Recently, while trying to figure out what to cook for dinner during the coming week, my wife and I were our usual ambivalent selves. “How about beef? Sounds good, but not pricey high end steaks. And not hamburgers either, maybe something in between? But not a stew or roast that takes hours and hours to cook, how about some cut of beef that tastes good, relatively affordable and doesn’t take all day to cook?”
Not too picky, right? And that is where the Tri-Tip Steak roast comes in. In the few groceries that I frequent, this cut is usually priced about 50-60% of what a high end ribeye or strip steak would cost. And seeing as the tri-tip comes from the sirloin, it is still a tender and flavorful cut, so a pretty good combo.
I’m not a butcher, but from what I’ve seen, most trimmed tri-tips come sized between 1.5 and 2.5 pounds, which is pretty convenient for many different family sizes. And if that is too large for you, perhaps your kids are off to college and you are an empty-nester, or perhaps you don’t have kids, you’ll be pleased to know that even if you buy too much, the leftovers are pretty delicious as well.
Even more good news, the tri-tip is easy to cook. You can choose inside or outside, on the stove and in the oven, or out on the grill. Seeing as how I no longer own a grill, due to our move to Texas, which doesn’t make much sense when you say it out loud like that, cooking outside doesn’t really work for us.
As a bonus to having moved to Texas, grass fed beef is available everywhere. Seriously, everywhere, it’s not even considered special here, it’s just another offering in the butcher’s case. Actually, it’s more likely to be the main offering, the normal thing to order, as opposed to conventionally raised cattle. And once you do a little research and realize how beneficial eating grass fed beef is versus eating conventionally raised beef, especially if that includes a Concentrated Animal Feeding Operation, having grass fed beef at your fingertips is a great bonus anytime you can fit it into your diet!
But inside does, and just like several other recipes I’ve learned and shared over the years, starting on the stove in a hot pan and then transferring to the oven is a great way to cook this steak. I like to liberally season the tri-tip steak with Kosher Salt when I pull it out of the refrigerator, about 30-60 minutes before cooking it, and then start the roast fat side down in the pan.
When I remember, I heat my pan in the oven while pre-heating to 400 degrees, just to ensure a nice even temperature and hot pan by the time I add the meat. When it’s time, I add a little oil plus some butter and then lay the tri-tip steak in fat side down and leave it alone for about 5 minutes, maybe even little longer. The time isn’t quite as important as the crust, you want to leave it alone long enough that a nice dark crust develops.
At that point, it’s ok to flip the roast over in the pan, insert an oven-proof meat thermometer into the thickest portion of the steak, and then transfer into the oven until reaching your desired temperature.
When my children are home and I’m cooking for four, we have two eaters who prefer medium rare and two who like would prefer their steaks just a little closer to medium, but not quite. Which works out really well for everyone when cooking this particular cut because of it’s unique shape and size.
If you remove the tri-tip roast from the oven when your thermometer hits 122, give or take a few degrees, depending upon your preference and your thermometer, then your thickets slices will be a solid medium-rare, and will then taper on out with several slices of medium-rare plus and then several nice medium slides before ending at the tip, at which point there will be zero red left in the center, but will still be tender and tasty.
Bonus points awarded for thinking ahead and preparing a simple chimichurri or some other steak sauce to pair nicely with this recipe!
Be warned that the cook time is usually shorter than the time you allow the roast to come to room temperature before cooking, it goes by quickly! Usually I try to bring my tri-tip roast out of the oven an hour before cooking time, and then mentally give myself another hour to cook the roast, which is usually longer than it takes.
Tri-Tip Steak At Home
- 1 tri-tip steak roast – approx 2 lbs
- Kosher Salt for seasoning
- 1 Tablespoon oil for cooking – I often use avocado oil
- 1 Tablespoon butter for cooking
- remove roast from fridge about 30-60 minutes before cooking
- pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
- in a hot pan, on the stove, over medium high heat, sear the seasoned roast fat side down
- after 5-7 minutes, when a solid crust has developed, dark brown in color, turn roast, insert thermometer and place entire pan in oven
- cook to desired temperature and remove from oven
- let rest for a few minutes while setting the table or preparing the rest of dinner
- slice and serve, pairs well with chimichurri sauce!