California Reserve Tri Tip
More well known on the West Coast, the Tri Tip is a versatile cut that when sourced as USDA Prime, delivers a flavor that will take your summer BBQ to a whole new level.
While this can be placed in the “another one of those crazy ideas that originate in California” bucket, the Tri Tip does have some redeeming qualities. It never got much attention from a foodservice standpoint because due to its shape (a triangle), it is a difficult piece of meat to cut into portion steaks. Additionally, it has several alias’ which only serve to confuse the situation. Some parts of the country call it Santa Maria Steak, others Coulotte steak, we refer to it as Tri Tip, and the producers refer to it as the Bottom Sirloin.
The Top Sirloin is the continuation of the beef loin and abuts the New York strip. The Tri Tip is cut from the side of the Sirloin (the Pichana, a similar cut is also taken from the sirloin).
I think the best way to prepare the Tri Tip is straight on the grill as it is of high enough quality to take direct heat. It can also be roasted in the oven, and of late is becoming a popular cut to smoke- think of it as a leaner brisket.
By nature, the Tri Tip has a predominant grain, and will be easily visible both before and after cooking. It is important to slice the steak across (perpendicular to) the grain which will insure tenderness of the slices. The flavor while superb and similar to the Top Sirloin; it is not overbearing. This opens the door to having a lot of fun with different seasonings and marinades. Go ahead and experiment!