bbq

Barbecue Tri-Tip

Santa Maria Style Tri-Tip

Welcome to California’s pride and joy of barbecue! This small to medium-size triangular muscle of the bottom sirloin subprimal cut (my God that was exhausting) screams for a good amount of spice, smoke and heat. I have done the official research and the credit needs to go to one man for making it as popular as it is today here in the golden state. Otto Schaefer marketed this cut back in 1950 in Oakland, California. But as far back as 1931 the cattlemen of the central coast, the Santa Maria area, were barbecuing meat on strings over hot coals with basic seasonings. Then the adoption happened Tri-Tip became Santa Maria’s ” signature pride and joy cut” truly barbequed beef was launched into a new territory. Go ahead, Google “Santa Maria Style BBQ.” I dare ya, oh and have a towel ready, you’re going to drool and go racing out to your nearest butcher to obtain this precious low-fat, full flavored cut of beef. I have two in my fridge right now about ready to kiss the grill any second.

 There is a bit of a disappointing part, many butcher shops east of the California/Nevada/Arizona border do not market the tri tip cut-you’re going to have to ask for it. This is where you will start to build a relationship with the specialist; a butcher, a professionally trained expert in the animal protein world. If you already have a good relationship with yours it’s going to get even better. I don’t know a butcher around that does not want to market the “next best cut” and tri tip will do it in spades. I’m also guessing you will be able to purchase it for quite a bit less than us right now I paid about $9.95 a pound. The secret is to not overcook this marbled fat flecked beauty. Medium is about as done as you will want it. The soft pink hue throughout its center is the signature look with its crusty pepper, garlic, salt and onion seasoning that perfectly kisses the char marked and smoked tri tip is out of this world.

PFC. Dunbar United States Army
PFC. Dunbar
United States Army

My son, Sean, has the say on this share, he’s kind of nuts over my barbecue seasoning and knows it’s one of my secrets. Before this entry is published I will send him the ingredient list so I can uphold my end of the bargain to let him know first above all others. I created my seasoning blend about 15 years ago, yes I was happily barbecuing away at age 24 living in my tiny two-bedroom home with my son Sean trying to make it as a single mom living humbly, very humbly. I would save my money all month I would budget correctly and buy one tri-tip then I would do the sin of the earth, I would cut that piece of beef into three smaller pieces so we could eat barbecue almost every Friday.

I would make a small pyramid of charcoal briquettes in my weber kettle grill then with a small well in the top I would crumple some newspaper and light it. When the coals were blazing red and covered in heavenly white ash I would place the grill grate over the coals and lightly oil it using a few paper towels crumpled together and soaked in a bit of cooking oil held with tongs and brushed over so the meat would not stick. I would wait about 10 minutes for that grill to get searing hot. Then I would throw a few mesquite wood chunks (not chips) on the hot coals just moments before the meat was put on the grill, quickly the backyard filled with sweet mesquite smoke the black pepper, garlic, onions and chili spice too. The sizzling and popping sounds from the searing meat and fat (I just drooled) were the symphony of a perfect Friday night Mother and son tradition. I would let that small portion cook on the grill for about eight minutes then I would turn the meat over and cook the other side about eight minutes longer. When it was ready I would take the tri tip off the grill and give it a good 10 minute rest time before slicing it. My choice is to slice it against the grain so the meat is most and tender, I would also make my slices about a ¼” thick, traditional tri tip cuts are about ½” thick. Sean would be waiting at our table in his seat just smiling away, as he ate I would watch my son melt in that tri trip’s smoky mysterious taste. I loved those Friday night dates with him, when he comes home on leave from the Army this one of the first meals he asks for.

If I was grilling a whole tri-tip it would be cooked a bit differently I would set up the charcoal in an indirect method, hot coals on one side of the kettle, empty space on the other. When it was time to put the meat on the grill grate you place it on the side without the heat directly below. Put  the lid on and position the vent holes over the tri tip to: draw the smoke around it further to add to the richness of the flavor, have the vent holes about 3/4 way closed. After about 45 minutes it was done and off the heat with a resting time of about 10 minutes. If you’re using a smoker 225° for about four hours with good mesquite, apple, or even pecan wood but only for the first two hours. Adding wood chunks will produce one heck-of smoke ring; it’ll be a gem! Get out your grill, clean it down, oil the grills grates and go see your butcher.

Cheers!

Tri-Tip Seasoning

Ingredients
1.    4 tablespoons Kosher salt
2.    4 tablespoons light brown sugar
3.    1 teaspoon paprika
4.    1 teaspoon ground pepper
5.    1 teaspoon ground cumin
6.    1 teaspoon dried oregano
7.    1 teaspoon dried parsley
8.    1/2 teaspoon turmeric
9.    1/2 teaspoon onion powder
10.    1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
11.    1/4 teaspoon chili powder
12.    1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
13.    1 teaspoon cornstarch

Instructions
1.    Place all ingredients into a zip bag or a jar with a lid and shake well. Store in your pantry or spice cabinet.

Notes
1.    This seasoning is also amazing on pork, chicken and lamb.

Happy Independence Day 2014!

Happy Independence Day! On this amazing day our country adopted the Declaration of Independence on July 4, 1776 and declared its independent from British Rule.

