This is Tom’s simple northern Santa Maria style tri trip recipe (the southern style is spicy and slightly sweet). It takes time, but it’s worth it! Make sure you stick close to the grill when this is cooking because once it’s ready to eat, it’s gone!
One untrimmed trip tip
Coarse sea or kosher salt
Cracked Black Pepper
Start by lightly trimming off the hard fat flap. Be careful to not strip off all the fat (that’s flavor), but don’t throw away the fat trimmings. We’ll get to that later.
Now drench the meat with olive oil. DRENCH IT! Don’t be afraid. There is a reason for everything.
Next, go tip to tail with the salt. Do the same, or go a little lighter, with the pepper. Depending on your preference. Then, go heavy on the garlic powder.
Here’s where the magic takes place. Use your fingertips to press and poke the dry spices on the meat. (No rubbing the spices! Lots of people rub and that’s fine if you don’t mind all your future “crust of flavor” balling up and rolling off the meat.) Carefully flip that slap and repeat.
Crack open a beer and pour a little brew in the plate so it can mix with oil and dry ingredients. Cover up the trip tip and let it sit on the counter.
Go outside and get the coals going (yes it’s bbq, not outdoor grilling). I use Kingsford Original. NEVER use Matchlight coals ever. This is bbq, not a race to the finish. Now, crack a beverage and relax.
Now, for the smoke. For true Santa Maria style, use red oak. Although, any oak will work. Sometimes, I use mesquite and oak mix. I like to soak it overnight or longer so it smokes, not burns, when I’m feeling really fancy. Bring those coals up to heat and stack them in a corner of the grill. Put the cutoff fat slab, that you saved, next to the coals. Let it smoke.
Take your wood out of the water and stack it near, not on, the coals. Throw the meat on the grill, fat side up, directly over the coals (the hottest part of the grill). Keep an eye on it. As soon as it looks “sealed,” flip it so the fat side is down.
Cover the grill to avoid flare-ups. When the fat side has a nice “bark” on it, it’s done. Well, at least the hot stuff is done. Next comes the smoke. Take the meat and turn it fat side up, off the heat, on the other side of the grill.
By now, the wood should be smoking pretty good. Cover it, grab your beverage, have a seat, and talk story with your buddies.
This is where you decide how you like your trip tip. It’s usually served medium-well. That’s the most tender and flavorful way, but everyone has their own way. When you’ve decided that it’s done, take that bad boy off the grill and let it relax for 10 to 15 minutes.
Make sure you have a good sharp knife (I’ve seen people destroy a good cut of meat by sawing at it with a dull knife) and cut it CROSS GRAIN.
Let it sit in its juice, like you do in a hot tub after a killer day of snowboarding.