Friday, May 1, 2009

Grilled Tri-Tip with Chimichurri

Tri-tip roast is a treasure. Exceptionally flavorful, quite tender when cooked to medium-rare, perfect shape for marinating and grilling, and cheaper than the tomatoes that I bought to make a salad to go with it! The size (1.5-2lb) makes two servings, plus a couple of sandwiches for the man to take to work the next day. And it's very traditionally Californian too: the classical way to cook it is Santa Maria style.

Here I gave the tri-tip roast a South American accent by marinating it in chimichurri sauce, and using more chimichurri to serve it. Most recipes recommend to grill the tri-tip roast over medium indirect heat, then sear it over high direct for a few minutes. The one I had was small, a little over 1.5 lb, and relatively thin, and I used my monster gas grill that gets very hot but has to be covered, so I figured that if I sear it first, it may not require additional roasting - and I was right! The little meat termometer inserted in the thick part of the roast was showing between "rare" and "medium" by the time the grill marks were ready on both sides.

One of the reasons why I try to have fresh herbs growing in the garden or in containers at home all the time is that most herbs don't keep too well. So need a few sprigs for a dish, you buy one of these huge bunches in the supermarket, and you are either stuck with putting dill or cilantro on everything that you cook for a week, or you toss most of it, feeling sorry as you do; or both.
Parsley is a different story. After a friend came back from Argentina and told me how they make chimichurri to go with their famous steaks, I am not afraid to buy all the parsley they want to sell me! Even when there is a lot of it growing outside, I can always use more.

I replace some of the vinegar in the original recipe with lemon juice to make the sauce even more tangy and fresh, and add a lot of garlic, just because I love it, and to make up for the heat of the chillies that I cannot eat. The recipe below makes almost 2 cups. Leftover sauce can be stored in a covered container in the refrigerator for about 10 days and used with any meat or even grilled fish, in sandwiches, or add more olive oil and dress a salad with it.

Grilled Tri-Tip Roast with Chimichurri
3 servings

for chimichurri:
1 large bunch of parsley, chopped
5-6 large garlic cloves, chopped
1 hot chili pepper of your preference, seeded and chopped (optional)
juice and grated rind of 1 lemon
1/2 cup of white wine vinegar
1 tsp salt
1/2 cup of olive oil

1 tri-tip roast, 1.5-2 lb, trimmed of most of the fat

Puree all the chimichurri ingredients except the oil in a blender. Stir in the oil.

Place the beef in a glass or plastic container (or a large plastic bag), spread 3-4 Tbsp of the chimichurri on both sides. Close and refrigerate for at least 4 hours and up to 2 days.

Remove the roast from the container and wipe off most of the marinade (discard the marinade).
Grill over high direct heat about 8 minutes on each side. Check for donness (anywhere from rare to medium is good, overcooked=tough). If not done, roast for additional 10-15 minutes over indirect medium heat.

Remove the roast from the grill to a cutting board, let sit for 10 minutes. Slice thinly against the grain. Serve with additional chimichurri.

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