A Whole New Approach to Tri-Tip!

A few weeks ago, I noted Mark Bittman’s alternative approach to cooking a great tri-tip steak. Tonight, we made Mark’s recipe – with (naturally) our own tweaks. The result – steak and a modified Remesco sauce – was outstanding!

I followed Mark’s recipe with respect to the tri-tip itself – cooking it 5 minutes over very high heat in a cast iron skillet – followed by putting the cast iron skillet into a very hot (450+ degrees) oven for (in our case) about 15 minutes (our oven peaks at 450 – not 500 degrees). The key is watching the tri-tip to reach 125 degrees internal temperature.

While grilling the tri-tip in the skillet, I also cooked the small plum tomatoes in the other half of the skillet. The tomatoes got nicely soft and a bit roasted. I took the tomatoes out of the skillet just before flipping the tri-tip as I was putting the tri-tip in the skillet into the high-heat oven.

The tomatoes went into another pan – along with some slivered almonds, some minced garlic, a healthy amount of olive oil and – a few minutes later – a few tablespoons of sherry wine vinegar. While the tri-tip finished cooking and resting for 5 minutes, the sauce simmered – developing an amazing flavor.

As usual, I sliced the tri-tip against the grain and smothered the slices on the serving plates with the sauce. Wow – what a great combination of flavors! With this technique, I avoided using a food processor and was able to use simpler ingredients (sliced almonds, minced garlic) to produce an amazing result! Thanks to Mark Bittman and his recipe for his suggestions on this Romesco sauce – the flavors are superb – and a great accompaniment to tri-tip!

Another Approach to Tri-Tip – with Romesco Sauce

Our ‘Lazy-S’ Easy Oven-Roasted Tri-Tip recipe is among the most viewed recipes here in Scott’s Kitchen. Tri-tip makes a great meal (and wonderful leftovers for use over salad, on sandwiches, etc.) Depending on the time of year, you can easily oven-roast them or, when it’s BBQ season, cook them on the Weber. Either way, they turn out great!

Here’s a different approach to tri-tip (with a romesco sauce addition) by Mark Bittman who writes The Minimalist column for the New York Times. Bittman’s technique involves pan searing the tri-tip (along with the ingredients for the romesco sauce) in a cast-iron skillet followed by finishing the tri-tip in a 500 degree oven. Here’s his column about tri-tips, his recipe, and a 5-minute video showing him preparing it.

Bittman says that it can be hard to find tri-tips in New York – a problem we certainly don’t have out here in California – where the tri-tip is a very popular cut of beef!

Scott’s Perfect Charcoal BBQ Thick Cut Pork Chops

We love our Weber – an early model of the Performa. A while back we had this fancy indirect heating gas grill – but it just didn’t provide much flavor for BBQing so we gave it away and bought the Weber over 10 years ago. It’s been our regular fire ever since – IMHO nothing beats a hot charcoal fire for the best flavor.

On one of our morning walks last week, Chris Gulker started talking about his new Weber Performa BBQ and how he had cooked a pair of very tasty thick cut pork chops on it last weekend. Naturally, my ears perked up – pork chops are an old favorite but mostly pan fried with some sauerkraut, not BBQed.

Taking Chris’ excellent results to heart, we tried our own version on the Weber tonight. The result was superb – just great – and simple. I was cooking two thick cut chops – about 1.7 lbs of meat that we had picked up at a local butcher yesterday (priced at $5.99-$6.29 a pound in our neighborhood).

About 45 minutes before my intended cooking start time, I coated the chops with Penzey’s Galena Street Rub. This is a delightfully spicy rub that every Penzey’s fan seems to know about – we used it for the first time a few weeks back on our “ultra lazy” baby back ribs recipe.

I lit the charcoal with some newspapers in a chimney – we’ve been using a new Trader Joe’s hardwood charcoal that is a high heat version and very flavorful. After about 20 minutes in the chimney, it was ready to spead across half of the bottom of our Weber. I let it sit for another 10-15 minutes – and it gets very hot – almost full scale (>550 degrees) on the Performa’s built-in thermometer. Then, it’s time to sear the chops.

