I Wanted A Tri-Tip
As you may have gathered from all the kvetching you've read on NOCA sites, we haven't had much barbecuing weather around here this spring. Whine, whine, whine. But we caught a beautiful one last Sunday, so I rushed outside with a big bag of charcoal and a cross-rib roast that I bought from a charming young man at the Prather Ranch booth at the Marin Farmer's Market last week.
I really wanted a tri-tip, a uniquely Western cut that one doesn't find back east. It's marbled with fat so it does very well on the grill, becoming downright luscious. I was late to the market, however, so they were out of trip tips but the young man assured me that a cross-rib roast was just the ticket. "Cut the strings," he said, "and it will flatten out nicely to grill like a tri-tip."
I cut the strings. It did not flatten out. It remained entirely roastlike, about four inches deep and six inches across but, what the heck, I slapped it on the grill anyway and rejoiced in the thick, fragrant smoke wafting out the holes in my Weber. I mixed up a little mustard butter with herbs to anoint the roast after resting and could hardly wait until it felt firm enough to my poking finger.
It was perfectly cooked and the herbal mustard butter was a great accompaniment but should you ever be tempted to substitute this cut for a tri-tip, be advised that they are in no way similar.
This was by far the chewiest piece of beef I have ever used my grinders for - it reminded me of the rubbery octopus I had at a banquet in Japan as the grinning hosts watched my reaction. I think it was meant as a joke on the Gaijin; the more I chewed, the larger it got - like the inside of a golf ball when the pressure of the casing is released. I finally had to swallow the darn thing down or risk choking on it so I toasted my hosts with a cheery "Banzai!" and washed it down with a swig of sake. Cross-rib roast is a lot like that.
We have some left, all smoky and wonderful, but I plan to use it to make Boeuf Bourguignon. The lardons will add some much-needed fat to the dish and the long, slow cooking will tenderize the meat. I'm actually pretty psyched about the idea of a smoky Boeuf Bourguignon, so I'm not sad, just wiser now. When I ask for tri-tip next time, I won't settle for cross-rib roast, no matter how charming the seller.
Labels: cross-rib roast