Californians know the tri-tip roast as Santa Maria tri-tip, named after the small town on the state's Central Coast where this cut first came to light in the 1950s.
Tri-tip, sometimes called bottom sirloin roast and triangle roast, is a hindquarter cut from the bottom sirloin that's blessed with a rich flavor and not too much nor too little marbling.
In fact, it qualifies as lean, according to government guidelines, meaning a 3.5-ounce serving boasts less than 10 grams of total fat, 4.5 grams or less of saturated fat and less than 95 milligrams of cholesterol. Each steer yields only two tri-tip roasts.
When grilled, it's best not to heat past medium-rare or medium. The longer you let a tri-tip linger over the flames, the tougher and drier this lean cut gets.
Tri-tip also lends itself beautifully to braising or roasting and shines brilliantly when prepared in a slow cooker.
Tri-tips come in slightly different sizes, but they don't top out at much more than 3 pounds or so.
But pay attention when you spot a tri-tip. Unless you find one labeled "hand trimmed," you're also buying a thick layer of flab called a fat cap that covers one side. And that's the side you won't see facing up in the package.
So, pick it up, then try to peek to see how thick that fat is because you don't want to pay around $9 per pound for excess flab.
SOUTH OF THE BORDER SHREDDED TRI-TIP
Hands on: 5 minutes; total time: 14 hours, 10 minutes; serves: 8-10
1/4 cup olive oil
4 garlic cloves, crushed
2 tablespoons dried oregano
1 finely chopped chipotle pepper in adobo sauce
Juice from one Mexican or key lime, about 1 tablespoon
1 tri-tip roast about 3 pounds, trimmed
For the tri-tip:
1 large yellow onion, thinly sliced
4 bay leaves
2 poblano chilies, roasted over an open flame until charred all over, then diced
5 garlic cloves, crushed and lightly browned in 1 teaspoon of olive oil. Be careful not to burn garlic.
1 14.5-ounce can fire roasted diced tomatoes
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
For the marinade: Combine oil and garlic in a heat-proof cup and heat in microwave for about 45 seconds on high. Set aside until cool.
Once garlic oil is cool, combine with oregano, chipotle pepper and lime juice. Place in a large zip lock bag and add the tri-tip. Massage the bag so that the roast is completely coated with the marinade paste. Refrigerate overnight or for at least 6 hours.
Remove the marinated tri-tip from the refrigerator about 45 minutes before cooking.
For the tri-tip: Place the onion slices and bay leaves on the bottom of the slow cooker.
Combine the rest of the ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
Place the tri-tip and marinade on top of the onion and bay leaves. Pour the tomato mixture over the roast. Cover and cook on high for 4 hours or on low for about 8 hours. Tri-tip should be easy to shred when done.
Perfect for burritos or tacos. Shredded tri-tip can be tightly wrapped in plastic and frozen.
Nutrition per serving, based on 8: 378 calories (63 percent from fat), 33 grams protein, 1 gram carbohydrates, 1 gram fiber, 26 grams fat (9 grams saturated), 111 milligrams cholesterol, 109 milligrams sodium.