Whisky boys tri-tip

Whisky boys tri-tip

The Hang Fire Cookbook

Tri-tip is the barbecue of choice for the Californian coast. It’s a lean and delicious cut of beef that grills and smokes well, looking like a big, three-pointed steak. Our most memorable encounter was when Fresno’s finest Country Rock band were recording at our friend’s recording studio in Tennessee and wanted to show us ‘Cali ’Cue’, namely marinated and grilled tri-tip. Eating something that was more akin to medium-rare sirloin was a welcome pit stop on our slow and low road trip. This is a take on their recipe and is dedicated to the Whisky Row boys who are still rockin’ in the free world.


Quantity Ingredient
2 x 1-1.25kg tri-tip steaks groundnut oil, for greasing

For the Marinade

Quantity Ingredient
100ml balsamic vinegar
100ml worcestershire sauce
100ml olive oil
100ml soy sauce
2 tablespoons dijon mustard
3 tablespoons ground black pepper
1 tablespoon garlic powder
3 garlic cloves, chopped
3 shots your favourite whisky or bourbon

For the mop sauce

Quantity Ingredient
100ml red wine vinegar
100ml garlic-infused olive oil
1 tablespoon chilli flakes


  1. Whisk the marinade ingredients except the whisky or bourbon in a pan over a medium heat for 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the marinade to cool to room temperature. Stir in two of the whisky shots, and sneak a shot for yourself. Put the tri-tips into two large ziplock bags, pour over the marinade in equal quantities, squeeze the air out and seal the bags. Refrigerate for at least 4 hours, or ideally overnight. Oscillate the bags every now and then to help the marinade do its job.
  2. Take the tri-tips out of the bag, discarding the liquid, and set them on a roasting tray. Pat them dry with kitchen towels and set aside to come up to room temperature while you set up your grill. Grab a handful of oak chips and soak them in water for 30 minutes.
  3. Set up your grill for direct heat. Get the coals white hot and a good bed of them, too. You’ll need the coals to last about 30–45 minutes. We’re aiming for medium-rare meat without scorching, so watch those flare-ups. Rub a little groundnut oil on the tri-tips. Now scatter your soaked wood chips over the red-hot coals to add a little smoke to the beef, wait a moment for them to start smoking before you start cooking. Place your tri-tips directly on the grates, fat-side down and close the lid for 5 minutes. After this time, flip the steaks over and close the lid again for another 5 minutes.
  4. In a small bowl, vigorously whisk the mop sauce ingredients and get your basting brush ready. Continue to turn the tri-tips every 4–5 minutes for 30 minutes, basting each side regularly with your mop sauce.
  5. Have your instant-read thermometer to hand, and when the tri-tips internal temperature registers at 55°C you’re good to go. Remove from the grill, cover with a foil tent and allow to rest for 15–20 minutes.
  6. Slicing the tri-tip isn’t completely straightforward. You have two opposing grains here, as shown in the photograph.
  7. We usually cut along the yellow line so as to cut it almost in half. With cut A, we’ll cut it this way against the grain. With cut B, we’ll cut it this way against the grain.
  8. Transfer the slices to a warmed serving dish and let the guests help themselves. Serve with some jambalaya for a surf and turf experience.

What is Tri-tip?

  • The tri-tip is a cut of beef from the bottom sirloin sub-primal cut. It is a small triangular muscle, usually 600g–1.5kg. There are two tri-tips per cow. You will undoubtedly have to pre-order these. Ask your butcher to source the largest ones he can get. As it’s considered sirloin, expect to pay sirloin prices – yes, this falls into the ‘treat meat’ category. However, each tri-tip will serve three or four people easily. Plus you’ll look super awesome searing these hunks of meat on your grill and telling all your friends that ‘this is how they ’cue in Californ-I-A’.

Cooking method

  • Grilling
Deep South
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