Randy's Grilled Tri Tip with Ancho Chile & Tequila Marinade

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This is my favorite recipe for Tri Tip. If you have ready many of our recipes on Great-Grilling.com you may have figured out that I really like my chilies and one of my favorite cuts of beef is Tri Tip. Grilled tri tip are the local favorite on California’s central coast. This recipe is a departure from the traditional tri tip recipes. It brings a bit more Mexican flavors to the forefront and however the more traditional recipes have a fair amount of influence from the days of California being part of Mexico. This dish really should be cooked using charcoal or a traditional red oak fire. In the preparation instructions I give the directions for charcoal, since most areas will not have access to large amounts of red oak for fuel.

Do make the fresh cherry tomato salsa or a fresh salsa for this dish; it really makes a major difference in the appeal of the dish. 

I like to serve this dish with a nice green salad, grilled red potatoes, white beans with cheddar cheese and garlic bread or really fresh flour tortillas. 

2 Tri tips

Ancho Chile & Tequila Marinade 

1 tablespoon Ancho chile powder

½ cup lime juice

½ cup chopped cilantro

1 tablespoon Mexican oregano

1 tablespoon Spanish smoked paprika (sweet)

1 tablespoon ground cumin

2 Serrano chilies seeded and sliced very thin

½ cup olive oil

1/3 cup soy sauce

1/3 cup gold tequila good quality 

¼ cup finely chopped fresh garlic

2 teaspoons lime zest, green part only

2 tablespoons coarsely ground black pepper

1 tablespoon kosher or sea salt

Combine all ingredients and marinate the tri tips for 4 to 8 hours. When you remove your tri tips, reserve the left over marinade for basting your tri tips



Cherry Tomato Salsa

For this salsa it is important to pick the best cherry tomatoes that you can find. I made this just before Labor Day, so we had awesome sweet 100 type tomatoes. If you cant find great cherry tomatoes, get the best tomatoes that you can.

1 pound cherry tomatoes

3 green onions finely sliced

¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

1 Serrano chile or to taste

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

Salt to taste

Combine all and stir.


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Cooking Your Tri Tip

2 red oak chunks, or 3 cups of oak chips. Other woods can be substituted but oak is the authentic flavor. If using chips, soak them in water for a half hour prior to cooking time.

Reserved Ancho Tequila Marinade

Prepare your charcoal grill for indirect cooking, placing your coals on the sides. I use one load in my chimney starter.  Once the coals are lit, spread them around the sides of the BBQ,  

Place the oak chunks or ½ the chips on the coals, place the tri tips in the center of the grate away from the coals or chips to avoid burning on the flare ups. Cover the grill and allow to cook and smoke. I have my vents around ½ way open on the top of the grill. 

Check the coals and tri tip every 20 minutes or so and baste with the reserved marinade. If you are using chunks of oak you may need to turn them to keep them generating smoke. If they burn up prior to the tri tips being cooked add more. If using chips you will need to replenish them after 30 minutes or so.  

Using a thermometer cook your tri tips to an internal temperate of 135 for rare. I do not recommend cooking your tri tip more than 145 degrees as they may become tough.  Remove from the fire and allow to rest for twenty minutes before slicing. 

Slice the tri tips across the grain of the meat and serve with the salsa.

A bottle of big Paso Robles Zinfandel or Syrah is great with this try  J. Lohr Gesture Syrah or Zinfandel or Brochelle's Zinfandel or Paso Robles Syrah. Of course a little Cervesa works too, check out Firestone Walker's DBA with this!

Looking for the perfect way to smoke your Tri Tips? The Traeger!


Check out our Classic Santa Maria Style Tri Tip here! 

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