|Chef Thomas Keller|
Today marks a milestone in the history of Chewing the Fat. Since we started this blog almost 6 years ago on the 30th of October, we've seen our readership grow from a few faithful friends to over 37,000 page views last month alone. And today marks our 600th post! What better way to celebrate than to revisit our most popular recipe ever. It's from Thomas Keller and it tops the best-read list with 17,514 page views. In many ways, it epitomizes what I try to do here every week: Tell a story, share a food discovery and along the way entertain our readers. That's why I think this post bears repeating today. So here's to Chewing the Fat and here's to you my dear readers.
When Trader Joe’s came to our neighborhood, it brought plenty of California with it. Among the items was something called a Tri-Tip Roast of beef. I’d never heard of the cut at all but TJ’s meat case is full of the stuff. Trader Joe’s brands practically everything in the store with its own label. So you’ll find several pre-marinated versions of the Tri-Tip all attributed to the retailer. I know I should appreciate the time-saving this gives the harried cook who rushes into the store at the end of the day and has to get dinner on the table the moment he or she gets home. But if, like me, you want to control sodium intake and everything else that goes into processed foods, Trader Joe’s offers a virgin version of the beef. However I still had no idea what the cut was or, for that matter, how to cook it. Then I ran across a recipe for Tri-Tip from none other than the great Thomas Keller.
Let’s get the question of what a tri-tip is so we can move on to our recipe and Thomas Keller. It’s a 1 ½ to 2 ½ lb. triangular piece of meat that sits at the bottom of the sirloin. Because it is extremely low in fat, it generally ended up in the hamburger pile or chopped into cubes for soup making. Today it is prized for its rich flavor. However, having a lower fat content means it can dry out faster than fattier cuts. But use a good rub or marinade, and it’s hard to go wrong. And almost certainly it will win you over on price if nothing else. Or perhaps you will be tempted to try it because Chef Keller uses it.
|Per Se overlooks Central Park|
The recipe comes from Keller’s “Ad Hoc at Home” (Artisan/Workman 2009), and it contains many of the items served at Chef Keller’s second restaurant in Yountville, "Ad Hoc". I have three of the Chef’s cookbooks, “The Laundry” and “Bouchon”, and while all three are filled with glorious food, gorgeously photographed, the recipes in the first two books are just pipe dreams for most home cooks. “Ad Hoc At Home” succeeds in making its recipes far more approachable.
|An early postcard of the Dune Club|
in Naragansett, RI where Thomas Keller
got his start.
|Ad Hoc, as you can see, is no Per Se.|
Recipe for Santa Maria-Style Tri-Tip from Thomas Keller’s “Ad Hoc At Home”
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1/2 teaspoon piment d'Espelette (smoked paprika)
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
1 teaspoon sweet paprika
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.