Sunday, April 11, 2010

Thomas Keller's Santa Maria-Style Tri-Tip

I feel like a fool for forgetting to take photos (though one with a genius for alliteration!). It's just that it takes a while to get this meat on the table, and by the time it was ready I was starving.

You need to prep 24 hours ahead with a spice rub, and then you need to take the meat out of the refrigerator half an hour before cooking, sear it and roast it for up to an hour, and then let rest for thirty minutes. That is a long time to wait!

This is all to say that I made Thomas Keller's Santa Maria-Style Tri-Tip from his
Ad Hoc At Home for the second time last night.

I'll insert a photograph of his autograph in my copy for your admiration.

I waited in line with Fe at Williams Sonoma in Santa Monica so that I could meet my hero for the second time. (The first time was at the French Laundry, just after dining there. Needless to say, that time was more thrilling.)

The line was long, and it was hot out, and Fe was a cranky little almost-one-year-old. Having Fe with me actually helped a lot. We got to buck the line entirely, because I had my babe strapped to my front like a Bouchon-bomber.

Keller was lovely to Fe and to me. I tried to get him to sign the book with, "Jacqueline, Let's have dinner soon." He didn't bite! Instead he wrote, "Jacqueline, It's all about family." Very sweet.

Ad Hoc At Home is definitely a more realistic book for home cooks than The French Laundry Cook Book or Bouchon, but let's not kid ourselves -- Thomas Keller will almost never give you recipes that are easy to make. He can't, because he is a perfectionist and a genius. His recipes will always take work.

The Santa Maria-Style Tri-Tip is actually not difficult at all, by Keller standards. The only thing you have to remember is to plan ahead. Pull the meat out of the fridge early, so that you aren't eating dinner at 10 p.m.!

Now, I don't have Piment d'Espelette in my pantry, although I have been meaning to order some on-line for ages. Cayenne is not the perfect substitute, but I think it probably works well enough in a pinch. I thought the results were terrific, but I have never had this dish prepared with the Piment d'Espelette -- so obviously, I can't compare.

I mentioned that I've made the dish twice. The first time I left the spice rub on for only about eight hours.
This short cut falls short! The meat really does need to be cloaked in spices for the full twenty-four hours. It makes a big difference.

I love how one tablespoon of butter and five thin slices of Meyer lemon can make such an impact. I could taste the lemon and butter in every bite. The first time around with this recipe, I used regular lemon. Keller prefers the Meyer lemon, and I agree that it imparts a more complex flavor. I would not, however hesitate to make this again, if all I had was a regular old lemon hanging around. The difference is not that noticeable.

Last time I cooked the meat to 135 degrees for medium rare, per Keller's recipe. It was much closer to medium after resting for half an hour. I talked to my mom about this and she said that the meat should not cook past 125 degrees for medium rare. That is what I did this second time around and it was a perfect medium rare after resting for twenty minutes.

And speaking of resting... This is so important. The juice has the opportunity to spread throughout the roast and each bite is fantastically juicy.

I'm so sorry there is no photo of the Tri-Tip, but please enjoy this lovely picture of the man himself, with yours truly and little Fe.

Santa Maria-Style Tri-Tip

One 2 1/2 pound tri-tip roast, about 3 inches thick at its thickest point
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper (I understand that Keller always carries around his own pepper mill so that he can consistently have the perfect grind!)
1/2 teaspoon piment d'Espelette (I used Cayenne.)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
Kosher salt
Canola oil
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 rosemary sprig
1 garlic clove, smashed, skin left on
5 very thin lemon slices, preferably Meyer lemon, seeds removed

One day ahead, combine the black pepper, Espelette, and paprika and rub all over the meat. Wrap the meat tightly in plastic wrap and refrigerate.

Thirty minutes before cooking, remove the meat from the refrigerator.

Preheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Set a roasting rack in a roasting pan.

Pat the meat dry with paper towels and sprinkle on all sides with salt. Heat some oil in a large frying pan over high heat. When the oil shimmers, add the meat and sear, without moving it, for 1 to 1 1/2 minutes to brown the bottom. Turn the meat over, add the butter, rosemary, garlic, and lemon slices, and brown the second side of the meat, another two minutes or so. As it browns, spoon the butter mixture over the top of the meat from time to time. Transfer the meat to the rack and arrange the lemon, rosemary, and garlic on top.

Put the roasting pan in the oven and roast for 40 to 60 minutes, depending on the thickness of the roast, until the temperature in the center of the meat is 135 degrees (or 125 degrees if you are me). Let the meat rest on the rack in a warm spot (such as the back of the stove) for about 30 minutes for medium rare, allowing the juices to redistribute.

Cut the roast into thin slices, carving against the grain. Garnish with the lemon, rosemary and garlic.


Monique said...

Please let's add this to the list of dishes I would love for you to prepare for me!

Anonymous said...

Sounds fabulous but this is not
Santa Maria style tri-tip. If you
don't put it over open pit oak fire you are just making a tasty roast.