I seared them about 2 minutes on each side directly over the hottest part of the fire. After that, I moved them over to the indirect heat side of the Weber and cooked them for another 6 minutes without turning. By that time, the internal temperature was about 135 degrees. I removed them from the fire, covered them with foil and let them sit another 6-8 minutes during which the internal temperature continued to rise to over 145 degrees. At that point, they were ready to serve.

We cooked some sauerkraut with bacon and BBQ sauce in a skillet on the stove and served that with the chops along with some more of that tasty BBQ sauce. What a treat! – a very nice and relatively low cost Sunday BBQ. Served with a little summer rose wine, it was just delicious!

Scott's Perfect Charcoal BBQ Thick Cut Pork Chops

  • Servings: 2-4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Perfect grilled thick-cut pork chops on the Weber BBQ.

Credit: scottskitchen.com


  • Thick cut bone-in pork chops (two to four chops)
  • salt
  • pepper
  • Penzey’s Galena Street Rub


  1. In a medium bowl, toss together tomatoes, garlic, basil, mint, salt and black pepper.
  2. Cook and drain pasta.
  3. Mix together.

Scott’s Ultra Lazy Baby Back Ribs

We’ve got a wonderful local Penzey’s Spices store here in Menlo Park that opened about six months ago. Yesterday afternoon, while the rest of the family was shopping nearby, I browsed Penzey’s – with nothing particular in mind.

While looking around, I picked up one of their Early Summer 2009 catalogs and noticed the rib recipe inside the back cover. While I love to eat ribs, I’ve never really made them – for some unknown reason! I guess my perception was that they took a long time to cook and, in particular, on a BBQ you always had to worry about overcooking them, etc. Too much hassle.

The Penzey’s recipe, Teddi’s Grandpop’s Ribs, looked super simple to prepare – right up their with my other super simple recipe for slow roasted pork shoulder. Both of these recipes involve just seasoning the pork and putting it into the oven – for several hours. No fussing around worrying about how they’re doing, etc.

For the ribs, I used Penzey’s Galena Street Rib and Chicken Rub (great stuff!) and seasoned thoroughly one rack of baby back ribs from Trader Joe’s with the rub. Put the rack into a pre-heated oven at 220 degrees and you’re basically done. I did turn them twice – once at the two hour point and again at the three hour point. The rack was ready to eat at the four and a half hour point – and the ribs were delicious. A little BBQ sauce on the side and you’re good to go!

To accompany the ribs, I made Ridge Ever’s recipe for Bacon and Corn Chowder – a much more involved recipe but with a very delicious result! This wasn’t the best meal for a diet – but it sure was good!

Grilling Tri-Tip on the Weber Charcoal BBQ

Scott’s Lazy-S Oven Roasted Tri-Tip

Yesterday, we had a big family get together at our house – and grilled three tri-tip roasts on our Weber BBQ as one of the main courses. Roasting tri-tip in the oven is super easy – see my Lazy-S Oven Roasted Tri-Tip recipe) but it was a beautiful late Spring day and just called out for firing up the Weber and grilling instead.

For the meat, I picked up two plain tri-tips from our local meat market (Bianchini’s Market in Portola Valley) along with one of their dark, marinated versions (they sell four different tri-tip marinated versions – tough choice!) In total there was about 6 lbs of tri-tip.

For the fire, I used the local Lazzari Mesquite Charcoal – not the usual briquettes. The Lazzari is very chunky stuff – with pieces of charcoal of all sizes – and it adds great smoky flavor to the meats! I used the chimney starter to get it going and then added a couple of large chunks to the fire once I had emptied it out of the chimney starter.

The key to grilling tri-tip on the Weber is to have the coals only on one side of the grill – with the other side completely devoid of any coals. This provides a super-hot source of direct heat for searing the tri-tips and then a large area of indirect heat for finishing the grilling.

Once you’ve spread the charcoal over half of the grill, sear the roasts about 5-7 minutes on both sides. Then move them to the indirect heat area and let them cook over the indirect heat with the Weber top closed for another 20 or so minutes. Then, check the meat temperature with a meat thermometer – I removed ours yesterday at about 130 degrees – turned out just perfect for medium rare beef.

Importantly, wrap the tri-tips in foil and let them sit for another 15 minutes to allow the meat juices to reintegrate into the roast. Then slice thinly, across the grain, and serve. We had small buns for yesterday’s event – allowing mini sandwiches to be made – or not if you just wanted to taste the tri-tip by itself!

