Firing up the grill is a thrill for Ben and Nick. They help kindle the coals and blow on the embers until they’re jelly red, then ashy white. Boys are genetically engineered, even at a young age, to be drawn to the smoky heat and sear of well-seasoned meat.
The indoor-outdoor meals of summer are a real joy at the Hunter house. It’s partly because they’re delicious, partly because they’re easy, and partly because the sun has mellowed just enough for a cool night on the patio. But most importantly, because preparing dinner is a family affair.
Tonight, Nick washed and spun the spinach, Ben sliced the strawberries, Marilyn put the Santa Maria dry rub on the meat and I opened the wine. Together, we grilled the tri-tip, poked at it then licked the salty seasoning from our fingers and debated the whole time about when it would be done.
Tri-tip is a California classic, and Santa Maria seasoning is the best. The tri-tip is a triangular piece cut from the sirloin. Weighing in at about two pounds, an average tri-tip grilled for Saturday supper is plenty to feed four hungry people with enough left for Sunday morning steak and eggs.
Santa Maria Tri-tip Roast
2 teaspoons kosher salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
¼ teaspoon paprika
½ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon onion powder
Combine all ingredients in a small bowl and rub all sides of the roast to coat. Place the seasoned roast on a plate and refrigerate – don’t cover it with plastic though because the meat needs to breathe. Take it out of the fridge 30 minutes before grilling. Place on a hot grill, turning occasionally, and cook until it’s about 145 degrees on the thin end and 130 degrees on the thick end. Let the meat rest for 10 minutes, then slice it across the grain and serve with your favorite summer salad. Ours is baby spinach, sliced strawberries and toasted pecans tossed with sweet balsamic vinaigrette.
Because the roast is shaped like a triangle with the narrow end thin and the wide end thick, it’s difficult to overcook. I slice the boys’ medium well portion from the tip and our medium rare portion from the base. I also like to arrange the salad on one end of the platter with the grilled tri-tip on the other. Allow the meat to rest for 10 minutes or so, then slice it right on the platter. The juices, combined with a drizzle of the sweet balsamic vinaigrette, makes the best salad dressing on earth.
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