Tri-tip is an elongated, triangular-shaped roast which is attached to the sirloin and wraps around the top of the leg. Tri-tip has fantastic beefy flavor and is affordable, making it a perfect option for grilling or roasting. In California, the Santa Maria style tri-tip is quite popular.
Some of the directions in this recipe may vary based on your grilling setup, but the concept is simple. We will sear the tri-tip over direct heat until a nice, golden brown crust is formed and then move it to indirect heat to finish roasting until medium rare. The glaze is applied once the meat hits the indirect side of the grill and the leeks then get charred over the direct heat. The white part of the leeks will be sliced and served as grilled vegetables while the charred green tops will make a flavorful pesto.
Prep Time: 25 minutes total
Cook Time: 45 minutes total
May We Suggest:
For the glaze:
For the leeks and leek pesto:
Step 1: Prepare the ingredients. Let the tri tip rest at room temperature for up to two hours before cooking. This will help the meat cook quicker and more evenly. Do not season it yet. While the tri-tip is resting, get all the other ingredients together. For the leeks, separate the green tops from the white parts and rinse them under cold water to remove any dirt. Since we are using spring leeks, they are thin enough to leave whole. If they were thicker leeks, we would split the white parts down the middle. Douse the leeks with a small amount of oil (you can use any kind, but I used avocado oil), but no salt or pepper. I usually prefer to season grilled vegetables after they are charred. If you are using charcoal, prepare your grill. Use a charcoal chimney, if you have one. If using a gas grill, heat up half of the grill to medium-high heat.
Step 2: Make the honey mustard glaze. Melt the butter over medium-low heat and add the chopped green garlic. Simmer for about a minute, stirring, and then add the mustard, honey, water and thyme. Stir frequently and let everything cook gently together for a couple of minutes until well incorporated. If it seems too thick, add a little more water. If too thin, let it simmer a bit longer until it thickens up slightly. Season with salt and pepper, then taste. Adjust seasoning if necessary. I recommend using a branch of rosemary to apply the glaze.
Step 3: Prepare your grill. Place the now red hot charcoal on one-half of the grill, leaving the other half for an indirect heat zone. If using a gas grill, bring one-half of the grilling surface up to medium-high heat. We’re going to be searing the meat until we a get a nice crust, then moving it off to the side to finish cooking while we char the leeks and finish the recipe. Have all your ingredients nearby for easy access once you start the cooking process.
Step 4: Sear the tri-tip steak on the grill. Pat the meat dry with paper towels and season the meat liberally with salt and pepper right before it hits the fire. Place the cut of meat directly over the heat and leave it there to sizzle for about 5-7 minutes. Flip the steak to the other side and sear it for an additional 5-7 minutes. The timing on this can vary based on your grill and setup. If the grill is extremely hot and it looks like the meat is starting to burn or blacken, you can sear it for less time, move it around more frequently or cover the grill and dampen down the air vents to better control the fire. You can also leave your steak over direct heat for a longer period of time if it needs more time to develop a crust. Once you’re happy with the crust, move the tri-tip over to the indirect-heat side of the grill. Apply the honey mustard glaze to all surfaces of the tri-tip. You should have enough to completely baste the meat. At this point, I like to insert a heat-proof probe thermometer to continually monitor the internal temperature of the meat. Insert the thermometer into the thickest part of the roast. We want the thickest part of the tri-tip to hit 130 degrees internal temperature for a nice medium rare. Once it finishes cooking, rest the steak a minimum of 10 minutes before cutting, although 15 to 20 minutes is even better.
Step 5: Grill the leeks. Place the white and green parts of the leeks directly over the heat and cover the grill. If you’ve got air vents on the grill, mostly close the bottom vent that lets air in, leaving about a one-inch opening. We want to create a smoky oven while dampening down the fire to a medium heat. Let the tri-tip cook over the indirect side while the vegetables are being charred over the direct heat. Check the leeks after about 4 or 5 minutes and turn them so that they will grill evenly. Don’t get concerned if the exterior is getting black, as long as the leeks aren’t simply overcooking. Once the leeks are charred on all sides, and the white parts feel soft and tender, remove them from the heat and season them with salt and pepper. Check the tri-tip’s internal temperature. If it still needs more time to reach desired doneness, close the lid on the grill and let it continue cooking while you finish with the leeks.
*Note: if your fire starts to go out or the cooking temperature gets too low because you didn’t use enough charcoal, you can always put the tri-tip into a 350-degree oven to finish cooking.
Step 6: Make a leek pesto with your grilled green tops while the tri-tip is resting. Combine the grilled green parts of the leeks in a small food processor or blender along with the basil, olive oil and lemon juice and blend until well incorporated. Season with salt and pepper to taste. If the pesto seems too thick or is not blending well, add a little water or both water and more lemon juice for a brighter, more acidic flavor. Once your pesto reaches the desired consistency and is seasoned as you like it, put the pesto in a bowl.
*Optional: add two tablespoons of mayo to the pesto for a creamier consistency and flavor. If you have it, avocado oil mayo pairs very well with the vegetables and meat.
Step 7: Rest your meat and slice your tri tip. After your tri tip has rested a proper amount of time (up to 20 minutes, if you can spare the time), cut the meat against the grain into ½ inch slices. You should be able to easily identify the direction of the muscle grain, if you look closely. Slicing your steak fairly thinly against the grain will ensure a more tender bite. The thinner part of the tri tip (often referred to as the tail) will naturally be more cooked than the wider part (also known as the head), so if your guests prefer more medium to well-done meat, the tail will be perfect for those folks, while the head should be a nice medium rare. Serve your tri tip slices with the charred leeks, pesto and any other of your favorite side dishes. Most importantly, enjoy!