip like Costco does but I would be very interested to cook theirs up as well. The tri-tip is a funny shaped section of meat to the rear of the flank on the underbelly of the cow. It can be purchased in a single piece or as pre-cut strips. For smoking, the full piece is usually preferred, for grilling, we've always used the strips. Will definitely try the full tip on the smoker someday.

Anyhow, a pack of tri-tip steaks at Costco is in the $40 range, is enough to feed 6-8 adults and it should look like a lot of long, strip shaped, thick steaks. The wife grabbed them on Monday, we froze them until Friday and served them Saturday. Here's how it all went down.

Marination Station:

Let me start by saying that making a great marinade isn't difficult. I didn't measure anything, added all ingredients liberally and got awesome results. Here is the list of ingredients, in order of importance and amount:

• Soy Sauce

• Teriyaki Sauce

• Worcestershire Sauce

• Olive Oil

• Balsamic Vinegarette

• Minced Garlic

• Brown Sugar

• Steak Seasoning

After thawing the steaks I poked them all over with a fork and bathed them in the mixture above. nough to mostly cover them. I sealed them in a nice plastic bowl with a lock tight lid, refrigerated them and took them out to flip the bowl upside and down and shake the steaks around a few times the day before and the day of the cook.

Look at those beauties all up in the marinade.

Adding Some Smoke:

A little bit of hickory flavor makes a big difference when cooking beef. In order to achieve this, I soaked some hickory chips in water overnight and made a foil smoke chamber for them to rest in on the grill surface. I left the top open slightly to let some oxygen in and turned the grill on high with just the chips and let them sit in there until I saw smoke billowing out of my Weber Spirit Gas Grill.

Simple but effective hickory smoke bomb.

The Cook:

In order to make the first flip flawless and get those great grill lines I like to spray my hot grill with non-stick spray before the meat goes on. Before doing this I recommend turning the flame off for safety. Another tip for good beef BBQ is to let the meat get to room temperature before grilling, I took the meat out of the fridge the morning of the BBQ to let it warm. Once the spray was on, i pulled the steaks out of the marination station and dropped them on the grate, nothing like the sound of dripping slabs of marinated tri-tip hitting the grill! Oh baby!

Just after hitting the grill. Hickory smoke bomb in the background

I kept the lid closed as much as possible to let the smoke engulf the steaks, kept the grill on high and kept a close eye on the thinner parts of the steaks. My buddy who shared the marinade with me said he often cuts them again after purchase to more accurately grill smaller, thinner pieces and larger thicker pieces together. I'll probably do that next time I fire these babies up.

I flipped the steaks a few times – don't let people tell you flipping steaks is a bad thing. It's much more important to get that crispy outside, those good grill marks and the perfect amount of cook than it is to count how many times you flip.

After taking one of the thinner parts off the grill to check how done it was, I cut it into some small pieces and carried the cutting board down to where a few of our guests were enjoying the sunshine and playing 3-hole washers (more on that excellent game another time). I gave the gentlemen a few morsels to enjoy from the cutting board and their eyes opened wide right when it hit their mouths. "I love you for this," one of my pals said as he grabbed a second piece. I knew I was on the right track....back to the grill to finish them up.

I cut the rest of the thin spots up and let the big steaks cook for another 5 minutes or so before removing all of the meat, cutting it into nice thick bites and delivering it to the table. The smell coming off that cutting board had everyone excited.

A nice mix of medium and medium rare morsels fresh off the grill.

Although I still have alot to learn, I've gotten some nice compliments on the meat I've smoked over the past couple of years. That being said, I don't recall receiving my praise for a recipe than I did for this tri-tip. The guys and the gals at our BBQ just kept going in on it and saying how delicious is was. I can't take much of the credit really, the Costco meat was as quality as ever and the recipe from my buddy was spot on. And that's really what it's all about for me, learning from a friend, taking the steps and preparing well so you can be successful and then being able to deliver in crunch time by paying close attention and dedicating yourself to the task at hand. We had a great time at the BBQ, we were able to share our little plot with some great people (and a ton of great kids), and we also took some time to remember and appreciate the incredible men and women who have given their lives for those of us who are fortunate to live in the greatest country in the world.

If you try this recipe please share the pictures and the experience on instagram @crushlifeacres. I assure you, if you've got good tri-tip and you prepare it well and grill it with diligence, those who you share it with will not be disappointed.