Grilled rosemary tri-tip roast

Posted: August 20, 2012 in Kitchen Scrapz (recipes)
Rosemary tri-tip by eric.louie
Rosemary tri-tip, a photo by eric.louie on Flickr.

Grilled rosemary tri-tip roast

My first full-time job out of college was being a reporter for The Record in Stockton, Calif., 100 miles into California’s Central Valley from San Francisco where I had grown up. For the first several months I had a general assignment position that included the one Saturday day shift. Besides following up on shootings and other breaking news from overnight, I would also get assigned to at least one of the day’s spring and summer fairs. Once, after having my first night out with a couple co-worksers to one of the more happening spots in town, I had to go to the Oakdale Chocolate Festival, Linden Cherry Festival and some event in Lodi where several wineries had food, barrel making and other special features in over 100-degree weather. The chocolate festival, except for being next to the Hershey’s factory, actually was like any other street fair and didn’t have much of a chocolate emphasis as you’d expect. The cherry festival was at a rural high school, and the wine event was your typical wine-country thing.

No matter what type of event you were at, a common food was the tri-tip sandwich. According to the wikipedia entry when I wrote this, “In the United States this cut was typically used for ground beef or sliced into steaks until the late 1950s, when Otto Schaefer marketed it in Oakland, California. Shortly thereafter, it became a local specialty in Santa Maria, rubbed with salt, pepper, garlic salt, and other seasonings, grilled slow and low over red oak wood, and roasted whole on a rotisserie, smoked,in a pit, baked in an oven, grilled, or braised in a Dutch oven after searing on a grill.” It’s a small triangular muscle near the back legs that does well left somewhat rare in the middle. It was also a fairly inexpensive cut, usually around the $2 per pound range, and I had just gotten a gas grill. These days it runs about $3 per pound untrimmed when on sale, and buck extra trimmed. Roasts weigh a couple pounds.

Here’s a recipe uses a simple salt flavoring with soy sauce that, along with the added smokieness of the rosemary, highlights the beef’s natural flavors. After a quick seasoning, it can be made in 30 minutes start-to-finish, or left on a cool part of the grill up to an hour. Perfect if you’re not sure if or when folks are showing up. It is paired with plain, simmered sweet potatoes and collard greens for contrast.


  • A tri-tip roast
  • Soy sauce
  • Beer
  • Ground black pepper
  • Fresh rosemary



  • Trim the roast as needed. Leaving a “rough” layer of fat on the fatty side is OK, it’ll make it crispier. Rinse.
  • Season the roast with a soy sauce and some beer. You can drink the leftover beer, and then some.
  • Crack some black pepper, to taste.
  • Remove rosemary leaves from the stems and break them up further if desired.
  • Mix together and let marinate. A day is preferable, but at least half an hour is OK.
  • Turn on your grill as hot as possible.
  • Lay meat down, heavy side facing inside where the heat is higher. You should hear a sizzle when it goes down.
  • After five to 10 minutes a crisp seal should have formed. Watch out for burning.
  • Turn it over and do the same to the other side. Adjust flames if needed.
  • After each side has a seal, turn down your fire.
  • From there it can be 20 to 45 minutes, depending on how long you want to wait. You’ll learn what’s an appropriate heat and manage that with the serving time. Keep it covered, and checking to make sure it doesn’t burn.
  • When the tri-tip is firm, not bending when you hold it in the middle with tongs, it is done. If using a meat thermometor, around 125 F. Outer ends will be medium rare and insides rare, so cook more if desired.
  • Let it sit 10 to 20 minutes so the juices don’t run when cutting.


Sides (items should be in the pot when you start cooking the tri-tip)

  • Start boiling a bit of water, enough to halfway cover the sweet potatoes you plan to put in.
  • Get some sweet potatoes. Peel them if needed, but skin is OK too if washed. Cut into small pieces.
  • Put in the pot once it starts boiling.
  • Get some collard greens and remove from them from the spine. Cut into smaller pieces and put in pot.
  • Ideally everything should be done by when your tri-tip is ready, but if not luckily these don’t overcook.


  1. Jennifer Kho says:

    This looks fabulous! Can’t wait to try it!

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