The Engineer’s Kitchen: Wine and Pepper Tri Tip

Engineering the Official Summer Starting BBQ

BBQ Grill with Pot
Tri Tip Beef on the Grill

Welcome back to our mid week lunch blog. As the outside thermal temperatures start to rise, we can feel that summer is close and the grill will be tested. I know we have had some grilling blogs already this year, but everyone keeps telling me that the summer BBQ season does not officially start until Memorial Day Weekend. Well, seeing that we were able to take a little time off and enjoy a wonderful three day weekend with our family and friends, we held our official summer kick off BBQ today. It was a perfect time to go big with our mid week lunch menu as we had quite a full office to feed. It was also a time to make the statement that Silicon Valley / Bay Area BBQ is not something you will find too often East of California. Northern California in general is known for many things such as technology and fine wineries. While grilling an apple would seem appropriate from the technological viewpoint, the keyboard can be quite hard to chew. Instead we decided to go the other route. For our lunch menu today we bring you the following:

  • Napa Wine and Pepper Encrusted Tri-Tip
  • Bourbon baked beans
  • Home-style Potato Salad
  • Fresh Baby Spring Green Salad

Why Engineer A Marinade?

Using a mild acid in a marinade will help to tenderize the meat. This can be achieved by using a citric acid such as lemon juice, or acetic acids like those found in vinegar. A chemical reaction known as the Mallard Reaction denatures, or changes the structure of the proteins found in the meat. The similar reaction happens when the proteins are cooked. This is what gives cooked meats a better flavor and color, as well as texture, compared to their raw versions.

Crushed black, green and pink peppercorns along with dried thyme, rosemary and course sea salt, make a simple but effective dry rub, as it allows for the marinades and the natural meat flavors to stand out. I prefer to add part of the dry rub to the tri-tip and let stand for about 10-15 minutes before adding the marinade and then re-dusting with the remainder just before grilling. You can use a basic marinade consisting of:

  • 1 cup Red Wine
  • 3 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 2 teaspoons each Lemon and Lime Juice
  • 2 teaspoons Dried Rosemary or Oregano

The acidic values of the red wine help to break down and tenderize the meat, while the citrus juices and rosemary combine for a savory yet bright flavor to compliment the wine. Let the meat marinade for somewhere between 2 to 4 hours.

You can’t go wrong serving up a side of potato salad with any BBQ. The coolness of the salad displays a good contrast and balances out the pepper flavors of the tri-tip. The better potato salads, I prefer, will have a creamy texture spiked by the slight crunch of petite diced vegetables. I also like to keep it simple. Please feel free to comment on the following recipe, as I know there are many variations handed down generation to generation and this is what I would consider the basis for those variations.

  • 2 pounds of russet potatoes
  • 1 cup light mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons sweet relish
  • 1-2 teaspoons mustard
  • 1 teaspoon white vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons finely diced celery
  • 1 tablespoon finely diced pimento
  • 1 teaspoon of fresh diced parsley
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Boil off the potatoes until tender but still able to keep their shape. You do not want them to fall apart easily. Once cooled to the touch, peel and dice potatoes into ½ pieces. And place in large bowl. In a medium bowl, combine the remaining ingredients until well mixed. Add the wet mixture to the potatoes and toss gently to coat. Refrigerate salad for about an hour before serving.

We hoped you enjoyed our kick off to summer menu and hope to see you back next week to see what we have cooking up our sleeve.


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