 I believe in celebrating this Holiday weather it is with friends, family, volunteering at a shelter or offering comfort at a Veterans center. This day has a special meaning to everyone that is a United States Citizen, it is our day to be proud, joyous and have a grand party! I was asked by a friend on our Facebook page to choose my top 5 Independence Day Memories, here they are and thank you Lisa for the question.

1. Months after my Spring trip to Washington D.C. with my 8th grade U.S. History class it was the 4th of July 1999, I closed my eyes and I was transported back to standing in front of the Declaration of Independence with my 40+ class members. I looked at a time warn and faded document that stated-

We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.–That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, –That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.

Mr. Jerry Mittelholtz was my U.S. History teacher at Anacapa Middle School in Ventura, California. He was so passionate about history he wanted us to live it, breath it and see it first hand when we were there in D.C. My curiosity and love of History truly came from him and if I had the chance, I would tell him “thank you  for your lessons and love of teaching, you opened my eyes Mr. Mittelholts.”

2. Lake Cachuma, in Santa Barbara County California camping with my Grandparents. This was what Independence Day was with them: camping, fishing, tall tale telling, sleeping outdoors, walks around the lake and running around all covered in dirt throwing water balloons and getting bandaged up from all the trips, falls and crashed we took. We (the grandkids) loved every second of it. My Grandfather (Chuck his Holiday Rambler name) would pitch a huge screened in tent and inside that tent our cots, sleeping bags and lanterns would be lovingly put in order. When all of us kids were finally asleep, he would place apples all over the trees just outside of our tent so that in the morning when we woke up, deer were all around us eating those apples, it was magical.

Charles "Chuck" Slaton, my Grandfather.
Charles “Chuck” Slaton, my Grandfather.

3. A small town 4th of July parade in Ojai California when I was growing up. All of us kids would be on floats or on our horses riding down Main Street waving, cheering, laughing or crying (it would be over 105 degrees). But, I think my favorite year was the year of great pony escape. There were about 12 of us and our horses all set to line up and start the parade. Well, one of the poor Jr riders pony got spooked and like a bat out of hell that pony took off with the poor screaming and crying 7 year old stuck in that tiny saddle. We all shot off after her, the whoops and hollers we got from the crowds as be barreled down the road made us feel like we were racing down a calf at the rodeo. Needless to say we caught her along with that pony thankfully with the help of the team-roping club. Oh my gosh that was a 4th of July!

4. My Mom, this woman would prep for days making cakes, cookies, salads and then all the BBQ sauces, prepped the ribs, burgers, hot dogs and flank steaks for over 30+ friends and family members that would come to relax and enjoy the holiday with us. It was just another day for Helen with loved ones, food, laughs and memories, she lived for it.

5. My husband, my son both of my Grandfathers and countless family members that at one time wore or are still currently wearing the uniform of a service member in the Military. Last year was the first with out our Son around our home he was training at Fort Sill in Oklahoma with the Army poor child he had Toby Keith entertaining him, not my BBQ or his silly brother and sister. I remember my first Independence Day celebration as a Military wife- talk about pride! I went to the PX on base a few days before the 4th and purchased all of our food and decorations, I was lucky enough to watch the families who had their loved ones back home from a deployment. The busses rolled in and the signs and flags were waving the wives were crying the kids just wanted to see their dads. It was a Seabee construction battalion back from Iraq, I think I cried buckets that day I was so happy for them, it was priceless.

This holiday to me is about the gathering, celebrating, reflection, fireworks and food. It’s the one day all of us citizens smile a little bigger because our Country puts another candle on her birthday cake this year there are 238. Her present to us is the same ever year and it’s never to be taken for granted, we are given the gift of – freedom. We have 56 men and their signatures on a Declaration to thank for this gift. I also wish to offer this statement, to our Men and Women in uniform…past, present and future God bless you…and thank you for protecting our Independence.

Cheers!

Vanilla Ice Cream

Ingredients
  1. 1 ½ cups whipping cream
  2. 1 cup whole milk
  3. ½ cup half and half
  4. 1 1/3 cup granulated sugar
  5. 4 egg yolks
  6. 1 whole vanilla bean
  7. Pinch of salt
  8. Optional: 1 cup chopped fresh fruit, ½ cup chocolate chips, 2 tablespoon fresh herbs, ½ cup jam or jelly, ½ teaspoon flavoring of your choice.
Instructions
  1. Combine all three milks, sugar, and the pinch of salt in a medium saucepan. Split and scrape the vanilla bean place it in the pot too. Heat over medium-high, stirring occasionally, until the mixture is warmed through, do not boil just tiny little bubbles should form around the pans edge. Remove the pan from the heat.
  2. In a separate bowl, whisk the egg yolks until smooth and pale in color. Slowly pour 1 cup of the warm milk mixture into the bowl with the egg yolks, whisking constantly this will temper the egg yolks so you won’t have scrambled eggs. Return the entire mixture to the saucepan and place over medium heat. Cook, stirring constantly and making sure to scrape the bottom of the pan, until the mixture thickens slightly and coats the back of a spoon (about 170 F). Pour the ice cream base through the mesh strainer into the bowl; place vanilla pod back into the strained base, let the custard cool slightly, then cover and refrigerate until completely chilled (24 hours). Remove the vanilla bean before churning, add optional ingredients if wanted then follow the manufacturing directions of your ice cream maker and enjoy.