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A Gold-Medal Dinner

Tri-Tip with Charred Cherry Tomatoes & Onions

Photo by Andrew Meade

One of my favorite roasts is the picanja, also known as tri-tip. I love the flavor of this cut of beef, which is so popular in Brazil. The best part is that it is so easy to prepare and requires few ingredients. Plus, it’s one of those “set it and forget it” kind of recipes—perfect for entertaining. You can feed a holiday crowd and look like a top chef while doing so. The salty garlic rub gives it a crusty exterior while maintaining the meat’s moist interior. Just add tomatoes and onions or any other veggie on a skewer next to it, and you’re ready to enjoy. Buen Provecho!

Tri-Tip with Charred Cherry Tomatoes & Onions


Serves 4 to 6

5 garlic cloves
¼ cup very coarse kosher or sea salt
5 tablespoons olive oil
2 to 3-pound picanha (tri-tip) roast, trimmed of excess fat (leave a little fat on the roast) and connective tissue
2 pints cherry tomatoes
16-ounce bag defrosted pearl onions
Freshly ground pepper


1. Place the garlic on a cutting board. Cut the cloves in half lengthwise, and then smash them with the side of your knife. Sprinkle a little salt over the garlic and chop, drag and smash the garlic, smearing it on your cutting board until it is a fine paste. This may also be done using a mortar and pestle, provided the garlic cloves are smashed with the side of the knife blade before going into the mortar. Mix the garlic with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and add enough coarse salt to make a mixture that resembles wet sand.

2. Stab the meat all over with a fork or a metal skewer. Rub the garlic salt into the meat to evenly coat the entire roast. Wrap the roast tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 2 to 3 hours.

3. Preheat your oven to 400 F. While it heats, scrape as much of the salt off of the beef as possible. Let it sit out at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, thread the cherry tomatoes and the pearl onions alternately onto metal or water-soaked wood skewers. Brush them with 1 tablespoon of olive oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper.

4. Heat a large oven-proof (preferably cast iron) skillet on medium high, put the three remaining tablespoons of olive oil in the skillet and sear the meat for two minutes on each side until browned. Cook it in the oven for approximately 35 to 45 minutes, or until desired doneness.

5. Use a probe thermometer in the deepest part of the meat to monitor the temperature. (If you don’t have an oven proof skillet, transfer the meat fat side to up to a roasting pan and follow the same cooking instructions.)

6. Remove the meat from the oven and cover it loosely with aluminum foil and let it rest for 5 to 10 minutes before slicing.

6. While the roast rests, preheat a grilling pan and grill the tomatoes and onions until they are slightly charred. Place them on a platter with the sliced beef and serve.

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