Santa Maria/Colorado Springs Tri Tip Barbecue- For this post, we're doing something a little different in several ways. Allow me to break it down, this is not our recipe. This is the product of a local collaboration taking place in Season Two Taste's backyard, meaning here in beautiful Colorado Springs. That's not the only way in which this is a major digression from our usual course on this site, though. This recipe is brilliant in the sense that it takes from several different barbecue styles, but really doesn't play by any of the rules inherent to them. I'm very excited to share this with everyone, as this was a thoroughly fun and interesting cook, as well as a veritable roller coaster of flavor for our palates!
A Note About Chefs and Community
Every community, big or small, has a food culture, when people eat, they inevitably are expressing themselves some kind of way. The preferences inherent in any group in turn influence the people that provide those products and services, so the farmers, ranchers, butchers, restaurateurs, food writers, and chefs, to name just a few. This part of the "ecosystem" of the local food culture, the ground level suppliers, so to speak, not only provide what the citizens and diners what they expect, the are able to help shape that culture as they find ways to educate and entertain within the realm of food and drink. We believe very strongly in this mission as the two chefs that are Season Two Taste. Now I know that all seems really deep, I'll try not to wax poetic too much, but trust me, you'll see where I'm going with this.
In this first of a series of posts covering the local food scene here in Colorado Springs and the surrounding areas, we are both very excited and proud that Matthew Schniper, food author and journalist, is at the center of this story. He has been, and continues to be, an incredible boon to the local food scene here. I could go on, but I think his work speaks for itself. You can find out more about him and his substack newsletter here, and while you're at it, he has a very entertaining and informative podcast also.
Chris and I subscribe, of course, and this edition really piqued our curiosity. In it, Matt describes a colaboration between him, Ranch Foods Direct, ( a local Colorado meat retailer of great importance), and Gather, (a culinary center with classes, and a retail market, a relatively new but also important player in the local culinary scene,), all centering on this beautiful tri-tip recipe.
Tri Tip, Santa Maria Barbecue, Colorado Springs Style.
We start this recipe by visiting the Ranch Foods Direct store and purchasing a tri tip, and a packet of the Gather custom seasoning/dry rub for it.
The cut of beef known as the tri tip has it's origin story placed right in the middle of a southwestern/California style of barbecue known as Santa Maria. It was developed in the Santa Maria valley region of California (hence the name), grilling beef over red oak indigenous to the area on grills with a grate of adjustable height to temper the heat. originally sirloin was the cut of choice, but it was largely replaced when a local butcher of the area isolated the tri tip cut from the bottom sirloin in the 1950's.
The reasons that I use the term "Colorado Springs style" are as follows; the meat, recipe, and ingredients used are all from the city. Tri tip cooked in this fashion would normally be seasoned with only salt, pepper, and garlic, not a complex dry rub. My hat is off to the team at Gather, though, as this dry rub is phenomonal.
Ingredients for Colorado Tri tip
- tri tip
- gather dry rub- see recipe if not able to purchase
- brown sugar
- apple cider vinegar
- non stick pan spray
- dijon mustard
Seasoning with Rub
Take a moment to observe the raw meat itself. This cut is unusual in the sense that it encompasses two separate muscle groups, and the grain of each run different directions, as you can see here. This observation will be useful when slicing the finished product, as you will need to cut through the middle first, and then cut at an angle that will slice against both grains, so as not to make the finished slices stringy and tough. Feel free to trim the fat a little, but I don't suggest doing much of that at all. It's a lean cut.
Rub the meat with the spice blend. Make sure that you get every surface, and use it heavily. This should be done a couple of hours in advance, and the meat held uncovered in the fridge. This treatment allows the rub to adhere and form a crust.
Heat your grill/barbecue and place the tri tip on it, fat cap side down. This recipe starts off on high heat in order to get a good char on this side, and then slows the heat down to finish on the other. I like this method, as it develops an even crust on both sides while still cooking the meat through to a perfect medium rare temp in the middle.
Once you turn the heat down and flip, it's time to baste with the mopping sauce. I'll admit that the quantity of the sauce in this recipe seemed light to me. Turns out that it is exactly enough to lend a nice acidity as well as sweetness to the finished product.
Resting and Carving
Once the tri tip is at the proper doneness, allow it to rest, loosely covered with foil, for at least 10 minutes. Notice the beautiful charred "bark" from the dry rub layer and the mopping sauce. The mop is a very intense blend of vinegar and brown sugar that soaks into the spice crust and provides the punctuation needed to complete the statement being made here.
The pay off for all of the hard work. The synergy of great ingredients, expert guidance, and follow through yields this juicy, tender, and full flavored specimen of grilled perfection.
Santa Maria/Colorado Springs Tri Tip Barbecue
- 1 grill or barbecue
- 1 tongs
- 1 basting brush or mop
- 1 Cutting Board
- 1 chef or carving knife
- 1 small mixing bowl
- 2-3 lb. tri tip roast larger is fine, just will take longer to cook
Dry rub-approximation of Gather brand
- 2 tbspn. paprika
- 3 tsp. salt
- 1 tsp. black pepper
- ½ tsp. cumin
- 1 tsp. garlic powder
- 1 tsp. onion powder
- ½ tsp. dry mustard
- ¼ tsp. dill
- ¼ tsp. basil
- ¼ tsp. oregano
- ¼ tsp. parsley
- ½ tsp. thyme
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- ½ tsp. nutmeg
- ½ tsp. dry lemon zest powder
- 2 tbsp. brown sugar
- 2 tbsp. cider vinegar
- 2 tbsp. Dijon mustard
- Mix all dry rub ingredients together well
- rub tri tip roast evenly and thoroughly with rub
- place in refrigerator for an hour
- remove before cooking for at least an hour to come to room temperature
- combine all mop sauce ingredients well in small mixing bowl
- heat the grill to medium high to high heat, (500℉ to 550℉)
- place the tri tip on the grill fat side down and grill until a nice crusty bark forms
- reduce the heat to around 300℉
- flip meat over to the other side
- brush the mopping sauce over the top
- continue cooking for about 15 minutes, or until the bottom is starting to char.
- carefully turn the steak over and brush the mopping sauce on the bottom
- return the bottom to the grill and cook until a probe thermometer reads 125 for medium rare, 135 for medium, (higher or lower temps not recommended)
- remove from the heat and allow to rest, lightly covered with foil, for 15 minutes
- cut down the middle, and slice on a bias against the grain