The tri-tip is a delicious and strong-flavored cut of beef that can be surprisingly hard to find, given that there are only two per cow. Cooks don't agree on the best way to prepare a tri-tip, but it's clear that roasting, broiling, frying and baking all produce a tasty meal with exquisite flavors. If you're lucky enough to find a tri-tip, cook it in the way that your family prefers and add flavorful touches to make the perfect meal.
Oven-roasted tri-tip can be a richly flavored treat for your whole family. Marinate it for a couple of hours in salt, pepper, any fresh chopped herb you prefer, red wine and beef stock. Roast it about 20 minutes and let it sit briefly, then serve it with homemade garlic mashed potatoes or roasted asparagus spears. It will be tender, easy to slice and -- best of all -- if you have any leftovers, the meat makes delicious sandwiches.
You'll need to be handy with the grill to produce a perfectly grilled tri-tip, because a cut cooked past medium-rare can turn out quite tough. If you're up to the challenge, though, make a savory marinade for the meat with garlic, honey and lime juice -- leave out salt, which can dry it out too much -- and let it sit overnight. Slowly brown both sides of the tri-tip and serve with a side salad with Caesar dressing, roasted new potatoes or whole-wheat pasta with sauteed vegetables.
Cooking oils and the right seasonings make pan-seared tri-tip especially flavorful. Use a cast-iron skillet and wait until it's extremely hot before putting in the meat. Cook it until it's charred, remove it from the heat and let the residual heat finish the internal cooking. Serve it with grilled pineapple and nectarine slices over a bed of mixed greens. If you want a more substantial side, try some crusty, buttered French bread.
If you like especially tender meat, braised tri-tip may be the way to go. Rub the tri-tip with your own seasoning rub or a salad dressing mix, then place it in a Dutch oven with diced tomatoes, tomato sauce, onions, garlic, chili peppers and Worcestershire sauce. After two to three hours in the oven, it will be finished and you can serve it shredded in spicy tacos or chopped and served over whole-wheat pasta with grilled shrimp. If you need a side item, choose something that won't overpower the flavor of the tri-tip, such as buttery mashed potatoes or steamed vegetables.
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