Scott’s Saturday Ground Turkey and Veggies Supper

A couple of weeks ago, I came across Elise Bauer’s recipe for “Mom’s Ground Turkey and Peppers” on her outstanding Simply Recipes web site. We made the recipe and enjoyed it very much.

This afternoon, with family company coming, we needed to put something quick together for Saturday supper – and, as it turned out, we had a package of ground turkey in the fridge.

We also had a package of Trader Joe’s “Fire Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Butter Sauce” in the freezer. (These veggies are also our favorite as a base for a quick chicken and rice stir-fry!)

So, we tried a new variation on Elise’s Mom’s ground turkey recipe – using these ingredients we had on hand – along with an 8 oz can of Muir Glen Tomato Sauce that was in our pantry. The result was great – in about 20 mins – with a bit more liquid/sauce than in Elise’s original recipe. We served it over a package of Trader Joe’s brown rice – so easy to cook in 3 mins in the microwave. Very tasty indeed!


  • Olive oil
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Fire Roasted Vegetables with Balsamic Butter Sauce
  • 1 tsp minced garlic
  • 1 package ground turkey (we used 1.25 lb Foster Farms from Safeway)
  • 1 tsp chipotle chili pepper
  • 1 Tbsp dried Italian parsley
  • 1 Tbsp dried cilantro
  • 1 8 oz can of Muir Glen tomato sauce
  • 1 packet Trader Joe’s Microwave Brown Rice


  1. Heat 2 Tbsp olive oil in a large skillet on medium high heat. Add the Fire Roasted Vegetables and cook until softened – about 5 minutes.
  2. Add the minced garlic and cook for 1 minute more. Transfer to a bowl and set aside.
  3. Add the ground turkey to the skillet in small “chunks”, sprinkle with salt, pepper, and chipotle chili powder. Add the Italian parsley and cilantro.
  4. Cook the ground turkey until it is browned on one side, then turn over to cook on the other side. Add the tomato sauce.
  5. When the turkey is cooked through (3-4 minutes), add back the vegetables and warm mixture. If serving with rice, cook the rice in the microwave for 3 mins.
  6. To serve, spoon the rice into bowls and cover with the turkey/vegetable mixture.

[First posted: June 6, 2009]

Scott’s Sunday Afternoon Braised Short Ribs with Pasta

This is a perfect recipe for a lazy Sunday afternoon! The short ribs need about 3 hours to cook – so start around 2 PM and you’ll be ready for a great dinner about 5:30 or 6 PM. Have a bottle of good Zinfandel handy – it’s a perfect match to this dish!

The inspiration for this recipe came from Giada De Laurentiis – but I made a bunch of modifications – basically to make it simpler and easier. I really don’t like recipes that use amounts that result in wasting portions of ingredients you buy in standard size packages. So, I adjusted – and simplified using some Trader Joe’s items – and the result was great!


  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 3 oz chopped pancetta (Columbus Salame package – available at Draeger’s)
  • 2-1/2 lbs short ribs
  • 1/4 cup flour
  • 1 package Trader Joe’s Mirepoix (combination of chopped carrots, onions, and celery)
  • 2 tsp chopped garlic
  • 1/2 cup chopped fresh Italian parsley
  • 1 14-oz can diced tomatoes (prefer Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 small can tomato paste (prefer Muir Glen organic)
  • 1 Tbs Herbs de Provence
  • 1 quart Trader Joe’s Organic Beef Broth
  • 3/4 cup red wine
  • 1 pound flat pasta – fettucine, tagliatelle (if you can find it), etc.


  1. Season the short ribs with flour, kosher salt and fresh ground pepper.
  2. Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Cook the pancetta until golden brown – about four minutes. Remove using a slotted spoon and set aside.
  3. Brown the short ribs in the same pot – on all sides. Remove and set aside.
  4. Add the Mirepoix to the pot. Add the garlic and parsley. Cook for 5-7 minutes until vegetables have softened a bit.
  5. Add the diced tomatoes and the tomato paste. Stir.
  6. Add the Herbs de Provence, beef broth, and wine. Add back the pancetta and the short ribs. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, covered, for 1 hour and 15 minutes.
  7. Remove the lid and simmer for another 1 hour and 30 minutes.
  8. Remove the short ribs and bones from the pot. Discard the bones. Shred the meat and return it to the pot. Season to taste.
  9. Cook the pasta (8-10 minutes in boiling, salted water for dried pasta).
  10. Drain pasta, combine into pot with meat and sauce. Stir.
  11. Serve in bowls – optionally add 1 tsp shaved dark chocolate (we tried this – it was too much – we’d skip the dark chocolate!). Serve with a good Zinfandel!

