For the Love of Meat

21 Dec

Years ago at a fancy butcher shop, I noticed a cut of meat that was new to me.  Piled high in the brightly lit case, was a stack of triangular-shaped mounds of beef,  known as trip-tip fillets, tri-tip roasts, or beef triangles.  They “sit” at the bottom of the sirloin, weigh 1-1/2 to 2-1/2 pounds, and are about two inches thick. Flavorful, but lean, they are best eaten rare so that the juices trickle down your chin.   I created a recipe for Bon Appetit using this cut and was reminded of it this weekend.  On our way to see the spectacular Christmas tree at Rockefeller Center, we walked through the retail spaces level with the ice skating rink.  New to us was a fast/casual restaurant called Tri-Tip Grill, featuring none other than this heretofore obscure hunk of meat.  It seems that this cut is very popular in California and newer to East coast folks.  The restaurant, too, had its origins in California and has only recently attracted attention in New York.

Whereas a tri-tip fillet will never satisfy in the same way that a game-y aged rib-eye or velvety filet mignon might, it is a great cut to use for the holidays: fulfilling the promise of abundance without the financial burden. Why not buy a pair of tri-tips and invite a few neighbors for a holiday dinner this week?  Serve the juicy rare steak slices with a sweet potato puree flecked with fresh ginger and a hint of freshly-squeezed tangerine juice.   Then stir-fry a wok-ful of sugar snap peas tossed with tiny cubes of bacon and radish — cut the same size so that they “mimic” each other.   All will come together in a harmonious triptych of flavors textures, and color.  A tri-tip triptych!  Not easy to say three-times quickly.

A trickle of “hot” Chinese mustard will light up your taste buds.  If you don’t want to make your own, now’s a good time to gather all those little takeout packets lurking in your fridge.

Tri-Tip Filet in Soy & Red Wine with “Chinese Mustard”

2 pound trip-tip beef fillet
1/3 cup dry red wine
2 tablespoons soy sauce
3 cloves garlic, very finely minced
2-1/2 tablespoons dry mustard
3 bunches scallions
12 ounces baby portabello mushrooms
3 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons honey

Put tri-tip in a shallow bowl. Whisk together wine, soy sauce, garlic and 1/2 tablespoon dry mustard.  Pour over meat.  Let sit 30 minutes at room temperature, turning meat often. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Meanwhile, in a small bowl, mix together 2 tablespoons dry mustard, 2 tablespoons honey, 2 tablespoons cold water and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Whisk until smooth.  Let sit.  Remove roots and dark green parts of scallions and discard.  Cut scallions in half lengthwise.  Trim mushrooms and wipe with a damp cloth.  Put scallions and mushrooms on a rimmed baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil and toss until vegetables are coated.  Sprinkle lightly with salt.  Remove meat from marinade.  Pat dry with paper towels.  Season meat with salt and pepper.  Put meat on baking sheet, with scallions and mushrooms arranged around meat.  Roast for 12 minutes, turn meat and vegetables over and cook 10 minutes longer, until an instant-read thermometer registers 125 degrees for rare. Transfer meat to cutting board and let rest 10 minutes.  Cut in 1/4-inch thick slices. Serve with scallions, mushrooms, and any pan juices.  Drizzle with Chinese mustard.  Serves 4

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