FRESNO, Calif. (KSEE/KGPE) – Texas, Kansas City, the Carolinas, and Memphis all have their claim to fame when it comes to barbecue. But did you know that here on the West Coast, California has its own delicious meat dish to be proud of?
It comes in the form of the tri-tip. The tri-tip sandwich is such a frequent barbecue offering at restaurants around the state, lifelong Californians may not realize the cut of meat doesn’t share the same fame across the country.
According to different sources, including the Santa Maria Valley‘s official site, Bob Shutz, then-owner of Santa Maria Market on the Central Coast, first introduced tri-tip to his community back in the ’50s. From there, locals and visitors alike began to indulge in this delicious cut of meat.
To this day, tri-tip is sometimes referred to as the “California Cut” or “Santa Maria Steak.”
While it’s earned fans outside of California over the year, it can still be harder to find in grocery stores in other states, or sometimes it’s more expensive, Redditors report.
Why was this cut of meat ignored by many in the past?
The reason is that there is only one cut of tri-tip per side of beef. With limited display space, butchers thought it was a waste of space to display a cut they could only offer one or two. This led to tri-tips being ground up or cut into small pieces for stew meat.
The name of this beef cut comes from the fact that it’s located on the tip of the sirloin and has a triangle shape. Thus the name, tri-tip.
Everyone has their own methods on how exactly to prepare tri-tip, but it is recommended to either roast it in the oven or to grill it for a smoky flavor and some extra-crispy bits.
For grilling, get a nice sear on the meat using high heat. Then using indirect heat, close the grill and cook it to a recommended medium-rare. That would mean taking off the meat at about 120 degrees to 130 degrees and letting it rest for 10 minutes, letting the carry-over heat from cooking do the rest. It’s important not to overcook tri-tip as it doesn’t have a lot of fat and would result in tough meat.
What about sides? That is another story for another day. Whatever way you choose to enjoy your tri-tip, just know that you’re enjoying a California classic.