Tri-tip is a very Californian cut of meat, it comes from the “bottom sirloin sub primal” and it has a very distinctive triangular shape. It’s a very lean cut of meat, but quite tender, and can be grilled, roasted, slow cooked with bbq sauce or even thinly sliced for everything from bulgogi, to beef Stroganoff to stir fries. In California, you can usually buy either trimmed – with the otherwise thick layer of fat surrounding it removed – or untrimmed. The untrimmed version often goes on sale at my local Safeway, which makes it a very tempting cut to get during these times when meat prices are through the roof.
I’ve been cooking tri-tip for over twenty years, but it never occurred to me to check whether this cut was used in Argentinian cuisine. So it was only last week that I found out that tri-tip is colita de cuadril, which in Argentina is usually stuffed and then grilled. I don’t think my father ever made it, I don’t have any childhood memories of stuffed meat, beyond matambre, which is actually thin flank steak rolled around the stuffing. Of course, as soon as I ran across these Argentinian colita de cuadril recipes I wanted to ask my dad about it, but he passed away a couple of years ago. Alas, I did write about it on Facebook and tagged him – and a couple of his friends responded telling me about it. That was very sweet, and I’m writing it down here so I can remember how nice it felt.
In any case, I had bought a twin pack of tri-tip roasts on sale and had used one to make Floribbean Tri-tip Roast with Chimichurri Verde, so I had another one already trimmed and ready to be stuffed. There are many ideas for stuffings online, and this one sounded particularly good. I did adapt it considerably to account for my taste and ingredients available in California (in other words, I did not use blood sausage).
I roasted the tri-tip rather than grilling it, and I overcooked it (you might want to cook it for 30 minutes total and check to see if it’s done), but overall it was a very tasty dish and I would make it again – though what I really want to do is experiment with different stuffings, so if tri-tip continues to be on sale this summer, you can expect more recipes.
The hardest part of making stuffed tri-tip is cutting the tri-tip. You want to cut as wide and deep a hole as you can without opening up any sides. I found that cutting a couple of inches deep at a time worked best. But I also found that I didn’t have a knife long enough to go all the way to the end, and my hand was too big to get inside it. I think I might invest in a long knife for future tri-tips.
- 1 tri-tip roast
- 1 tsp olive oil
- 3 thick bacon slices, cut into 1/2″ pieces
- 1/2 onion, chopped
- 1 large leek, trimmed and white and stalk thinly sliced in semi-circles
- salt & pepper to taste
- 1 small apple, diced
- 1 9oz Mexican chorizo
- 4 – 6 oz fresh Mozzarella, cut into big chunks.
Preheat oven or grill to 300°F.
Trim excess fat from both sides of the tri-tip. Make a wide incision on the center of the larger end of the tri-tip and cut across the wide side, being careful to not pierce the sides. Continue cutting deeper and deeper, as wide as you can without piercing the sides and as far as you can get. Set aside while you prepare the filling.
Heat oil over medium heat in a sauté pan. Add the bacon bits and cook until the fat is rendered, about 5 minutes. Add the onion and cook until it starts to soften. Add the leek and cook for a couple of minutes. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Add the apple and cook for a couple more minutes. Remove the chorizo from its casing and add to the sauté pan. Continue cooking, stirring frequently, until the chorizo is cooked through.
Stuff the tri-tip alternating between Mozzarella chunks and stuffing, going as deep into the tri-tip as possible and filling it up as much as you can. If you are grilling it, tie the roast shut with kitchen string.
Transfer roast to a baking sheet and roast in the oven for about 15 to 20 minutes per side. Alternatively, place on the grill over indirect heat and cook for about an hour, turning half way.