My husband, Les, has stepped up into the role of “kitchen boss” as I convalesce after slicing my finger. He is especially good on the grill, and sharing one of our fabulous recent meals. I hope you enjoy it as much as we do!Terrie
There are few things I like better than cooking and, of course, eating, a perfectly seared steak. Medium rare.
Strangely, loving steak didn’t come easily for me. My mom, forced to stretch a budget in our lower middle class household, didn’t get the best cuts. I remember endlessly chewing and chewing and chewing, dawdling through meals while eventually my two older sisters and parents drifted away into the “den” (which in actuality was a hallway) to watch TV. I would wait until I knew they were occupied and sneak over to drop my gray meat and leftover canned vegetables into the trash. Then immediately volunteer to take the trash out to the incinerator chute down the hallway of our apartment building in Queens, N.Y.
Eventually, two things changed.
First, I hit puberty and suddenly couldn’t get enough of steak. Second, about this same time, I recall my father started to speak out for getting his steak more rare. In particular, my mom started to buy London broil, a lovely cut of meat, which she cooked on the electric broiler, a rare, new “toy” in our household, slathering on some Open Pit barbecue sauce during the process. Best of all, my mom learned to take the meat off the broiler, cut medium rare slices for my father and me (by then my two sisters were both out of the house; the oldest married and the other in college) and then put the meat back on the grill to get it more done for herself.
I’ve never stopped loving a good cut of steak. As a young adult, I became adept at grilling, and London broil was always my favorite, even over a good New York strip. Until a couple of years ago, that is. Terrie and I were in Whole Foods one day and there was no London broil. The butcher suggested we try a tri-tip. “A what?” I recall saying. He pointed to a triangular-shaped piece of meat about 2 inches thick, which except for its shape looked similar to a London broil. The tri-tip comes from the point end of a sirloin, while London broil typically comes from the top or bottom round of the cow. The tri-tip is thus a better cut of meat, more marbled and flavorful.
Terrie suggested using her coffee spice rub, which is interesting because coffee is one of three things I can’t abide (the others being goat cheese and malted milk). But as part of a spice rub, I honestly don’t taste the “coffee” part, and it makes a terrific flavor profile for cooking steaks of any sort. It has become our favorite preparation for tri-tip, and Terrie’s recipe for the rub is included below.
I can’t tell you how easily and perfectly this meat sears. Not only is it delicious fresh off the grill, but the leftovers slice beautifully thin for sandwiches. Tri-tip, provolone, onion and lettuce on one of Terrie’s sourdough breads for lunch? Yes, please, as my better half likes to say.
- Brush or spray olive oil onto the surface of the tri-tip steak, and rub a generous amount (about 1 tablespoon per pound of meat) all over it.
- Let the dry rub sit for a few hours in the fridge, taking the meat out about an hour before grilling time.
- Put the gas grill on high (550 to 600° F) and sear the meat on each side for 45 seconds to a minute depending on the thickness, before turning down the temp to about 350° F.
- Cook the tri-tip about 7 to 10 minutes on each side, using either a meat thermometer to hit 140° F internally for medium rare, or simply using your eye if you care to slice into it while it’s on the grill.
Reminder: the meat will continue to cook after being removed from the grill, so err on the “rare” side regardless of how you like your meat, as the idea is to let it rest for 5 minutes before slicing.
Slice tri-tip thinly, against the grain of the meat, taking note that the direction changes slightly about halfway into it.
Terrie’s Coffee Rub
1/4 cup very finely ground dark roast coffee* (see notes)
1/4 cup ancho chile powder*
2 Tbsp. Spanish sweet paprika
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 Tbsp. mustard seeds
1 Tbsp. kosher salt
1 Tbsp. ground black pepper
1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
1 Tbsp. dried oregano
2 tsp. ground ginger
2 tsp. ground cayenne* (adjust to taste)
Use a burr coffee grinder on the finest setting to produce the best ground coffee for this recipe. Alternatively, use purchased espresso powder or a good quality instant coffee, such as Starbucks Via brand.
Ancho chile is a smoked, dried poblano chile. It has less heat than chipotle, and is more “fruity” in flavor. Seek out ancho chile powder in a specialty store or online, or substitute a lesser amount of ground chipotle. I don’t recommend substituting a purchased, generically labeled “chili powder,” as these products usually also contain a lot of salt and other spices.
Cayenne packs a fair amount of heat, so adjust the amount to your match your tolerance. If you really like it hot, substitute ground chiles de arbol.
Place mustard and coriander seeds in a spice grinder and pulse until finely ground, but not quite powdery. Combine with all other rub ingredients and keep in a sealed jar for up to six months.
Use about 1 Tbsp. per pound of meat as a grilling rub.