[First posted: March 14, 2009]

2009 Recession-Era Slow-Roasted Roast Beef

For some weird reason, earlier this week I happened across an old Cooks Illustrated article about Slow-Roasted Beef (link works for those with subscriptions to their online edition).

Perhaps because of the current state of the economy or who knows why, I found the recipe particularly interesting – as it described a cooking technique for cheap beef roast cuts (eye-round, etc.) that made these normally tough roast cuts of beef turn out tender and delicious.

Continue reading “2009 Recession-Era Slow-Roasted Roast Beef”

Adjusting the Williams Sonoma Cooking Probe Thermometer

This post goes in the “notes to self” category. We have a Williams-Sonoma Cooking Probe Digital Thermometer – and lost the manual eons ago. This thermometer was apparently actually made by Polder and private labelled to Williams-Sonoma.

Anyway, it’s the one with the 3 foot long cord to a probe that goes in the oven and into the meat. The problem I have with it is the somewhat arcane user interface it has for setting a different alarm temperature than the various defaults it comes pre-programmed with for the various types of meat. So, here’s how you do it!

Using the Meat button, scroll to the UI page. Hold down the Memory button until the Alert temperature starts blinking. Then, using the up/down (+/-) keys, set the temperature you want for the alert. Hit the Memory button again to store the new value, turn on the Alert switch, and you’re now set.

Happy cooking! 😉

Saturday Supper: Roast Beef & Balsamic Vegetables

Earlier today we picked up a copy of one of those “Best of Fine Cooking” issues at the local market that included a recipe that caught our eye: Roast Beef with Balsamic Vegetables.

This is one of those super easy Saturday or Sunday afternoon dinner dishes. Basically, you slice a red onion, cut small red potatoes in half, mix them in some olive oil, rosemay, kosher salt, fresh ground pepper and balsamic vinegar and combine with a well seasoned (kosher salt, fresh ground pepper, rosemary) beef roast in the same 9×13 Pyrex dish.

I went shopping early this afternoon for the “beef rump roast or top round roast” that the recipe called for. The butcher at our favorite local market (Bianchini’s Market in Ladera/Portola Valley) said he’d be happy to cut one of either of those for us but instead recommended their sirloin tip roast. Never one to turn down a professional’s recommendation, I bought a 3 lb sirloin tip roast and it turned out to be a great choice.

The original recipe called for fennel – but we don’t particularly like the fennel taste so we just left it out. We agreed that the next time we make it we’d either add more red onion or add shallots instead of the fennel. Not that it needed either – it was delicious the way we made it without the fennel! [Update: a friend suggests throwing in a few beets to roast as well – great idea!]


  • 3 lb Sirloin Tip Beef Roast
  • 3 Tbs olive oil
  • 2 Tbs balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tsp chopped fresh rosemary (we used Herbs de Provence instead)
  • Kosher salt and fresh-ground pepper
  • 1 large red onion, sliced thinly
  • 1-1/2 lb baby red potatoes, halved


  1. Pre-heat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Thinly slice the red onion.
  3. Wash and halve the red potatoes.
  4. Toss onion and potatoes with 2 Tbs olive oil, 1 Tbs balsamic vinegar, rosemary, salt and pepper.
  5. Brush the beef roast with 1 Tbs of olive oil and 1 Tbs of balsamic vinegar. Place roast into the center of a 9×13 Pyrex dish.
  6. Spread the onion/potato mixture around the beef roast.
  7. Roast for 1 hour and 15 minutes until beef registers 125 degrees on instant-read thermometer.
  8. Remove beef to cutting board – let rest for 10 minutes. Increase oven temp to 450 degrees and continue roasting vegetables for 10 minutes.
  9. Thinly slice the beef and serve with the roast vegetables. A side salad goes nicely with this combination.

[First posted: February 21, 2009]