We’ll be hosting Christmas Eve again at our house this year – and we’re handling the just main courses while the rest of the family is bringing salads, side dishes, and desserts!
Last year, we were about to head for Hawaii for another family reunion – and didn’t cook anything! But, this year, we’re back with our favorites again: a combination of honey-baked ham along with our easy Lazy-S easy oven-roasted tri-tips.
We first shared our approach to this Christmas Eve menu back in 2005 – and we’ll be following the same approach this year. The honey-baked ham is basically just a warm up exercise – nothing complicated about preparing it.
For the tri-tips, we’ll have one plain (unmarinated) tri-tip along with a couple of marinated tri-tips. Our favorite local meat market (Bianchini’s Market in Portola Valley) highly recommends their Zinfandel-marinated tri-tips – so we’ll be giving them a try this year. But, the unmarinated version – with just lots of salt and pepper several hours ahead of roasting – is pretty special too!
See the directions here for how we like to prepare the tri-tips (in the morning) and then cook them (in the late afternoon)!
For our large Christmas Eve family get togethers, we like to serve main course meat entrees that are really easy to eat in a buffet style setting – without formal sit down dinner place settings for every guest. Most of our guests will be eating with their plate in their lap, so something lovely like a slow-roasted prime rib just won’t do.
We’ve settled on serving a combination of honey baked ham, just heated to room temperature in a 450 degree oven for little more than 5 minutes, and beef tri-tip roasts. The ham is super easy to prepare, comes basically pre-sliced (spiral cut) and preparation literally requires unwrapping it, putting it briefly in the oven to warm and then choosing which serving platter to use to present it! A couple of choices in gourmet mustards to accompany the ham and that half of the main course is ready to go!
For the tri-tips, we usually get three of them and try different rubs/marinades. My Dad particularly likes his beef plain – so one of the tri-tips will always just be salt and pepper rubbed. The others get a bit more exotic! But the rub’s not the point – the easy preparation in the oven is what these tri-tips are all about.
Doing the tri-tips in the oven sacrifices a bit of the smoky flavor from the Weber BBQ version — but the super-easy preparation and not having guests following me out onto the patio!) makes the oven version perfect for winter-time cooking and entertaining. But you’ll want to do the rubs (or marinades) enough in advance to ensure the beef ends up being very flavorful.
I call these my “Lazy-S” tri-tips – Lazy-S for Lazy Scott! Note: As I’m writing this, it strikes me that beef short ribs might just be another great holiday buffet dish. I mean the kind that have already fallen off the bone after hours of braising! I’ll have to experiment with that sometime – although on a day when I’ve got the energy and dedication required to tend short ribs much of the day!
After breakfast on the day you’re entertaining, prepare the tri-tip using whatever rub or marinade you prefer. I like to use coarse sea salt (applied heavily) along with whatever rub I’ve chose. For the plain version my Dad prefers, it’s just the coarse seal salt and some fresh ground pepper. After rubbing/marinading, put each tri-tip into a large Ziplock-style plastic bag, remove as much air as possible, seal it, and put it back in the refrigerator. Have a nice day!
When you’re ready to cook, here’s the drill. Allow an hour from this point to serving.
Take the tri-tips out of the refrigerator and their Ziplock bags and begin letting them warm to room temperature. Place the tri-tips into a suitable oven roasting pan (I prefer to use Pyrex baking dishes because they clean up so readily!) Preheat the oven to 450 degrees.
When the oven’s warmed up to 450 degrees, put the roasts into the oven and roast for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.
Open the oven and cover the tri-tips with aluminum foil. Reduce the heat to 350 degrees and roast for 15 minutes.
Open the oven and remove the foil. Continue roasting at 350 degrees for a final 15 minutes.
At this point, the meat has roasted for a total of 40 minutes and should be just right for medium-rare — but you can’t serve it yet. Remove the tri-tips from the oven and re-cover with foil. Let them sit for 15 minutes outside the oven.
Now they’re ready! At 55 minutes from when you started, remove the foil, place a tri-tip on a cutting board and slice 1/4 inch slices diagonally across the grain. Each slice will end up being 1-4 inches in length. Serve on a platter with accompanying sauces – BBQ sauce, steak sauce are good to have along side.That’s it. Enjoy! Serve with a side of Perfect Roasted Potatoes for a special treat! (Note that a second oven may be required for their combined preparation because of the temperature gymnastics used in both recipes!)