A Guide to Masterfully Cutting Tri Tip Steak

Cooking up a delectable tri tip steak for dinner? Before you toss it on the grill, it’s crucial to learn the art of cutting tri tip to unlock the most tender and flavorful meat possible. Trust us, there’s a simple trick to slicing this cut of beef that will elevate both the taste and texture of your dish!

Raw tri tip steak on a cutting board with rosemary, garlic, and a chef

Understanding the Unique Nature of Tri Tip

Tri tip stands out among other cuts of beef due to its intriguing characteristics. Unlike most cuts, tri tip showcases two distinct grain patterns. It’s shaped like a boomerang or, as some call it, a “triangle steak.” One section boasts a longer, thinner grain running parallel to the meat, while the other forms a smaller triangle with a grain at an angle. Although the grain patterns become less apparent after cooking, they are clearly visible in its raw state, as you can see in these pictures.

Ensuring tenderness in most steaks relies heavily on the way they are sliced. Consequently, understanding these grain patterns is essential when it comes to tri tip.

Raw tri tip steak showcasing the distinctive grain patterns

Identifying the Intersection Point

When dealing with tri tip, it’s not just about knowing which way to slice the steak (with or against the grain). You must also identify where the two different grain patterns intersect. This visual cue will help you adjust your carving technique accordingly. Identifying this point is easiest when the steak is raw.

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In the image below, you can see me holding my knife right at the intersection of the two grain patterns. Keep in mind that each steak may differ in size and how the butcher cut it, but you should be able to identify the intersection point with ease.

After identifying the intersection, you have two options: cutting the steak raw and cooking the two parts separately or making a mental note for carving it after cooking.

Knife demonstrating where to cut a tri tip steak in order to separate it properly against the grain

The Art of Carving Tri Tip Steak

The trademark tenderness of a tri tip steak comes down to three essential factors: cutting against the grain, thinly slicing, and cutting on the bias.

First and foremost, allow the steak to rest after cooking before carving. This step is crucial for ensuring the juices redistribute back into the meat, resulting in a juicy, flavorful steak. Patience is key when it comes to carving a juicy steak!

Once the steak has rested (around 5 minutes should suffice), locate the intersection point again (unless you have already split the steak into two pieces), and proceed to slice it into two large sections. This will leave you with a thinner, longer piece and another piece resembling a triangle.

Now, it’s time to thinly slice the tri tip against the grain, while cutting on the bias. Cutting on the bias simply means that you should angle your knife slightly while slicing. This technique, combined with slicing against the grain, is a standard practice for most cuts of steak, including the tri tip. The key challenge lies in understanding the two different grain patterns and adjusting your slicing technique accordingly.

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Sliced tri tip steak on a cutting board

Essential Tools for Carving Tri Tip

You don’t need any fancy equipment to carve a tri tip steak. Simply arm yourself with a sharp chef’s knife and a spacious cutting board. If your cutting board features a channel around the perimeter to catch any juices, consider it a bonus! Don’t forget to pour those juices back over the meat when serving.

Tri Tip Recipes to Savor

Now that you’ve acquired the necessary skills to carve tri tip properly, you must be wondering how to cook it! We’ve got a few exciting recipes to share with you.

We highly recommend trying the reverse sear method. This technique involves cooking the steak low and slow until it reaches a temperature about 10 degrees below your desired level of doneness. Finish off by pan-searing it to achieve a luscious golden brown crust. Reverse searing is an uncomplicated method that yields exceptional results if you’re not in a rush.

Another popular cooking method for tri tip is smoking it. You can follow a simple and tasty smoked tri tip recipe.

Grilling tri tip is also a delightful option. Achieving a tender tri tip on the grill requires using a low indirect flame.

Alternatively, you can set aside your new carving skills and prepare the tri tip in a slow cooker. It’s such a versatile cut that you can cook it low and slow, then shred it for sandwiches or serve it with rice, mashed potatoes, and more.

Now that you’re armed with the knowledge to expertly cut tri tip, let your culinary adventure begin! Don’t forget to check out Rowdy Hog Smokin BBQ for more exquisite barbecue creations.

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