Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Green Chile Rubbed Tri-Tip (Raised Direct Method)

I have been into beef tri-tips the past few months.   It is a tender and beefy cut that, to me, is every bit as good as a roast tenderloin.  In fact, I might like it better.

Last week I reverse seared a tri-tip, which is a technique of slow roasting to the done point and then finishing with a quick red hot sear.  This week I am using a technique called "raised direct" which is when you grill over hot coals but with distance between the food and heat.   

Served with salsa and charro beans.
The recipe for the charro beans comes from Steven Raichlen's BBQ USA.  We made it pretty much as written and these will definitely be joining our table anytime we make TexMex meals from now on.

Green Chile Rubbed Tri-Tip

  • 1 tri-tip beef roast
  • 1.5 tsp kosher salt
  • 1 tsp ground black pepper
  • 1/2 tsp garlic powder
  • 1/2 tsp oregano
  • 1/2 tsp green chile dust

  1. Season the roast with the remaining ingredients.  Wrap with plastic wrap and refrigerate for 4-6 hours. Take off of refrigeration during the last hour and let rest at room temp.
  2. Set up your grill for raised direct heat (see notes below) and preheat to 400f. 
  3. Grill the tri-tip with the lid closed.  Flip about every 6 minutes and cook until the roast reaches an internal temperature of 127f for medium rare.  This will take between 24 and 30 minutes.
  4. Remove and let rest on a raised rack for 10 minutes.  Slice against the grain into 1/2 inch slices.
Okay, here's the deal on cooking "raised direct", it's simple.  All you are doing is putting a little distance between your food and the hot coals.  This accomplishes a few things and their are technical reasons why (inverse square law, etc) but who cares.   In plain terms, the two advantages are:
  1. More evenly cooked roast 
  2. A bigger target for getting it cooked to the temperature you want.
For example, I want to cook this roast to medium rare (pull at internal temp 125-130f).  If I direct grill close to a hot 400f, the internal temps will rise fast and the time the roast spends between 125 and 130 will be brief, heading straight on to overdone and dry.   But doing raised direct grilling keeps it in that target range for minutes longer.  For conceptual folks, think of your target range as a destination.  For visual learners like me, look at it in this way in terms of length of time. 
Just a visual representation, not an actual graph, just to be clear.
You can get the extra distance several ways.  For grills with adjustable cooking grates, raise it up to higher settings.  For grills with adjustable coal trays, lower it down.  For kamado or grills with standard round grates, I like using a raised grid like pictured below.  They are cheap to make and you can buy they parts at most local hardware stores. 

I still put my Craycort cast iron grate on top of that.  Not required, I just like cooking on it.

The green chile dust that I used was one that I bought after seeing reviewed on Hot Sauce Daily.   I figured that Crazy Good Green Chile Dust must be "crazy good" since they one a 2013 Scovie Award (those are a big deal in the chile head industry).  

You can see the green chile dust isn't so green as much as it is a "green tinted off white".   Tasted straight up it has an earthy flavor kind of like cumin but with the taste and mild heat of roasted green chiles.

We like to save money by buying a bag of untrimmed tri-tips from Costco, trimming them ourselves and vacuum sealing them.

Cutting up veggies for the charro beans and salsa.

Grilling Tip:  When counter space is a premium around grills, I like to use paper plates as "stackable mise en place"

Finishing up.
The one slightly tricky thing about tri-tips is slicing them.  You need to slice them against the grain but the grain of the tri-tip changes direction (see the arrows in the picture).  I cut it in half where the change occurs like this, then turn and slice against the grain.

Fantastic meal and I am really enjoying tri-tips.   I think the next one I do will be cooked sous-vide.


  1. This sounds amazing, Chris. And HOW do I now know about Green Chile dust? With my eternal love of all green chile! I'm a slacker.

    P.S. sous-vide? Do I need to turn completely green with envy now?!

  2. I've always thought certain things would cook better a little higher from the fire.. will have to try this. The tr-tip looks fantastic... as always :)

  3. The raised direct method sounds a little bit like smoking or steaming to me...but also part grilling? It's like a compromise between the three when you can't decide what to do lol.

  4. Great tutorial Chris and I to am a big fan of tri-tip and understand why the west coasters have kept them a secret. We bought some green chile powder in Denver and will give this a try.

  5. Wow. The beef looks so tasty and the beans do too. I need to find that green chile dust!


  6. Tri-tip looks outstanding. Wish it was available here more often. Just something I'll stumble on occassionally, but the stores don't carry them all the time. Great tip on the slicing. How was the chile dust?

    From what I remember, Steve's beans are pretty good (though they don't hold a candle to my wife's). I believe he has two recipes in his book, one using canned beans if you are in pinch. They aren't bad either.

  7. You're a mad grilling scientist! Looks delish and perfect.

  8. What a delicious meal, Chris! The green chili dust sounds wonderful!

  9. Great tutorial Chris. Green chili dust is a new one on me. I bet it tastes incredible, as I'm fond of green chilis.

  10. This is our preferred method of cooking tri-tip. Here in California all our meat cases are stock full of tri-tips. They go on sale regularly I use a Weber Kettle and just close the bottom vent slightly and that works for us.

  11. I love tri-tips and I just happen to have some green chile powder in the pantry that's not been used. I bought it at a Mexican Market on the eastern plains and just couldn't figure out what to do with it. Thanks for the idea Chris.

  12. I'm going to have find me some green chile dust!

  13. I must make a special trip to get a tri-tip. None of my normal haunts carry them and us "visual" people don't think of something if we don't see them...
    I do love the chart too..

  14. Chris, thanks for the great info on how to correctly slice a trip tip! I've done trip tip before but I am sure I missed this part!

  15. Thank you Chris for this awesome recipe. I'm so thrilled to see that you used Crazy Good's Green Chile Dust! We LOVE that stuff! Maybe this recipe will make it into your upcoming cookbook :-)